Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Paper on chemtrails, a favorite subject of conspiracy theorists, retracted

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A paper claiming to expose the “tightly held secret” that long clouds trailing from jets are toxic coal fly ash — and not, as the U.S. government says, primarily composed of harmless ice crystals — has been retracted.

The paper is called “Evidence of Coal-Fly-Ash Toxic Chemical Geoengineering in the Troposphere: Consequences for Public Health,” and was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in August. Author J. Marvin Herndon — a geophysicist, and self-described “independent researcher” — also distributed a press release about the findings.

The abstract explains:

The author presents evidence that toxic coal combustion fly ash is the most likely aerosolized particulate sprayed by tanker-jets for geoengineering, weather-modification and climate-modification purposes and describes some of the multifold consequences on public health.

The detailed retraction note, authored by the academic editor of the paper, Paul B. Tchounwou, a biologist at Jackson State University, points out some errors with the science, and notes that the “language of the paper is often not sufficiently scientifically objective:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

September 3rd, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Three retractions for geriatric medicine researcher

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Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 11.51.11 AMA trio of papers on health issues in elderly patients, all sharing an author, have been retracted from Geriatrics & Gerontology International. 

The reasons for the retractions range from expired kits, an “unattributed overlap” with another paper, “authorship issues,” and issues over sample sizes.

Tomader Taha Abdel Rahman, a researcher at Ain Shams University in Cairo, is the first author on two of the papers, and second author on the third.

Here’s the retraction note for a paper that showed elderly adults with chronic hepatitis C are at risk of having cognitive issues:

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Stem cell researcher Jacob Hanna’s correction count updated to 10

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Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna

Thanks to some eagle-eyed readers, we’ve been alerted to some corrections for high profile stem cell scientist Jacob Hanna that we had missed, bringing our count to one retraction and 13 errata on 10 papers.

The problems in the work range from duplications of images, to inadvertent deletions in figures, to failures by his co-authors to disclose funding sources or conflicts of interest. Hanna is the first or last author on 4 of the papers, and one of several on the rest.

First up, a correction to a Cell paper on which Hanna is the first author:

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NSF investigation of high-profile plant retractions ends in two debarments

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Jorge Vivanco

Jorge Vivanco

A nearly ten-year-long series of investigations into a pair of plant physiologists who received millions in funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation has resulted in debarments of less than two years for each of the researchers.

The NSF Office of Inspector General recently posted its close-out report on its decision and a review of the University’s investigation, which had recommended a total of eight retractions or corrections. Although the investigator’s names have been redacted, the text of retractions and corrections quoted in the report corresponds to papers by Read the rest of this entry »

Retraction of grizzly bear-diabetes study follows departure of Amgen scientist for data manipulation

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The retracted paper made the cover of the August 2014 issue of the journal.

A study that looked to hibernating bears to understand the mechanisms behind diabetes has been retracted because an author based at the biotech company Amgen “manipulated specific experimental data” in two figures.

According to the The Wall Street JournalAmgen discovered the manipulation while reviewing the data following publication of the paper,”Grizzly bears exhibit augmented insulin sensitivity while obese prior to a reversible insulin resistance during hibernation.” Published in Cell Metabolism last year, the paper has been cited 8 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

A press release from the journal last year — coverage in Science and Nature followed — explained the purpose of the study:

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Written by Shannon Palus

September 2nd, 2015 at 9:30 am

Authors’ pharma ties cause Cochrane to withdraw two diabetes reviews

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Cochrane_LogoThe Cochrane Library has withdrawn two reviews evaluating the effectiveness of diabetes treatments because some of the papers’ authors work with pharmaceutical companies.

Bianca Hemmingsen, first author on both reviews, told us the Cochrane Library asked the authors to remove the researchers with ties to pharma, but after one “refused to withdraw,” both papers were pulled entirely.

However, Hemmingsen insists that their employment had no impact on either paper.

This breaks the typical mold for Cochrane withdrawals, which are usually only pulled to indicate updates and show that older reviews no longer represent the best evidence.

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Two groups mistakenly publish case reports on the same patient

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Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics

Talk about a popular patient: A woman who developed a case of internal bleeding while taking the anticoagulant Xarelto (rivaroxaban) was written up in not one — but two — case reports. The trouble was, both groups didn’t realize what the other was doing, so the more recent article is now being retracted from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

The authors, a trio of doctors at Sakarya University in Turkey, described the case of a 75 year-old woman who came to the emergency room for fatigue and stomach pain after taking rivaroxaban for three days. A scan revealed a rectus sheath hematoma.

However, the case had already been published a few months earlier in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology by a separate group of doctors from Sakarya, along with authors from Yenikent State Hospital and Vakfikebir State Hospital.

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Updated: Author resigns from West Point following paper legitimizing attacks on scholars who question terror tactics

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[Note: This post has been updated with new information about the author’s resignation.]

Following criticisms of a 2015 paper which proposed attacks on scholars who question the government’s handling of the war on terror, the author has resigned from his post at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The nearly 200-page paper, “Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column,” appeared in the National Security Law Journal of George Mason University School of Law, in Virginia. It was written by William C. Bradford, who is a somewhat controversial figure.

In the paper, Bradford, assistant professor at the United States Military Academy, criticizes U.S. academics who specialize in armed conflict and claim “that the Islamist jihad is a response to valid grievances against U.S. foreign policy”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

August 31st, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Investigation of prominent geneticist Latchman finds “procedural matters,” no misconduct

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David Latchman, Birkbeck

An investigation by the University College London has cleared prominent geneticist David Latchman of misconduct, but concluded he has “procedural matters in his lab that required attention.”

Latchman has two retracted paperson PubPeer, there are questions about nearly four dozen more.

The results of the investigation were first reported by the Times Higher Education. We also received a short statement from a UCL spokesperson:

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PubPeer founders reveal themselves, create foundation

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The creators of PubPeer dropped their own anonymity today, as part of an announcement about a new chapter in the life of the post-publication peer review site.

By now, Retraction Watch readers will be familiar with Founded in 2012, the commenting site has allowed for robust discussions of scientific papers — which in turn have led to corrections and retractions. (We regularly feature discussions there in our PubPeer Selections feature.) The site has many supporters — including us — but also some critics, one of whom has filed suit against its commenters, arguing anonymous comments cost him a job opportunity. (Late last week, PubPeer learned that a judge had granted them the right to appeal the most recent decision in that case.)

Like most of the commenters on the site, whose careers could be threatened if they were exposed as critics, the founders of the site have until now been anonymous.

Today, however, founders Brandon Stell, George Smith, and Richard Smith unmasked themselves. They are joined on a board of directors by Boris Barbour and Gabor Brasnjo. Stell and Barbour are practicing scientists, while Brasnjo, who trained as a scientist, works as an attorney. Here’s the whole statement, followed by a Q&A with Stell: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 31st, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in pubpeer selections