Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Drug paper gets a fix, notching several corrections

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rsc_tb_1_3_COVER.inddThe Journal of Materials Chemistry B has issued a laundry list of corrections for a 2014 chemotherapy paper, which address re-use of “some text”, incorrectly stated doses, and miscalculations of the drug concentration, among other issues.

The paper described a new way to deliver gemcitabine via nanoparticles, focusing the drug on the tumors.

It turns out the authors’ focus wasn’t so clear when writing the paper. The researchers, at the Chinese Academy of Medical Science, Peking Union Medical College, and Tianjin University in China, said they used “some text” from two 2013 papers by a team of French oncologists “without appropriate attribution,” as well as repeatedly getting the in vivo dose wrong. The manuscript also contained several incorrect calculations of the “drug loading,” or the proportion of active drug.

Here’s the correction for “Tailor-made gemcitabine prodrug nanoparticles from well-defined drug–polymer amphiphiles prepared by controlled living radical polymerization for cancer chemotherapy” (free, but requires sign-in): Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing gold can stay: gold nanoparticle paper retracted for figure theft

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matresexpA paper on gold nanoparticles has been retracted after the publisher learned one of the figures had a “high degree of similarity” to a figure published by other authors a few months prior.

According to the notice, it was two authors of the retracted paper themselves who pointed out the overlap. The first author, Pratap Sahoo, is not mentioned, although it does say all three authors agreed to retract. The corresponding author of the original paper told us he was unaware of the incident.

You can compare the figures for yourself – on the left is figure 6(a) from the retracted Materials Research Express paper, rotated 90 degrees. On the right is figure 4(e) from “Porous Au Nanoparticles with Tunable Plasmon Resonances and Intense Field Enhancements for Single-Particle SERS,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters: Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: Monsanto demands retraction; fast-track peer review for fee scrutinized; fraud in China

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booksThis week at Retraction Watch featured 43 papers retracted at once for fake peer reviews. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 28th, 2015 at 9:32 am

Posted in weekend reads

“Not faithful” figures kill apoptosis paper

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iaicoverA paper on apoptosis in mice has been retracted by Infection and Immunity after a reader tipped them off that several figures were “not faithful representations of the original data.”

When the journal, published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), contacted the authors at Anhui Medical University in Hefei, China, they claimed they couldn’t provide the experimental data thanks to “damage to a personal computer,” said Ferric Fang, editor of the journal and a member of the board of directors of the Center for Scientific Integrity, Retraction Watch’s parent organization. Seven figures in total were compromised, including several that were duplicated throughout the article.

Here’s the notice for “Reactive Oxygen Species-Triggered Trophoblast Apoptosis Is Initiated by Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress via Activation of Caspase-12, CHOP, and the JNK Pathway in Toxoplasma gondii Infection in Mice”: Read the rest of this entry »

Cabbage batch skids: new experiments dry up plant paper

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current biologyProminent plant researcher Mark Estelle has retracted a paper on plant hormones after follow-up studies showed the conclusions were incorrect.

The hormone in question, auxin, is a major player in plant growth and development. The retracted Current Biology paper reported that a certain auxin receptor, designated AFB4, downregulates the responses of cabbage-cousin Arabidopsis thaliana to the signaling molecule. But after publication, the researchers experimented with a mutant seedling that didn’t produce the receptor, and discovered it didn’t overreact to auxin signals, indicating the receptor wasn’t playing a major role in limiting the effects.

Estelle, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator based at the University of California, San Diego, told us he and his team are working on a paper that will contain the accurate data from the paper, along with new findings.

Here’s the notice for “The AFB4 Auxin Receptor Is a Negative Regulator of Auxin Signaling in Seedlings”, which has 62 citations, per Google Scholar: Read the rest of this entry »

Data “irregularities” sink paper on water treatment

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desal water treatmentDesalination and Water Treatment has retracted a paper it published in January by a pair of Turkish researchers for “irregularities in the methodology and data management.”

The article, “Molecular simulation of Zn2+, Cu2+, Pb2+, and NH4+ ion-exchange in Clinoptilolite,” investigated how well different natural forms of the zeolite Clinoptilolite remove heavy metals from wastewater. It came from the lab of Mehmet Göktuğ Ahunbay, of Istanbul Technical University, accompanied by first author Barış Demir.

According to the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

BioMed Central retracting 43 papers for fake peer review

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bmc logoBioMed Central is retracting 43 papers, following their investigation into 50 papers that raised suspicions of fake peer review, possibly involving third-party companies selling the service.

In November 2014 we wrote about fake peer reviews for Nature; at that point there had been about 110 retractions across several journals. The addition of 16 retractions by Elsevier for the same reason, and today’s 43 from BMC, brings retractions resulting from the phenomenon up to about 170.

BMC has also contacted institutions regarding 60 additional papers that were rejected for publication, but seem to be part of the same kind of scam. Regarding the third-party agents, BMC senior editor of scientific integrity Elizabeth Moylan writes: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

March 26th, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Pain paper scratched for authorship issues

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ejacoverA group of pain researchers in Austria has lost their 2014 paper in the European Journal of Anaesthesiology because one of the authors wasn’t, well, one of the authors.

The article, “Intravenous nonopioid analgesic drugs in chronic low back pain patients on chronic opioid treatment: A crossover, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study,” came from a team at the Medical University Vienna and Evangelical Hospital Vienna.

During the study, the authors tested whether intravenous infusions of nonopioid drugs (such as paracetamol, or Tylenol) helped people with chronic back pain who take opioids regularly. They found that people’s pain levels decreased in the days leading up to treatment, when they were receiving a placebo, but not after the actual infusion. The results likely stem from “expectation-related mechanisms,” they wrote. Read the rest of this entry »

Unkosher reuse of data forces retraction of minced pork paper

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foodmicroThe journal Food Microbiology has pulled a 2012 paper on pork processing which, as we reported earlier, contained salami-sliced data.

The article, “Bayesian inference for quantifying Listeria monocytogenes prevalence and concentration in minced pork meat from presence/absence microbiological testing,” came from a group at the Department of Food Science and Technology at the Agricultural University of Athens, in Greece.

According to the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

March 25th, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Bitter herbs: Parsley paper retracted after authors omit colleague

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ljfp20.v018.i06.coverA pair of plant experts at Uludag University, in Turkey, has lost a paper on techniques for drying parsley because they evidently left a key contributor off the manuscript.

The article, “Effect of Vacuum, Microwave, and Convective Drying on Selected Parsley Quality,” was published online in June 2011 by the International Journal of Food Properties.

During the study, the authors subjected parsley (Petroselinum crispum Mill.) to the various drying techniques, then measured how much each degraded the sample.  Ascorbic acid — a particularly “important indicator of quality,” according to the authors — was lowest after convective drying, and highest after using the microwave. “At the end of the study, microwave drying at 750–850 W ensured the shortest drying time and the best overall quality of parsley; thus, it was chosen as the most appropriate technique for parsley drying.”

But as the retraction notice states: Read the rest of this entry »