Meet two German elite researchers of the Saarland University, the professorial husband and wife couple Henning Madry and Magali Cucchiarini-Madry. Some years ago, Mrs Madry discovered her interests for Persia, and these Iranian “collaborations” expanded her scientific horizons and her publication record into all possible research fields. Her husband soon joined her. Envious bad tongues call this behaviour “paper mills“, but the University of Saarland calls this good scientific practice. Both the university and the Ombudsman of the German national authority DFG decreed it’s the whistleblowers who are the real problem.
A year ago, the Saarland University was very proud (translated):
“The German Society for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery (DGOU) honors Henning Madry , Chair of Experimental Orthopedics and Arthrosis Research in Homburg, with the prize for promoting basic research . His scientific contribution to research into the development of arthritis after cartilage damage and its molecular therapy is recognized. The award for promoting basic research is the highest scientific award for orthopedics and trauma surgery in Germany. https://dgou.de/preise-stipendien/preise/basic-research/prize-for-foerderung-der-basic-research .
Henning Madry was also elected President of the Basic Research Section (SGF) of the German Society for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery (DGOU) . The basic research section develops clearly defined scientific goals and research policy content for the German Society for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery (DGOU).
Professor dr Magali Cucchiarini Madry , Associate Director of the Chair of Experimental Orthopedics and Osteoarthritis Research, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) . OARSI is the world’s largest society dedicated to clinical and experimental issues of osteoarthritis.”
Now you would like to know what kind of amazing basic research on arthritis the Madry couple does. Alexander Magazinov found this out:
“A number of articles have been published by drs. Henning Madry and Magali Cucchiarini, with the affiliation of Saarland University in collaboration with “researchers” from Iran. Those articles show signs of papermill origin, most notably, irrelevant citations. “
Nick Wise and Alexander Magazinov on the authorships-for-sale market on social media. Merely $700 for the 7th position on some paper way outside your expertise!
Like this one (at least it’s about arthritis):
Seyedeh Maryam Hosseinikhah , Mahmood Barani , Abbas Rahdar, Henning Madry , Rabia Arshad, Vahideh Mohammadzadeh , Magali Cucchiarini Nanomaterials for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Inflammatory Arthritis International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2021) doi: 10.3390/ijms22063092
Look at the references of this MDPI paper, almost 40 (!) inappropriate citations go to their Iranian co-authors Mahmood Barani and Abbas Rahdar (here an overview of their PubPeer record):
Another nonsense paper in MDPI, with Barani and Rahdar, plus other notorious papermill customers Tapan Behl and Simone Bungau, where the orthopaedist Cucchiarini-Madry suddenly became an expert in nanotechnology and… cardiovascular diseases:
Fakhara Sabir , Mahmood Barani , Mahwash Mukhtar , Abbas Rahdar , Magali Cucchiarini , Muhammad Nadeem Zafar , Tapan Behl , Simona Bungau Nanodiagnosis and Nanotreatment of Cardiovascular Diseases: An Overview Chemosensors (2021) doi: 10.3390/chemosensors9040067
It is a massive citation plantation for “a certain M Barani and a certain A Rahdar”, as Magazinov noted.
In this MDPI study, the orthopaedists Madry suddenly became experts for DNA sequencing, again thanks to enlightenment from the Iranian papermillers Rahdar and Barani. Also, Magazinov spotted that a sentence irrelevant to the rest of the article was added, only to accommodate citations which have exactly zero to do with genomics but a lot to do with a certain papermill customer Changhe Li:
Mahwash Mukhtar , Saman Sargazi , Mahmood Barani , Henning Madry , Abbas Rahdar , Magali Cucchiarini Application of Nanotechnology for Sensitive Detection of Low-Abundance Single-Nucleotide Variations in Genomic DNA: A Review Nanomaterials (2021) doi: 10.3390/nano11061384
Now observe the unexpected expertise in organic chemistry from the orthopaedist Cucchiarini-Madry, again combined with irrelevant citations to Changhe Li:
Saman Sargazi , Mohammad Reza Hajinezhad , Mahmood Barani , Abbas Rahdar , Sheida Shahraki , Pouya Karimi , Magali Cucchiarini , Mehrdad Khatami , Sadanand Pandey Synthesis, characterization, toxicity and morphology assessments of newly prepared microemulsion systems for delivery of valproic acid Journal of Molecular Liquids (2021) doi: 10.1016/j.molliq.2021.116625
“In this respect, nanomaterials or nanofluids have been extensively studied as desirable drug carriers and medical applications [33–38].”
