A day after the University of Wyoming confirmed that it investigated one of its former professors’ work for “data irregularities,” a UW spokesman said top university officials requested 33 of the professor’s papers be retracted.
UW spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that from 2015 to 2021, the university investigated allegations of “data irregularities” made against professor Jun Ren, who left UW in 2020.
“The university has been following all applicable processes and procedures in reviewing the claims at issue,” Baldwin said. “Following its review, the university requested retractions of 33 publications co-authored by Dr. Ren, most of which are in editorial review by publishers.”
Baldwin said that considering the ongoing review of the data irregularities claims and certain state and federal laws protecting Ren’s privacy, the university has not made “public disclosures” related to the claims against Ren.
“The university takes any allegations of data irregularities seriously and has policies and training in place addressing research ethics that are available to students and faculty,” Baldwin said.
According to Retraction Watch, a group that reports on the retraction of scientific publications, Ren has already 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. 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.