Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Former Florida ob-gyn prof notches eighth retraction

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University of Florida

University of Florida

Nasser Chegini, the former University of Florida professor currently under investigation by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), has now had eight papers retracted.

The eighth paper, in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, is about the effect of a compound used during fertility treatments on Smads, signaling molecules that carry messages from TGF-beta receptors to the nucleus. It’s being retracted disappeared due to the discovery of data that “have been fabricated or falsified by the last author” — namely, Chegini.

Here’s more from the notice for “Gonadotropin releasing hormone analogue (GnRHa) alters the expression and activation of Smad in human endometrial epithelial and stromal cells:” Read the rest of this entry »

Retraction Watch is hiring!

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anniversarySince becoming our intern in June of last year, and then our first-ever staff writer in October, Cat Ferguson has written more than 200 posts, breaking news left and right. But as we noted on Twitter the other day with not a small degree of sadness, Cat has left Retraction Watch for a great gig at BuzzFeed.

That means we’re hiring.

The job is definitely fast-paced. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 27th, 2015 at 11:00 am

Trove of VA reports reveals research misconduct, medical malpractice

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va logoLast week, the Veteran Affairs Office of Inspector General released eight years of reports investigating allegations of nefarious behavior at VA hospitals and institutions around the country, ranging from mistreating a patient in Florida, misspending grant money in New York, and conducting unauthorized research in Iowa.

In one report, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Brendan Borrell

April 27th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Weekend reads: Faith-based peer review; lab bloopers; post-publication peer review etiquette

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The week at Retraction Watch featured a lawsuit over the authorship of a paper, and a look at when exactly a study should be retracted. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

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Written by Ivan Oransky

April 25th, 2015 at 9:50 am

Posted in weekend reads

When should a paper be retracted? A tale from the obesity literature

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obesity factsIn our line of work, we see it all — mega-corrections that don’t quite rise to the level of retraction, letters to the editor that point out seemingly fatal flaws in papers that remain untouched, and studies retracted for what seem like minor reasons. It can make you wonder what makes a paper worthy of a retraction. A recent case in an obesity journal may not provide a definitive answer, but it gives us a lot to chew on.

Here’s the story: In September 2013, Rosely Sichieri and a colleague from the State University of Rio de Janeiro submitted an article to Obesity Facts, “Unbalanced Baseline in School-Based Interventions to Prevent Obesity: Adjustment Can Lead to Bias?” The article examined statistical issues in randomized controlled trials of school-based weight loss programs. Peer reviewers said the paper needed major revisions before it could be accepted; the authors revised the paper enough in a second draft, submitted in November 2013, that the original reviewers accepted it. The paper was published in June 2014.

Then, in September 2014, a group of authors including David Allison of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and colleagues from Clemson, Thomas Jefferson, and the University of Minnesota, wrote a critical letter that was published in the journal in April. The letter, according to a just-published editorial: Read the rest of this entry »

Urology researcher in Iran up to six retractions

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safarinejadA urologist in Iran has lost three papers in BJU International, bringing his retraction count to a half-dozen.

In December 2013, we reported on three retractions by Mohammad Reza Safarinejad. None of those notices, about papers related to incontinence and erectile dysfunction, made the reasons for retraction very clear. After that post ran, Safarinejad told us that Hartmut Porst, former president of the European Society for Sexual Medicine, had raised questions about the data in a number of his papers. Porst confirmed that for us earlier this month.

All of the latest papers, about aspects of male sexual dysfunction, are being retracted due to “inappropriate” statistical analyses.

Here’s the notice for “Analysis of association between the 5-HTTLPR and STin2 polymorphisms in the serotonin-transporter gene and clinical response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (sertraline) in patients with premature ejaculation,” which has been cited 17 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 24th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Does peer review ferret out the best science? New study tries to answer

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Grant reviewers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health are doing a pretty good job of spotting the best proposals and ranking them appropriately, according to a new study in Science out today.

Danielle Li at Harvard and Leila Agha at Boston University found that grant proposals that earn good scores lead to research that is more cited, more published, and published in high-impact journals. These findings were upheld even when they controlled for notoriously confounding factors, such as the applicant’s institutional quality, gender, history of funding and experience, and field.

Taking all those factors into consideration, grant scores that were 1 standard deviation lower (10.17 points, in the analysis) led to research that earned 15% fewer citations and 7% fewer papers, along with 19% fewer papers in top journals.

Li tells Retraction Watch that, while some scientists may not be surprised by these findings, previous research has suggested there isn’t much of a correlation between grant scores and outcomes:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 23rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Data theft, bad authors list, and hidden funding sink mol bio paper

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dna cell biology 2A Chinese researcher has lost a paper after the journal discovered he published others’ research without permission and lied about the grant funding he used for the work.

Yihang Shen published a paper using his PhD research on the molecular biology of fetal rodent livers earlier this year in DNA and Cell Biology. Unfortunately, he didn’t have permission to publish the data. He also omitted the names of people who participated in the research, and listed an incorrect funding source.

The “cited grant,” according to the journal editor, was a grant awarded to Richard Finnell, a UT Austin researcher who often works with Shen’s PhD advisor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the well-known geneticist Fanyi Zeng.

Here’s the notice for “Characterization of Hydroxymethylation Patterns in the Promoter of b-globin Clusters in Murine Fetal Livers”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

April 23rd, 2015 at 11:30 am

Author from China blames translation company for plagiarism in retracted vascular paper

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apjcpDo we need a “throwing vendors under the bus” category here at Retraction Watch?

Earlier this year, we reported on the retraction of a paper because of sloppy work by an outside lab. Now, we have the story of a retraction for “negligence” by a translator. Specifically, the author says the passages shared between the retracted 2015 vascular paper and another paper in EMBO Journal are a result of “negligence on the part of the translation company that I trusted to make my manuscript ready for submission.”

Here’s more from the notice in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, written by Yong Jiang, of Laboratory Medical College, Jilin Medical College, China: Read the rest of this entry »

Skeleton crew’s second paper broken over methodology issues; more retractions to appear

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Olga Panagiotopoulou, via University of Queensland

Bone researcher Olga Panagiotopoulou of the University of Queensland has lost a second paper over “errors in the validation protocol and data.”

The retracted paper in the Journal of Biomechanics, about primate jaws, was subject to an expression of concern in May 2014 November 2013, one of two Panagiotopoulou’s group issued last year over methodological problems. The other paper was later retracted. According to Panagiotopoulou, there will be two more retractions forthcoming, both in the Journal of Anatomy. 

According John Hutchinson, last author of the other retracted paper, that withdrawal was the result of an investigation at his school, the Royal Veterinary College.

Panagiotopoulou emailed us with an explanation:

Read the rest of this entry »