New Delhi: A 2004 research paper co-authored by the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Head of Virology Department Nivedita Gupta, which was criticised earlier this year for alleged image manipulation, has been retracted this month.
The research paper titled ‘Epidemiology and molecular typing of Candida isolates from burn patients’ was published in 2004 in the journal Mycopathologia. Elizabeth Bik, a Dutch microbiologist and a scientific research integrity expert, had said that many of the figures presented in the research had unexplained duplications and signs of manipulation. The paper described work conducted during Gupta’s PhD. Gupta had also used these figures in her PhD thesis, according to Bik.
Speaking to ThePrint at the time, Gupta had denied the allegations, explaining that the similarity of the images arose because the samples were taken from the same patients.
Gupta also said at the time the paper was path-breaking as it was one of the first in India to document the spread of Candida infections (a type of fungal infection) in the burns ward. The findings, she added, helped save many lives as doctors now know that antifungals have to be given in septicaemic burn patients when they do not respond to antibiotics.
However, on 26 May, Mycopathologia retracted the article with a note that said: “The Editor-in-Chief has retracted this article. After publication, concerns were raised regarding a number of issues in the Figures [sic]”.
“The Editor-in-Chief therefore no longer has confidence in the presented data.”
According to the notice, none of the authors have responded to any correspondence from the editor or publisher about the retraction notice.
However, Gupta told ThePrint that she had, in fact, sent detailed responses to all the queries sent by the journal.
“I have not given my consent for retraction. It’s unfair to dig out a research that was done 21 years ago and dissect it. The worst part is that it is being dissected at a point when I don’t have any raw data preserved with me. Even the most stringent clinical trials ask for data retention for a maximum period of 15 years,” Gupta told ThePrint.
“I am confident of the work done by me as a PhD student and also this was the first paper I published as a student,” she added.
She said that the whole affair had been a one-sided conversation.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)