Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Widely used brain tumor cell line may not be what researchers thought it was

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Bengt Westermark

Bengt Westermark

Nearly 50 years ago, researchers in Uppsala, Sweden used cells from a patient to establish a brain tumor cell line that has become widely used. But a new study suggests that the most common source of that cell line used by scientists today may not be derived from that original patient’s tumor, raising questions about the results obtained in hundreds of studies.

In a new paper out today in Science Translational Medicine, Bengt Westermark, of Uppsala University, and colleagues describe what they found when they performed a forensic DNA analysis comparing the widely used version of the cell line to the original. The findings are consistent with those of other analyses in which cell lines turn out not to be what researchers thought, a problem we’ve focused some attention on.

Here’s an email interview with Westermark about the findings and their implications: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 31st, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Author lifts from one paper in two different articles. Why does one journal retract, while the other corrects?

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circ resAre there instances when similarities between papers should be fixed by a correction, rather than a retraction?

We’re asking ourselves that question after seeing two journals take very different approaches to a somewhat similar situation. Last year, Frontiers in Physiology retracted a paper by Anastasios Lymperopoulos at Nova Southeastern University in Florida because of an “an unacceptable level of similarity” to a 2009 review article by different authors. But more recently, after Circulation Research discovered another paper co-authored by Lymperopoulos also contained similar text from the same 2009 review, it decided to correct the passages.

The last author of the Circulation Research paper told us the overlap between the two papers was less than 5%, and the journal never suggested the authors retract the paper.

Here’s the correction notice in Circulation Research:

Read the rest of this entry »

Sting operation forces predatory publisher to pull paper

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Medical Archives

Sometimes, the best way to expose a problem with the publishing process is to put it to a test — perhaps by performing a Sokal-style hoax, or submitting a paper with obvious flaws.

In 2014, that’s just what a researcher in Kosovo did. Suspicious that a journal wasn’t doing a thorough job of vetting submissions, she decided to send them an article of hers that had already appeared in another journal. Her thinking was that any journal with an honest and thorough peer review process would hesitate to publish the work. But this journal didn’t — at least at first. Though they retracted the paper this summer, it took a few twists and turns to get there.

The researcher wasn’t the only one wary of the journal — it’s on Jeffrey Beall’s list of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers. Appropriately, Beall recounts the story of her sting operation on his blog. Here’s how it all went down:

Read the rest of this entry »

Former NIH postdoc doctored data

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ori-logoA genetics researcher included falsified data in two published papers, according to a report by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) released today.

At the time of the misconduct, Andrew Cullinane was a postdoctoral fellow in the Medical Genetics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). According to his LinkedIn page, he is now an assistant professor at Howard University in Washington D.C. The university’s College of Medicine lists him as an assistant professor in the Basic Sciences/Anatomy department.

As today’s notice in the Federal Register reports, Cullinane Read the rest of this entry »

Former professor shoots dean who fired him for misconduct

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MountSinai_IcahnSchool_LogoA former assistant professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York fired a shotgun yesterday at two men– including the school’s dean, who had fired him six years ago.

The New York Times reports that Hengjun Chao was taken into custody on charges of attempted murder, after his shots hit Mount Sinai dean Dennis Charney and another man outside of a suburban New York deli. Both men were treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Chao was fired from Mount Sinai in 2010 after an investigating committee found that he Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 30th, 2016 at 9:36 am

Anesthesia journal pulls study lacking patient consent

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Journal of AnesthesiaAn anesthesia journal has retracted a paper after an author admitted that the study did not obtain appropriate consent from patients receiving a neuromuscular block in muscles on the face and hands. 

The first author, Yuhji Saitoh, has the same name as a co-author of Yoshitaka Fujii, the all-time record holder with 183 retractions listed on our leaderboard. Thirty-six of those retracted papers include a co-author with the name of Yuhji Saitoh, but we were unable to confirm this is the same person listed on the newly retracted paper.  

Here’s the retraction notice, issued by the Journal of Anesthesia on August 11: Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland researcher suspended during misconduct probe: report

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Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan

A prominent researcher in Scotland has been suspended amidst a misconduct investigation at the University of Dundee.

According to The Scotsman, the allegations against Robert Ryan center around falsifying data and duplicating figures in his work about molecular bacteriology.

As the outlet reports: Read the rest of this entry »

Why do scientists commit misconduct?

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Cristy McGoff

Cristy McGoff

What makes a person fabricate data? Pressure from different corners in his or her life, to get published, funding, or promotions? Are there personality traits that occur more often among those caught committing misconduct? We spoke with Cristy McGoff, the Director of the research integrity office at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro – who also has a master’s degree in forensic psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice – about the minds of serial fraudsters.

Retraction Watch: Let’s start with your background. Why did you make the switch from forensic psychology to research compliance? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

August 29th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Weekend reads: ORI staff revolt?; Excel creates big typos in papers; how to reward reviewers

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Written by Ivan Oransky

August 27th, 2016 at 10:32 am

Posted in weekend reads

U.S. government agency sues publisher, charging it with deceiving researchers

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2000px-US-FederalTradeCommission-Seal.svgThe U.S. Federal Trade Commission has charged a publisher of hundreds of academic journals with deceiving readers about reviewing practices, publication fees, and the nature of its editorial boards.

Here’s more from a news release about the suit: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

August 26th, 2016 at 2:53 pm