-  M. Yang, C. Li, L. Luo, R. Li, Y. Long, Predictive model of convective heat transfer coefficient in bone micro-grinding using nanofluid aerosol cooling Int. Commun. Heat Mass Transf. 125 (2021) 105317.
-  Y. Zhang, C. Li, D. Jia, D. Zhang, X. Zhang, Experimental evaluation of MoS2 nanoparticles in jet MQL grinding with different types of vegetable oil as base oil J. Cleaner Prod. 87 (2015) 930.
Who needs science if you can have a 75 paper strong special edition by Afrand and Karimi? A guest post by Alexander Magazinov.
The crack team of the polymath orthopaedist Cucchiarini-Madry and the Iranian papermillers Barani and Rahdar also cured cancer, in MDPI and always with nanoparticles of course, how else:
- Fakhara Sabir , Mahira Zeeshan , Ushna Laraib , Mahmood Barani , Abbas Rahdar , Magali Cucchiarini , Sadanand Pandey DNA Based and Stimuli-Responsive Smart Nanocarrier for Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer: Applications and Challenges Cancers (2021) doi: 10.3390/cancers13143396
- Mahmood Barani , Seyedeh Maryam Hosseinikhah , Abbas Rahdar , Leila Farhoudi , Rabia Arshad , Magali Cucchiarini , Sadanand Pandey Nanotechnology in Bladder Cancer: Diagnosis and Treatment Cancers (2021) doi: 10.3390/cancers13092214
- Rabia Arshad , Mahmood Barani , Abbas Rahdar , Saman Sargazi , Magali Cucchiarini , Sadanand Pandey , Misook Kang Multi-Functionalized Nanomaterials and Nanoparticles for Diagnosis and Treatment of Retinoblastoma Biosensors (2021) doi: 10.3390/bios11040097
The German orthopaedist Henning Madry and his French orthopaedist wife Magali Cucchiarini must be the greatest, wisest polymath scholars the German and French nations ever had the honour to have, because this power couple are experts in basically everything.
Here, another paper on cancer therapy, but this time with anti-foaming agent Pluronic F127 (a substance for some reason popular with papermill fraudsters):
- Abbas Rahdar , Mohammad Reza Hajinezhad , Mahmood Barani , Saman Sargazi , Maryam Zaboli , Esraa Ghazy , Francesco Baino , Magali Cucchiarini , Muhammad Bilal , Sadanand Pandey Pluronic F127/Doxorubicin microemulsions: Preparation, characterization, and toxicity evaluations Journal of Molecular Liquids (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.molliq.2021.117028
Naturally, Frau Dr Cucchiarini-Madry also knows all there is to know about pharmacology and traditional medicine. Probably because she likes mint tea?
