On the basis of the recommendation of the American Diabetes Association’s Panel on Ethical Scientific Programs (ESP), the American Diabetes Association, the publisher of Diabetes, is issuing this update to a previously published expression of concern for the article cited above (1).
The expression of concern was issued on 21 July 2016 to inform readers that images from the article by Maedler et al. (1) were potentially republished in a 2009 PLoS One article (2) and a 2011 Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) paper (3). Kathrin Maedler is the first author on this article and is the senior/corresponding author on the PLoS One and JBC papers. As noted in the expression of concern, the PLoS One article was amended with a correction in May 2015 to replace the figure in question (4), and the JBC article was retracted in November 2015 (5).
In February 2015, the University of Bremen initiated an investigation into allegations of image duplication in articles authored by Dr. Maedler. In October 2016, the University released a summary of the investigation’s findings, which is publicly accessible on the University’s website (6). The University’s report, however, has not allayed the concerns of the American Diabetes Association’s ESP regarding the reliability of the data presented in the article, as further described below.
Since the publication of the original expression of concern and the statement by the University of Bremen, the American Diabetes Association has learned of another instance of potential image reuse and duplication involving this article. This instance involves the use of the same source file to create images in multiple articles. The source image can be accessed by copying the underlying file of the left “Tubulin” panel of Fig. 1E in the paper-in-press version of the 2011 JBC paper by Ardestani et al. (3), which was published on 10 March 2011 and is available at http://www.jbc.org/content/early/2011/03/10/jbc.M110.210526.full.pdf.
The American Diabetes Association is concerned that the source file used to create the images in the 2011 JBC paper was previously used to create images in this article, as well as another 2006 Diabetes article (Diabetes 55:2455–2462) (7) by the same laboratory.
In this article, the “Actin 42 kDA” strip of Fig. 3B appears to derive from lanes 4–9 of the source file used to create the images in the 2011 JBC paper, with contrast and size adjustments. In Diabetes 55:2455–2462, the “Actin, 96 h” strip in Fig. 3D appears to derive from lanes 6–11 of the same source file, with horizontal rotation and contrast and size adjustments. As such, lanes 3–6 of the “Actin 42 kDA” strip of Fig. 3B of this article and lanes 3–6 of the “Actin, 96 h” strip in Fig. 3D of Diabetes 55:2455–2462, with horizontal rotation and contrast and size adjustments, appear to be duplicates.
The American Diabetes Association contacted Kathrin Maedler and corresponding author Marc Y. Donath to report these concerns and to request the original source files for review, but the authors explained that they no longer have access to the original source materials for these 2006 reports. As such, the ESP remains concerned that Fig. 3B of this article and Fig. 3D of Diabetes 55:2455–2462 are related. The Panel has contacted the University of Zurich to request an institutional investigation of these recently reported issues, and Diabetes will make a final decision on the publication status of this article after the journal obtains more information on the reliability of the data and conclusions presented in the article.
Diabetes is a member journal of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) (publicationethics.org). The ESP refers to COPE’s guidelines and best practices when reviewing potential violations of the journal’s publication policies.