A former University of Wyoming professor’s publications are being investigated for “data irregularities” and some are being retracted, according to UW officials.
University spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that UW officials are recommending the retraction of “several” of former professor Jun Ren’s publications due to “concerns regarding data irregularities inconsistent with published conclusions.”
“The University of Wyoming has conducted an examination of selected publications of Dr. Jun Ren, a former university employee, in accordance with university policies and obligation under federal regulations concerning federally funded research,” Baldwin said.
According to Retraction Watch, a group that reports on the retraction of scientific publications, Ren has had at least two papers retracted due to “data irregularities” and “image reuse.”
One of the papers has been cited more than 100 times, while the other had been cited around 25 times.
Ren specializes in the heart and diabetes. He left the University of Wyoming around 2019 or 2020, but during his time at UW, he served as the director of a biomedical program and an associate dean.
It is not clear if the “data irregularities” contributed to the professor leaving the university.
Retraction Watch reported that an investigation into Ren’s work between 2013 and 2015 showed “reckless mistakes” and “no intention to obtain specific results.” He was removed from his position as director of the university’s INBRE program, which focuses on biomedical research following the investigation at the time.
Ren addressed the investigation into his work in a May letter to American Heart Association’s head of scientific publications Eldrin Lewis.
“I regret these mistakes from my lab, although I truly believe that these are correctable issues (some of them may reflect ‘difference of opinion),'” Ren said in the letter. “All these mistakes or ‘difference in opinion’ deal with loading controls and none had any impact on the bar graphs or study conclusion.”
He added he “overcommitted” to administrative work and failed to stay on top of his research lab more closely, but that he took responsibility for his team’s mistakes.
Ren did not agree to the retractions, according to Retraction Watch.
Ren’s letter also said that the new investigation into his work was not legitimate “since it is only based on publication figures with some vague terms (image manipulation).”
Ren was hailed last year as one of the most highly-cited researchers by analytics company Clarivate.