- Aziz Eftekhari , Ameer Khusro , Elham Ahmadian , Solmaz Maleki Dizaj , Amir Hasanzadeh , Magali Cucchiarini Phytochemical and nutra-pharmaceutical attributes of Mentha spp.: A comprehensive review Arabian Journal of Chemistry (2021) doi: 10.1016/j.arabjc.2021.103106
“here is my advice to Clarivate: better get lost. ” – Alexander Magazinov
The orthopaedists Madry, especially the wife, are also experts in nephrology, hepatology and urology, preferably addressed with nanoparticles. All they need to start healing is a helping hand from certain Iranians:
- Sepideh Zununi Vahed , Elham Ahmadian , Peyman Foroughi , Soroush Mostafavi , Henning Madry , Mohammadreza Ardalan , Magali Cucchiarini Vitamin D Receptor and Vitamin D Binding Protein Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Renal Allograft Outcome Nutrients (2021) doi: 10.3390/nu13041101
- Tala Pourlak , Sonya Sharifi , Sepideh Zununi Vahed , Elham Ahmadian , Magali Cucchiarini The diagnostic value of immunohistochemical staining of the interstitial vascular C4d complement in membranous nephropathy Current Issues in Pharmacy and Medical Sciences (2021) doi: 10.2478/cipms-2021-0033
- Mohammadreza Ardalan , Seyyedeh Mina Hejazian , Hassan Fazlazar Sharabiyani , Farahnoosh Farnood , Amirhossein Ghafari Aghdam , Milad Bastami , Elham Ahmadian , Sepideh Zununi Vahed , Magali Cucchiarini Dysregulated levels of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) and miR-135 in peripheral blood samples of cases with nephrotic syndrome PeerJ (2020) doi: 10.7717/peerj.10377
- Zahra Hosseini-khah , Mohammad Reza Babaei , Mohsen Tehrani , Magali Cucchiarini , Henning Madry , Abolghasem Ajami , Nasser Rakhshani , Alireza Rafiei , Behrooz Nikbin SOX2 and Bcl-2 as a Novel Prognostic Value in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Progression Current Oncology (2021) doi: 10.3390/curroncol28040264
- Aisha Rauf , Tanveer A. Tabish , Ibrahim M Ibrahim , Muhammad Rauf Ul Hassan , Sabira Tahseen , Mansoor Abdullah Sandhu , Gul Shahnaz , Abbas Rahdar , Magali Cucchiarini , Sadanand Pandey Design of Mannose-Coated Rifampicin nanoparticles modulating the immune response and Rifampicin induced hepatotoxicity with improved oral drug delivery Arabian Journal of Chemistry (2021) doi: 10.1016/j.arabjc.2021.103321
- Aziz Eftekhari, Allahveirdy Arjmand, Ayyub Asheghvatan, Helena Švajdlenková, Ondrej Šauša, Huseyn Abiyev, Elham Ahmadian, Oleh Smutok, Rovshan Khalilov, Taras Kavetskyy , Magali Cucchiarini The Potential Application of Magnetic Nanoparticles for Liver Fibrosis Theranostics Frontiers in Chemistry (2021) doi: 10.3389/fchem.2021.674786
- Maimoona Qindeel , Mahmood Barani , Abbas Rahdar , Rabia Arshad , Magali Cucchiarini Nanomaterials for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections Nanomaterials (2021) doi: 10.3390/nano11020546
There is absolutely no reason for the orthopaedist couple Madry not to be world-recognised experts in dentistry, again all thanks to some Iranian friends:
- Alireza Aminoroaya , Rasoul Esmaeely Neisiany , Saied Nouri Khorasani , Parisa Panahi , Oisik Das , Henning Madry , Magali Cucchiarini , Seeram Ramakrishna A review of dental composites: Challenges, chemistry aspects, filler influences, and future insights Composites Part B: Engineering (2021) doi: 10.1016/j.compositesb.2021.108852
And of course, COVID-19, how detect the infection and how to cure it with… stem cells (the latter with the predatory publisher Baishideng)!
