Fake peer reviews: They’re all the rage.
Sixteen papers are being retracted across three Elsevier journals after the publisher discovered that one of the authors, Khalid Zaman, orchestrated fake peer reviews by submitting false contact information for his suggested reviewers.
This particular kind of scam has been haunting online peer review for a few year now, as loyal Retraction Watch readers know. This one is a classic of the genre: According to Elsevier’s director of publishing services, Catriona Fennell, an editor first became suspicious after noticing that Zaman’s suggested reviewers, all with non-institutional addresses, were unusually kind to the economist’s work.
Elsevier has actually hired a full-time staff member with a PhD in physics and history as a managing editor to do the grunt work on cases like this. Flags were first raised in August, at which point the ethics watchdog went to town digging through all of Zaman’s other publications looking for suspicious reviews coming from non-institutional addresses provided by the scientist, an economist at COMSATS Information Technology Center in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Here’s the main notice: Read the rest of this entry »
Faked peer reviews — a subject about which we’ve been writing more and more recently — are concerning enough to a number of publishers that they’ve approached the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) to work together on a solution.
In the past, we have reported on a number of cases in which authors were able to submit their own peer reviews, using fake email addresses for recommended reviewers. But what seems to be happening now is that companies are offering manuscript preparation services that go as far as submitting fake peer reviews. And that, no surprise, worries publishers.
A team of entomologists in India had to put their new species celebration on hold last year, when they found out their discovery had already been discovered.
The Journal of Insect Science paper, initially published in December 2012, was retracted in October 2013, after several entomologists confirmed that the beetle was actually a previously identified species called Acanthophorus serraticornis. (The notice has a November 2014 date, but we understand that’s because the journal switched servers.)
Here’s the notice for “A new record of longicorn beetle, Acanthophorus rugiceps, from India as a root borer on physic nut, Jatropha curcas, with a description of life stages, biology, and seasonal dynamics”: Read the rest of this entry »
Jens Christian Schwamborn, a stem cell researcher at the University of Luxembourg, is retracting a 2007 paper on how to grow brain cells.
The paper, “Ubiquitination of the GTPase Rap1B by the ubiquitin ligase Smurf2 is required for the establishment of neuronal polarity,” was published while Schwamborn was at Westfälische Wilhelms‐Universität Münster in Germany. An anonymous critic had sent questions about the study to Germany’s DFG in the middle of last year, and later to Paul Brookes, who posted them on PubMed Commons.
Piero Anversa, a stem cell researcher at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and a colleague, Annarosa Leri, have sued Harvard over an investigation into their work that they claim has cost them millions in a forfeited sale of their company, and job offers.
However, questions have been mounting about his research, both on PubPeer (which has critical comments for 15 papers he’s an author on) and in other stem cell labs, who have not been able to reproduce much of Hanna’s work.
We asked Hanna about a PubPeer entry specific to a 2005 paper in Blood. Commenters have accused the authors of figure manipulation and possible data republication. Here’s a figure from that post: Read the rest of this entry »
A group of gastroenterology researchers in Italy has lost their 2010 paper in Internal and Emergency Medicine, the journal of the Italian Society of Internal Medicine, for plagiarizing and duplicate publication.
The journal Neurology has issued an expression of concern for a paper linking shingles and stroke, which got press attention when it was published.
The journal’s note refers to “errors of data presentation,” which author Judith Breuer more narrowly defined as mistakes during transcription of a table. It’s unclear whether the results themselves – that herpes zoster, the virus that causes shingles, is a risk factor for stroke and other vascular problems – are being called into question.
In April 2012, we wrote about a case of disputed authorship and misused data involving one Varun Kesherwani, a former postdoc at the University of Nebraska.
As we reported then, Kesherwani was first author of a paper in Cytokine. The second author, Ajit Sodhi, of Banaras Hindu University, claimed to have had no knowledge of the article and had not given Kesherwani permission to use the results. Thus, the retraction.
Since then, we have received numerous messages from Kesherwani objecting to our post — he claims it has hurt his employment prospects — and demanding that we take it down. At one point he even suggested in an email that we pay him to go away: Read the rest of this entry »