Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

After journal retracts their paper, authors post rebuttal on arXiv

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In July 2017, just days after accepting and publishing a paper, a physics journal discovered several scientific errors” and decided to retract it.

But the authorsAlexander Kholmetskii and Tolga Yarman—strongly objected to the journal’s decision, so much so they published a detailed rebuttal to the retraction on the preprint server arXiv.

The paper explores a new principle related to Einstein’s theory of relativity. According to the authors, after the Canadian Journal of Physics notified them on July 17 about the decision to retract the paper, they asked the editor to publish their objection “to defend our sound point of view, and beyond this, our scientific reputation.” But Kholmetskiiwho lists his affiliation at Belarus State University in Minsk, and Yarman, a professor at Okan University in Istanbul—told us that the editor found their response “inappropriate.” As a result, the authors turned to aiXiv to protest the retraction.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Conservative relativity principle and energy-momentum conservation in a superimposed gravitational and electric field:” Read the rest of this entry »

Ethical concerns arise for head of controversial stem cell clinic

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Geeta Shroff. Photo credit: Nutech Mediworld

Journals are raising ethical concerns about the research of a doctor who offers controversial embryonic stem cell treatments.

Two journals have issued expressions of concern for three papers by Geeta Shroff, who was the subject of a 2012 CNN investigative documentary. All cite ethical concerns; one mentions the potential link between the procedure the authors describe and a risk of forming teratomas, a type of tumor. Shroff has objected to all three notices.

Shroff, a doctor offering controversial embryonic stem cell treatments at her New Delhi clinic, Nutech Mediworld, has said that for years she couldn’t find opportunities to present her research to the medical community. Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: Another retraction for researcher paid $100k to leave uni

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Via Wikimedia

When Retraction Watch began in 2010, our co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus quickly realized they couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of retractions that appeared each year.  And the problem has only gotten worse — although we’ve added staff, the number of retractions issued each year has increased dramatically. According to our growing database, just shy of 1,000 retractions were issued last year (and that doesn’t include expressions of concern and errata). So to get new notices in front of readers more quickly, we’ve started a new feature called “Caught our Notice,” where we highlight a recent notice that stood out from the others. If you have any information about what happened, feel free to contact us at retractionwatchteam@gmail.com.

Title:  Diabetes and Overexpression of proNGF Cause Retinal Neurodegeneration via Activation of RhoA Pathway  and  Diabetes-Induced Superoxide Anion and Breakdown of the Blood-Retinal Barrier: Role of the VEGF/uPAR Pathway 

What caught our attention:

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Journal: Publish here, and we’ll pay you $500

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A new journal is offering something we’ve never seen before: A cash reward to corresponding authors of papers it publishes.

Normally, in the case of open-access journals, researchers have to pay article processing charges (APCs). But Minimally Invasive Surgical Oncology, an open-access journal launched at the end of last year, flips the typical narrative — it will pay corresponding authors $500 for every original or review article it accepts. If any author joins the editorial board, the payment — which the journal dubs “royalties” — increases to $600.

Editor Wenyuan Chen admitted it’s an unusual policy:

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Written by Alison McCook

October 18th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Researcher apologizes for ignoring early warnings about earthquake data

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In 2016, three researchers published data they had collected on a series of devastating earthquakes that hit Japan earlier that year.

But, in late September 2017, one of the authors—Hiroyuki Goto—revealed that the Kumamoto Earthquake data contained “wide reaching errors”—and an outside expert had warned him the data might be problematic nine months earlier.  

Goto, an associate professor in the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University, issued two statements in which he acknowledged the errors, but did not indicate how they occurred. According to The Japan Times, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is investigating whether the data “was falsified or fabricated due to inconsistencies with other readings taken nearby.” A report in another Japanese paper, The Mainichi, notes that Osaka University—where one of the authors, Yoshiya Hata, works—is looking into the matter as well.

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Written by Victoria Stern

October 18th, 2017 at 8:52 am

21 faculty at Johns Hopkins threaten to resign from board if journal doesn’t retract paper

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More than 20 faculty members at Johns Hopkins University have signed a letter to Scientific Reports saying they will resign from the editorial board if the journal doesn’t retract a 2016 paper.

The paper is problematic, they argue, because a biologist at Johns Hopkins claims it plagiarized his work. One of that biologist’s colleagues at Hopkins has already resigned from the journal’s editorial board over its decision to correct (and not retract) the paper; last week, another 21 people told the journal they’d do the same.

The letter to the journal also includes a side-by-side comparison between the 2016 paper and the work it allegedly plagiarized. The board members note:

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Written by Alison McCook

October 17th, 2017 at 11:22 am

Boys will be boys: Data error prompts U-turn on study of sex differences in school

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The authors of a 2017 paper on emotional and behavioral gaps between boys and girls have retracted the article after discovering a coding error that completely undermined their conclusions.

The revelation prompted the researchers to republish their findings in the same journal, this time with a title that flips the narrative.

The PsychJournal study, first published in March, looked at self-regulation — loosely defined as the ability to get stuff done and keep a lid on it —  in boys and girls in German elementary schools. Although previous studies had found girls might do better on this front, the authors, from the University of Leipzig and New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus, initially found the opposite:

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Division director leaving U.S. research watchdog after nearly 15 years

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Susan Garfinkel

The director of the Division of Investigative Oversight at the U.S. Office of Research Integrity is leaving the agency.

Susan Garfinkel told Retraction Watch that her last day is November 10. She is taking a position as assistant vice president in the Office of Research Compliance at The Ohio State University (OSU).

Garfinkel declined to comment on why she was leaving the agency:

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Written by Alison McCook

October 16th, 2017 at 11:37 am

Caught Our Notice: Investigation finds “accidental mistakes” in PNAS stem cell paper

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Via Wikimedia

When Retraction Watch began in 2010, our co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus quickly realized they couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of retractions that appeared each year.  And the problem has only gotten worse — although we’ve added staff, the number of retractions issued each year has increased dramatically. According to our growing database, just shy of 1,000 retractions were issued last year (and that doesn’t include expressions of concern and errata). So to get new notices in front of readers more quickly, we’ve started a new feature called “Caught our Notice,” where we highlight a recent notice that stood out from the others. If you have any information about what happened, feel free to contact us at retractionwatchteam@gmail.com.

Title: Combined hydrogels that switch human pluripotent stem cells from self-renewal to differentiation 

What caught our attention: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

October 16th, 2017 at 8:30 am

Weekend reads: Systemic fraud in China; science without journals; authorship rules decay

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The week at Retraction Watch featured the retraction of a paper that had been called “anti-vaccine pseudoscience,” a retraction following threats of violence against an editor, and an editorial board member’s resignation over how a journal handled a case of plagiarism. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 14th, 2017 at 10:24 am

Posted in weekend reads