- Aziz Eftekhari , Mahdieh Alipour , Leila Chodari , Solmaz Maleki Dizaj , Mohammadreza Ardalan , Mohammad Samiei , Simin Sharifi , Sepideh Zununi Vahed , Irada Huseynova , Rovshan Khalilov , Elham Ahmadian , Magali Cucchiarini A Comprehensive Review of Detection Methods for SARS-CoV-2 Microorganisms (2021) doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9020232
- Mohammadreza Ardalan , Leila Chodari , Sepideh Zununi Vahed , Seyed Mahdi Hosseiniyan Khatibi , Aziz Eftekhari , Soodabeh Davaran , Magali Cucchiarini , Leila Roshangar , Elham Ahmadian Stem cell-derived biofactors fight against coronavirus infection World Journal of Stem Cells (2021) doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v13.i12.1813
I did not find any papers on autism or erectile dysfunction, so I suggest the Professors Madry get in touch with their Iranian colleagues to complete their publication record in medical polymathy. But with Chinese colleagues, Frau Dr Cucchiarini-Madry mastered the regenerative medicine, via a short detour into the developmental biology of salamanders!
- Tian Qin , Chun-mei Fan , Ting-zhang Wang , Heng Sun , Yan-yan Zhao , Ruo-jin Yan , Long Yang , Wei-liang Shen , Jun-xin Lin , Varitsara Bunpetch , Magali Cucchiarini , Nicholas D. Clement , Christopher E. Mason , Norimasa Nakamura , Rameah Bhonde , Zi Yin , Xiao Chen Single-cell RNA-seq reveals novel mitochondria-related musculoskeletal cell populations during adult axolotl limb regeneration process Cell Death and Differentiation (2021) doi: 10.1038/s41418-020-00640-8
Speaking of regenerative medicine: I do not know why Cucchiarini-Madry is corresponding author on a paper about 3D bioprinting of living tissues (don’t bother, it’s nonsense) which acknowledges as its only source of funding “Iran National Science Foundation research chair award”:
Roghayeh Khoeini , Hamed Nosrati , Abolfazl Akbarzadeh , Aziz Eftekhari , Taras Kavetskyy , Rovshan Khalilov , Elham Ahmadian , Aygun Nasibova , Pallab Datta , Leila Roshangar , Dante C. Deluca , Soodabeh Davaran , Magali Cucchiarini , Ibrahim T. Ozbolat Natural and Synthetic Bioinks for 3D Bioprinting Advanced NanoBiomed Research (2021) doi: 10.1002/anbr.202000097
Maybe someone at a German university agreed to pay the Open Access publication fees, via their naive university library? A win-win for everyone, except for the German taxpayer.
“Or The author can also put your name to the article to increase your academic popularity, such as adding your name to the second or third author.”
It seems the orthopaedist Cucchiarini-Madry discovered her Iran-inspired expertise for everything outside her official expertise around 2-3 years ago, and eventually she convinced her orthopaedist husband to look to Iran so he also can expand his academic horizons and his publication record. Here is the oldest Irano-Cucchiarinian paper we could find, on stem cells and cancer, a topic which other, pedestrian orthopaedists know little of:
- Ammar Ebrahimi , Pejman Abbasi , Magali Cucchiarini Exploring the Role of Stem Cells in Cancer Development and Progression Annals of Cancer Research and Therapy (2020) doi: 10.4993/acrt.28.3
I can’t tell you where Magali Cucchiarini met her Iranian “collaborators”, according to her CV she studied and graduated in France, did postdoc in Harvard, USA, where she met her husband Henning Madry, with whom she went to the Saarland University in Germany and stayed there till today. Maybe she just answered to one of those unsolicited emails, you know which kind.
It is not just the suspicious pattern of papermilling. There was also some plagiarism as Smut Clyde found out while chasing after Balwant Rai – a scamference organiser, “Space Dentist“, and a “broad-spectrum fabulist“. Read about Rai here:
Smut Clyde tells you about some abysmally bad scamferences and the kind of scholars frequenting them, and I explain why Nobel Prize winner Harald zur Hausen is one of them.
