Following weeks of scrutiny, the daughter of a high-profile official in South Korea has had a paper she wrote as a high school student retracted, in part because the journal determined she had made no intellectual contributions to the study.
Cho Kuk, who was officially appointed yesterday (September 9) as the top justice official in South Korea, is embroiled in a controversy over undeserved academic advantages his daughter, Cho Min, obtained.
According to a story by Reuters about the larger controversy last week:
Some of the allegations against Cho’s daughter that have drawn the most ire include her being named as first author of a medical paper in the Korea Journal of Pathology in 2009, when she was still in high school and had just completed a two-week internship at Dankook University’s institute of medical science.
She also failed her exams at Pusan National University’s medical school twice, according to school records, but not only kept her place but got scholarships worth a total of 12 million won ($9,900) over six semesters between 2016 and 2018.
About that paper, on which the young Cho was first author: We’ve just learned that last week, the journal — now called the Journal of Pathology and Translational Medicine — retracted the article, “eNOS Gene Polymorphisms in Perinatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy.” As the notice explains:
This article  has been retracted at the request of the Editors. Journal of Pathology and Translational Medicine, formerly known as Korean Journal of Pathology (1967 – 2014), requires that Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is received for all studies on human subjects and that authors follow guidelines for research and publication ethics.
Concerns were raised about unjustified authorship and false statements regarding IRB approval. After evaluating the concerns carefully, we asked the corresponding author to provide an explanation for the concerns. The corresponding author notified the Journal that IRB approval from the author’s institution was not obtained for the human subjects research described in the article. In addition, the corresponding author stated that the five co-authors (MC, KSH, DCC, IYC, and MJK) were attributed as authors without having made intellectual contributions to this study, and therefore agreed with changing the five persons’ co-authorship to contributorship. In Korea, unjustified authorship is construed as a type of research misconduct (Ministry of Science and Technology, directive No.236, enacted 2007.2.8.).
As a consequence, the Editors of Journal of Pathology and Translational Medicine retract this article. The corresponding author agrees to the retraction and apologizes to the Korean Society of Pathologists for any inconvenience caused by the publication and retraction of this article.
The paper has been cited just once, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Knowledge.
Just goes to show you: Nepotism is like passing in football. Only three things can happen, and two of them are bad.
Retraction Watchis a blog that reports on retractions of scientific papers and on related topics. The blog was launched in August 2010 and is produced by science writers Ivan Oransky (Vice President, Editorial Medscape) and Adam Marcus (editor of Gastroenterology &;; Endoscopy News). Its parent organization is the Center for Scientific Integrity