Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Beleaguered Förster turns down prestigious professorship, citing personal toll

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Jens Förster

Jens Förster, a social scientist accused of research misconduct, has turned down a highly coveted — and well-endowed — professorship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Foster explained his decision to decline the 5 million Euro award in a post on his personal website: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

April 20th, 2015 at 11:07 am

Former postdoc suing lab head for publishing paper he says he wrote, without his name

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plos biologyA pharmaceutical researcher is suing his postdoctoral advisor and former business partner, accusing him of publishing a paper in PLoS Biology they wrote together, and removing him as an author.

According to the complaint, Andrew Mallon and John Marshall co-founded a company, Ardane Therapeutic, to commercialize a potential therapy that Mallon discovered for Angelman Sydrome, a developmental disorder characterized by cognitive impairment and autism.

In 2011, the two, along with several other members of Marshall’s lab at Brown University, wrote and submitted a paper to Neuron (listing Mallon as the first author), which was not accepted. Shortly after submission, “Mallon and Marshall had a falling out,” the complaint says — specifically, they “disagreed about how Ardane should be operated and about the required standards of legal and ethical conduct.” Mallon left the lab and founded his own company, Calista Therapeutics.

In 2013, Marshall and his team published a paper in PLoS Biology, “Impairment of TrkB-PSD-95 Signaling in Angelman Syndrome,” that had some passages taken almost verbatim from the Neuron submission, the complaint says, but Mallon was not included as an author. According to the lawsuit:

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Written by Cat Ferguson

April 20th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Weekend reads: Aussie scientists bend rules; how to fix peer review once and for all; crazy structure alert

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured the retraction of 11 papers by a controversial researcher in Italy, and a look at the controversy over lead in the water supply. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 18th, 2015 at 10:46 am

Posted in weekend reads

Cancer team loses two papers for image manipulation

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bba_2A team spread across multiple institutions in China and McGill University in Canada has retracted two cancer papers over “inaccurate and inappropriately processed Western Blots.”

Some of the figures were also reused between the two articles, both in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta General Subjects.

The articles both tested the cancer-fighting properties of a derivative of the active compound present in Boswellia serrata gum resin.

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Citation manipulation the last straw for modified rice straw paper

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jnm_coverThe Journal of Nanomaterials has retracted a paper on modified rice straw over citation manipulation.

Rice straw, which makes up nearly half of the biomass in rice plants, is generally considered agricultural waste. However, in recent years scientists have discovered ways to modify the raw material to make it capable of absorbing heavy metal ions, making it useful to both prevent and clean up pollution from industrial processes.

The retracted paper, which analyzed the physical properties of different kinds of modified rice straw, was retracted for citation manipulation.

Here’s the short (and to the point) retraction for “Mechanical and Thermal Stability Properties of Modified Rice Straw Fiber Blend with Polycaprolactone Composite”: Read the rest of this entry »

Controversial Italian scientist loses 11 papers from journal he used to edit

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Alberto Carpinteri, via Politecnico di Torino

Alberto Carpinteri, via Politecnico di Torino

Alberto Carpinteri is something of a Renaissance man.

Along with championing a highly controversial form of energy generation called “piezonuclear fission,” which involves crushing rocks, the engineer has argued that the Shroud of Turin really is as old as Jesus, but carbon dating was thrown off by an earthquake.

Not everyone agrees with his ideas: In 2012, more than 1,000 scientists signed a petition asking the Italian National Institute of Metrological Research (or INRIM, of which Carpinteri was director at the time) not to fund piezonuclear fission.

Carpinteri was also editor in chief of the journal Meccanica until 2014, when Luigi Gambarotta took over. Now, Meccanica is retracting 11 of its former EIC’s papers, including the one on the Shroud, and a number on piezonuclear fission, which Wired Italy put on their list of “most famous science hoaxes.” The reason? According to the notice, “the editorial process had been compromised.” Read the rest of this entry »

Teflon toxicity paper fails to stick

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toxicological sciencesAn advanced online paper on prenatal toxicity of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), an industrial chemical used to make waterproof coatings and Teflon, is being retracted due to “some minor errors.”

High blood levels of PFOA have been tied to kidney disease in humans, as well as several cancers in animal models. The majority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific advisory board deemed PFOA “likely to be carcinogenic in humans” in 2006, though a decade later the EPA has yet to make a decision on regulations. The retracted paper found that exposing pregnant mice to PFOA altered hormone pathways in mammary glands.

According to the notice in Toxicological Sciences, there was a duplicated image in one of the figures, as well as “some minor errors.” Here’s figure 5B: Read the rest of this entry »

Nature retracts epigenetics paper by author who lost two Science papers last year

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cover_natureFrank Sauer, formerly of the University of California, Riverside, has had a 2002 letter on epigenetics retracted from Nature due to “inappropriate image manipulation.”

Sauer had two papers retracted from Science last year following a university investigation. Here’s the Nature notice for “Histone methylation by the Drosophila epigenetic transcriptional regulator Ash1:” Read the rest of this entry »

Gynecologic cancer researcher earns eighth retraction

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Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 5.50.31 PMNoriyuki Takai, a gynecologic cancer researcher in Japan, has notched one more retraction — bringing the total to eight — due to figures that were “processed inappropriately” and did “not accurately report the original data.”

According to the notice, Takai alone put the figures together in the 2006 Oncology paper, which tested a histone deacetylase inhibitor on endometrial and ovarian cancer cell lines. The team is part of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Oita University in Japan.

Takai lost four papers in 2013 in Cancer Letters, and three papers in 2012 in Gynecologic Oncology, also due to issues with figures.

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Expression of concern opens floodgates of controversy over lead in water supply

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journal-awwa-cover-feb-2015An expression of concern has been published on a paper that taps into a decades-long fight over how to remove lead from the water supply.

The paper in question, published in the Journal American Water Works Association, supports the safety of a common but frequently criticized way of incrementally removing lead pipes. The expression of concern came after years of back-and-forth  letters to the editor between other scientists and the authors.

Lead water pipes have been causing lead poisoning for generations; some people have even theorized that the ancient Romans’ use of the metal facilitated the empire’s downfall. The dangers of childhood exposure to lead — delayed development, irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system and behavioral problems — have been documented in the U.S. since the 1940s, but the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t start regulating lead levels in drinking water until 1991, when the “lead and copper rule” went into effect. That set the standard for utility companies’ lead testing: if 10 percent or more of samples from homes had lead levels above 15 parts per billion, the companies were required to replace 7% of their lead pipes a year until they met the requirements.

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