It is about this paper by both Madrys:
Mohamed Mediouni , Daniel R. Schlatterer , Henning Madry , Magali Cucchiarini , Balwant Rai A review of translational medicine. The future paradigm: how can we connect the orthopedic dots better? Current Medical Research and Opinion (2018) doi: 10.1080/03007995.2017.1385450
Also, as Smut Clyde noted:
“Second author Daniel Schlatterer appears as a Director of “JBR University”. The 5th author, “Prof. (Dr.) Balwant Rai” – “Program Director and Associate Professor of Aeronautic Dentistry at Kepler Space Institute” – is President of that nebulous organisation. https://web.archive.org/web/20190505000519/https://www.jbruniversity.com/about-us/“
The DGOU society remained silent, probably because they don’t care. Magali Cucchiarini remained silent also. Henning Madry did reply, but refused to address the specific PubPeer allegations. When challenged, he never denied to have contributed his name to these papers knowingly and willingly. He insisted however:
Both Magazinov and I reported this case to the Saarland University with a request to investigate. I also forwarded them my email exchanges with Henning Madry, where he protested against the papermill suspicions but never denied his willful authorship on these papers. This is important, because in many cases the German academic authorites drop the investigations when the respondent scientist declares that the malfeasance in their papers happened totally without their knowledge.
“The committee […] requests of you for future publications to assess well ahead and to question critically your responsibility for the contributions of the co-authors, also for your own protection.”
German Research Foundation (DFG) terminated the investigation against their Senator and Marburg University professor Roland Lill, after having found no research misconduct. No comments are issued on the integrity of the data in his papers on yeast biochemistry, or on some unusual image manipulations which were already admitted by Lill and his former PhD students
The Ombudsoffice of the Saarland University announced on 7 November 2022 to investigate the affair. This was the result of their investigation, announced on 9 December 2022 (highlights mine):
“Thank you very much for your e-mail from 5 November 2022, in which you raised allegations of scientific misconduct towards Prof. Dr. Henning Madry and Prof. Dr. Magali Cucchiarini, both members of Saarland University.
After a detailed examination of your allegations by our „Ständige Kommission zur Untersuchung von Vorwürfen wissenschaftlichen Fehlverhaltens“ (standing commission for the evaluation of allegations of scientific misconduct), we would like to inform you that the members of the commission decided in their formal meeting on 7 December 2022 to close the “Vorprüfungsverfahren” (preliminary examination) given that the suspicion of scientific misconduct towards the aforementioned members of our university has not been sufficiently substantiated.
Please note that according to our regulations, we offer you the opportunity to arrange a consultation with our standing commission within two weeks as of today.
Ombuds Office of Saarland University”
Magazinov immediatedly tried to get the promised consultation but only got an appointment after he sent a reminder. But to me nobody replied when I tried to figure out why this kind of publishing behaviour, i.e. suspect papermilling and plagiarism, is perfectly acceptable.
It was even crazier than that. It turned out the confidential Ombudsperson of the Saarland University has been forwarding Magazinov’s and mine emails to the Madry couple all along. With our names.
Verena Krenberger, an official of the Ombudsoffice and assistant to the Vice-president for Research replied to my email to her office to inform Magazinov and me that we must adhere to strict confidentiality and not contact anyone as not to affect the university’s investigation.
She added Madry and Cucchiarini in cc, who in this way received the entire email thread.
Basically, the Saarland University got the concept of whistleblower protection totally backwards. It may not matter much to Magazinov and myself, but what about other whistelblowers, like PhD students? What about their privacy and protection?
So I complained to the The German Research Ombudsman, or the Ombuds Committee for scientific integrity in Germany. It is an advisory panel of active academics appointed by the Senate of the national founder German Research Foundation (DFG).
I received on 25 November a reply, signed by the spokesman Eric Steinhauer, a law profesor. Translated:
“We looked at the e-mail correspondence you forwarded and found that you yourself had already contacted the two scientists concerned on November 7th, 2022 and asked for a statement. […]
“Dr. Verena Krenberger, head of the ombudsman office of Saarland University, then informed you that the information is already being investigated, whereby she has cc’ed the two scientists to whom her information relates. Also, she asked you to refrain during the ongoing investigation from contacting other offices outside of Saarland University.
