|Year : 2019 | Volume
| Issue : 7 | Page : 585-586
Fraud in publications-retractions and deterrents
S Bala Bhaskar
Department of Anaesthesiology, VIMS, Bellary, Karnataka, India
|Date of Web Publication||12-Jul-2019|
Prof. S Bala Bhaskar
Department of Anaesthesiology, VIMS, Bellary, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Bhaskar S B. Fraud in publications-retractions and deterrents. Indian J Anaesth 2019;63:585-6
Initiation and completion of a clinical trial is a time consuming and exhaustive exercise with multiple checks and balances at the level of the author, the editor and various regulatory bodies. Recommendations and codes of conduct exist in regard to the conduct, reporting, editing, publication, authorship criteria and plagiarism.,
Some researchers have been found to intentionally manipulate the collected data, the patients and also data analysis to the extent that even the most adept reviewer or editor fails to recognize the mischief. They amount to 'falsification, fabrication, plagiarism and 'fraud'. But publication and citation of such researches in journals with high impact factor can lead to widespread acceptance of the outcomes with practical implementation of interventions, which can have a direct bearing on patient safety. Some such researchers are able to project manipulated data with such finesse and conviction that their researches get published in great numbers.
A valid response to these mis-happenings would be to retract the articles that are published. The field of Anaesthesiology has few culprits in the infamous list (with a big number of publications), such as Yoshitaka Fujii, Joachim Boldt and Scott Reuben. It was John Carlisle who rang the bell, when he was able to prove, after detailed statistical analysis, that these three, including Fujii had faked data in many of their studies. Carlisle's efforts also lead to use of a mathematical tool for journals for conducting investigations into potential cases of misconduct. The works of co-author of Fujii in many of his publications, Yuhji Saitoh, were later subject to review by Carlisle and Loadsman exposing fraud and forcing retractions of articles of Saitoh. The publication of this investigation has led to the opinion by major journals that co-authors also must be investigated for potential misconduct and fraud, without restricting the investigation to the main author.
Guidelines related to authorship are flouted by authors for career enhancement, sponsorships and sometimes out of pure greed. Academicians across the world revere authors with large number of publications, and those authors are provided with prime speakership in Conferences. They are also consistently able to produce positive results and gladden the hearts of the pharmacy groups. The Editors lap up their submissions, also because negative outcomes are generally not encouraged to be published. ('Dissemination Bias' from authors) The best current evidences related to harms of an intervention are also not revealed. 'Unfavourable data' and 'unfavourable patients' ('data massaging') are concealed by authors and they are frequently successful in publishing the research. The Overcome failure to Publish nEgative fiNdings (OPEN) project is a European Commission initiative with the agenda to identify dissemination bias and to develop recommendations to overcome incomplete or selective access to trial results, starting with the definition of a clinical trial.
Retractions of published articles go a long way in controlling the research and publication fraud, if not eliminate them altogether. Characters such as Boldt, Fujii and others are always out there somewhere, to cheat the system because of the pressures of publication and lure of name and fame. But the journals, represented by the Editors, reviewers and the publishers were slow to notice and wake up to such willful sabotage of research ethics, till Carlisle, the anaesthesiologist with a brilliant statistical brain arrived in the scene. His persistent efforts have also shown that the co-authors also need to be investigated separately, especially if they have multiple publications. Delay by journals in retracting the articles and delay by institutions and the Ethical Committees to respond to suspicious publications are highly undesirable when the outcomes and interventions are taken at face value by a common reader. The article by Priyam Saikia et al. in the current issue of Indian journal of Anaesthesia has highlighted this aspect in regard to the Japanese author Yuhji Saitoh, the co author of Fujii in many of Fujii's publications. Whether the articles were investigated for retraction, or notice was issued to the author for retraction, or articles were retracted or not (or delayed) and the pros and cons of all these are discussed in this article. The authors also have made efforts to contact the editors of the journals in which the articles by Saitoh were published in the first place and enquired about the current status with respect to retraction. It is astonishing to note that despite the retraction recommendation by the Japanese Society of Anesthesiology (JSA), 50% of articles were yet to be retracted in the journal websites when the authors (Saikia et al.) were searching online for their status.
It is the duty of the journals, as highlighted by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), that corrections, clarifications, retractions and apologies are published as and when confirmed without delay. The gaps in the process, between the Journal, the professional bodies and the indexing agencies have to be filled up based on the COPE recommendations. The onus to initiate and publish the retraction proceedings rests with the Editors; it is better late, than never.
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