Suspected Ethical Violations Behind Demand for Retraction of Over 400 Peer-Reviewed Articles

Authors of an article published in the British Journal BMJ Open claim that documentation of donor sources in papers by Chinese transplant professionals does not comply with internationally accepted ethical standards. After reviewing 445 research papers from the peer-reviewed medical literature between 2000 and 2017, the Australian-led research team is demanding that over 400 previously published scientific articles be retracted on ethical grounds as international standards on research ethics “exclude publication of research that: (1) involves any biological material from executed prisoners; (2) lacks Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and (3) lacks consent of donors.”

News media from around the world including The Guardian, New Atlas, 10 Daily, The Epoch Times, Fox News, and Big Think have reported on the review article, greatly enhancing its impact.

The study’s authors conclude, “The transplant community has failed to implement ethical standards banning publication of research using material from executed prisoners. As a result, a large body of unethical published research now exists, raising questions of complicity to the extent that the transplant community uses and benefits from the results of this research. Our study has identified the extent of this problem as well as specific papers containing demonstrably false claims about organ sourcing. There has been a significant lack of vigilance and failure to adhere to accepted ethical standards by reviewers, editors and publishers. Researchers and clinicians who use this body of research risk complicity by implicitly accepting Chinese methods of organ procurement. We call for immediate retraction of all papers reporting research based on use of organs from executed prisoners, and an international summit to develop future policy for handling Chinese transplant research.”