In this specific case, we can understand this step by the ombudsman of Saarland University for several reasons. On the one hand, you had already contacted the persons concerned, presented the information and asked for a statement. Those affected already knew that you are the informant in the matter and that it is important to you to clarify the facts.”
Basically this means if you, the whistleblower, have previously contacted the accused scientist, you forfeit all rights to privacy and protection when you report this scientist to authorities. Of course every PhD student lodging a complaint about their PhD advisor will previously have tried to resolve the allegations with the said advisor, so there. I pointed this out to Steinhauer and received no reply.
The Steinhauer letter also elaborated that it was actually Magazinov and myself who infringed the confidentiality. Our misconduct was to contact other parties besides the Ombudsoffice of Saarland University. Magazinov contacted me, and I contacted the German Society for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery (DGOU), who didn’t reply anyway. But as Krenberger complained to Steinhauer, I was not allowed to do that, and he agreed. I was educated that DGOU had no business to be informed about Madrys’ unusual publication record, a point I can’t quite follow. Steinhauer also specified:
“Mr. Magazinov, in turn, had previously informed the instituion’s leadership, the press office and you. You have therefore turned to the public with your information. It is therefore incomprehensible to us to what extent you regard it as a breach of confidentiality that the ombudsman (only) informs those affected about your inquiry and your view of things, which they were already aware of.“
I did not turn to public with this information, a law professor of all people must understand the difference between turning to public and writing to a learned society or the university’s press office. I only publicised the story in Friday Shorts after Krenberger proudly shared my emails with Madry.
Also, Steinhauer argued that not only the whistleblower names, but also all the possibly sensitive information they provide to the investigators must be immediatedly forwarded to the accused.
What do moth pheromones on one side have to do with cancer research, petrochemistry, materials science, e-commerce, psychology, forestry and gynaecology on the other? They are separated by just one citation!
In fact, I had a similar experience almost at the same time, when reporting another papermill case. The Ombudsperson of a Helmholtz institute forwarded my emails to the accused where I mentioned that I know how to catch them on dishonesty, i.e. which question to ask, which answer would make sense and which answr would mean an admission to papermilling. Luckily I did not provide details. After the Ombudsman shared all my emails with the accused, I escalated the case to the senior Ombudsperson of the Helmholtz Society who indeed thanked me and confirmed to me that whistleblower protection was important. Much unlike the German Ombudsman for Science.
In his letter, Steinhauer also argued that a university is entitled to terminate an investigation if the whistleblower (who, as reminder, is not entitled to any protection or confidentiality whatsoever) does not adhere to the order of total confidentiality. He even cited the relevant DFG guideline:
“The competent bodies at the universities and non-university research institutions (usually ombudspersons and investigative commissions) who investigate suspicion of scientific misconduct take appropriate action to ensure protection both of the informant and the person affected by the allegations. The investigation of allegations of scientific misconduct is expressly carried out with due regard for confidentiality and the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence.”
It seems, since I failed to adhere to confidentiality by writing to the DGOU society, the Saarland University terminated the Madry investigation.
I guess the take home message is: don’t trust your research institution’s Ombudsperson, don’t expect any confidentiality whatsoever, and be aware they have the blessing from the national Ombudsman to turn against you any time. But I still stand confused on whether all this means that buying authorships off papermills and even plagiarism is now acceptable scientific practice in Germany.
Cool. MDPI will be happy.
In 2019, MDPI published a Special Issue “Beyond Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability”, one year later its owner Shu-Kun Lin expressed admiration for Trump and said “Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. All Lives Matter.”
Alexander Magazinov held a consultation with the Ombudspeople of the Saarland University on 15 December 2022. Turned out not only does the university fully approve of papermilling and citation plantations, they even endorse plagiarism, all they ask from the authors is to add at least some credits when caught, preferably via a stealth correction. The above-described plagiarism in Mediouni et al 2018 was flagged on PubPeer in May 2019. The current published version of today is however different from the one in May 2019, we know this thanks to the “accepted manuscript” available to Magazinov and myself. The dishonest chief editors of the Taylor & Francis journal Current Medical Research and Opinion, a Dimitri P. Mikhailidis and a Leslie Citrome, eagerly accomodated the Madrys and other authors with the request of that stealth correction.
This is Magazinov’s rebuttal letter to the Saarland University:
“Following the consultation that happened last Friday, December 16, 2022, please find below my formal rebuttal.
1. Regarding your response as to (Mediouni et al., 2018).
1.1. You declared that the lack of attribution of Fig. 2 to its original source (Lughmani et al., 2015, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmbbm.2014.10.017) is not a misconduct for some obscure reasons, like “it is a review, everyone understands that the figures are not original anyway” or so. This is obvious nonsense because Elsevier’s copyright on this image was obviously violated.
1.2. You declared that other figures are properly attributed. This is correct at the face value, apart from the mix-up in Figure 6. However, these attributions exhibit signs of sloppy post-hoc correction, which you would have noticed, if you had conducted a real investigation, not a sham “investigation.”
1.2.1. At this point, I am in possession of the “Accepted Manuscript” version of (Mediouni et al., 2018) dated October 7, 2017 (after its acceptance on September 21, 2017). In this version, no attribution of the concerned images is given. You may request the historic versions of this manuscript from the publisher, or retrieve them by any other means you find appropriate.
188.8.131.52. It means that the PubPeer commenter, whom I know by their other works, although not by their identity, was absolutely correct with their comments #1, #3 and #4, given the version of the manuscript they had access to.
184.108.40.206. It also means that the attribution of the concerned images was obscured from the peer-reviewers of the manuscript. Hiding the sources of the images from peer-reviewers might constitute misconduct from the authors of (Mediouni et al., 2018) regardless of whether they were properly attributed in any version published at a later point.
1.2.2. Please note that (Natali, 1996) and (Dunnen, 2014) are cited at the end of the reference list, out of the normal order of references. This is yet another sign of post-hoc addition of references to the concerned figures.
1.2.3. Fig. 1 in (Natali, 1996) illustrates the consequences of poor control over a blunt drill, not consequences of thermal necrosis. In (Mediouni et al., 2018) it is represented as “loosening of bone implant due to unstable fixation of secondary screw loosening from thermal necrosis.” Misrepresentation of content of other publications might amount to misconduct.
1.3. I have posted my assessment as comment #9 here https://pubpeer.com/publications/04CDA898101DEA5220D1F71586D124 which for all purposes can be considered my final assessment given on record.
2. You dismissed the claims of inappropriate citations based on two arguments.
2.1. “Drs. Madry and Cucchiarini are not responsible for the concerned citations.” Except they are: “All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.” Their agreement to publish the manuscript with inappropriate citations implies their responsibility for inappropriate citations. Otherwise, the responsibility should have been delimited in the contribution statement.
2.2. “Where does it go if we investigate all claims of inappropriate citations?” I have a good illustration of where it goes if you do not. Here you go, https://doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2021.775309, a piece reviewed by M. Barani, where he was selected as a reviewer not least because of his citations he earned in collaboration with Madry and Cucchiarini. Now, the point: this Frontiers article, reviewed by Barani, has been offered for sale before the publication: https://pubpeer.com/publications/3E7C467522CEB092CBB5307B59E0DF
To sum 2.2 up: Saarland University pays APCs for self-promotion of a certain M. Barani from Iran, “This work was supported by the Saarland University within the funding program Open Access Publishing.” Then Barani capitalizes on that by approving fraudulent submissions. With further inaction, there will be more of that; the question is whether Saarland University considers this usage of public funds appropriate.”
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