Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Lancet retracts and republishes cardiology paper with admirable notice

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logo_lancetOne of the papers from a massive heart disease study in China, published in the Lancet, has been retracted and republished after the authors noticed a major statistical error.

The article, by authors from Peking Union Medical College in China, Yale University, and elsewhere, presented the results of the China PEACE-Retrospective Acute Myocardial Infarction Study, part of a national initiative to study and improve care for cardiac problems. After being posted online on June 24, 2014, the authors noticed that they’d incorrectly weighed one of the cities in their calculations, which threw off a number of national estimates.

After the corrections were made, the paper was peer-reviewed again, and reviewers stated that despite the mistakes, the original conclusions were sound.

Today is a banner day on Retraction Watch: This is our second excellent example of transparency in 24 hours, and therefore the second entry in our “doing the right thing” category. An editorial lays out exactly what happened, including a timeline, allowing scientists to feel confident they’re basing the next research step on solid and accurate data. (We also appreciate the hat tip to the Committee on Publication Ethics retraction guidelines, which we often send out to editors of bad notices as a gentle reminder.)

Here’s the notice for “ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in China from 2001 to 2011 (the China PEACE-Retrospective Acute Myocardial Infarction Study): a retrospective analysis of hospital data”: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors issue a model retraction for mistaken bacterial identity

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jcmA group in the Netherlands has retracted a case study on the diarrheal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, commonly found in animal feces, after repeated tests showed the bacteria was actually C. fetus, which also causes spontaneous abortion in cows and sheep.

The 46-year-old man who had previously had an aortic valve replacement came to the doctors with endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Initial tests showed that it was due to a C. jejuni infection, which often lives in chickens, wombats, kangaroos, and sheep.

Only a few cases of endocarditis caused by C. jejuni had ever been reported. Unfortunately, a thorough followup made it clear that a different pathogen was at play. Let’s consider this retraction a model for all others in its clarity and thoroughness.

Take it away, notice for “Aortic Homograft Endocarditis Caused by Campylobacter jejuni“: Read the rest of this entry »

The mysterious case of the missing — and urgent — retraction

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Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 5.09.59 PMOn January 12, we got hold of a retraction at AGRIVITA Journal of Agricultural Science a small journal published by the University of Brawijaya in Indonesia.

We went about our usual process, emailing authors and editors looking for more details. The retraction mentioned a double publication. It gave enough details that we’re fairly sure the earlier publication was this one, “Performance of Korean Soybean Varieties in Indonesia,” in the Journal of the Korean Society of International Agriculture. 

However, when we went back to write up this post, we noticed something odd. The retraction notice of “Expressions of Introduced Soybean Varieties from Korea” was no longer to be found! And the link to the paper itself now forwards you on to the main page for Agrivita.

It still shows up in Google: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

January 29th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Fraud retraction appears for deceased Maryland dental researcher

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osomoporeA former dental researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, has lost a 2009 paper in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology for fabricating his data on an NIH-funded study.

The researcher, Mark A. Scheper, is not identified in the retraction notice as the person implicated in the university investigation. However, one of his co-authors confirmed his involvement. Scheper died in January 2014 at age 45 of natural causes, according to the Maryland State Medical Examiner.

The article was titled “The oncogenic effects of constitutive Stat3 signaling in salivary gland cancer cells are mediated by survivin and modulated by the NSAID sulindac.” It appeared online in March 2009, and has been cited six times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

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

Written by amarcus41

January 29th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Bad image prompts correction of Harvard-Brigham stem cell paper by Anversa

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circresA group of Harvard stem cell researchers who already have one retraction and an expression of concern now have a correction. This one’s in Circulation Research, and it involves an image that previously had been flagged as suspicious in our comments.

The group is led by Piero Anversa, who as we reported last year is one of two researchers suing Harvard because the institution’s investigation into their work

has cost them millions in a forfeited sale of their company, and job offers.

Read the rest of this entry »

“The main improvements reported are invalid”: Quantum communication paper retracted

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scientificreportsA paper on quantum communication has been retracted for failing to address several important problems, making the conclusions invalid.

Quantum communication involves sending a series of photons in specific quantum states over fiberoptic cables. It’s a little like the 1s and 0s of traditional computing, but much more secure. If the photons are intercepted on their way to the intended target, the quantum states will change, and the recipients can know their information was accessed by other parties. This is especially interesting to governments with a lot of secret information to transmit: both China and the U.S. have programs to develop these networks.

The retracted paper was a discussion of how to efficiently send lots of quantum information from different sources through the same fiberoptic cables at once.

Here’s the notice for “Efficient Quantum Transmission in Multiple-Source Networks”: Read the rest of this entry »

Serial plagiarist loses 13 papers

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NeoheliconAccusations of plagiarism spanning at least 14 years have finally caught up with Richard Lawrence Etienne Barnett, who has had 13 papers retracted from a journal he had guest edited.

The dean of the for-profit University of Atlanta has been accused of copying his own and others’ work a number of times, as we wrote in November.

Here’s the notice from Neohelicon editor Péter Hajdu: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

January 28th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Georgia State student paper retracts article for faked quotes, fires writer

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Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 2.53.55 PMGeorgia State University student newspaper The Signal pulled an article and dropped a writer after discovering he lied about talking to a school spokesperson and made up quotes.

The paper tells Retraction Watch that the undergraduate, Rico Johnson, has been removed from the staff of the paper.

Here’s the notice for “Georgia State planning renovation for new media production center”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

January 27th, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Second retraction appears for former accounting professor James Hunton

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James Hunton, via Bentley University

James Hunton, via Bentley University

It took five months, but in December a second retraction popped up for disgraced accounting professor James H. Hunton.

Hunton resigned his teaching post at Bentley University in December of 2012. An extensive investigation by Bentley showed that not only was the data in two papers falsified. Hunton also lied about non-existent confidentiality agreements and tried to destroy evidence of his lies by unsuccessfully wiping his laptop and changing metadata on files.

The first paper Hunton was accused of faking, ironically about accounting fraud, was retracted in 2012.

Here’s the notice for “The relationship between perceived tone at the top and earnings quality”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

January 27th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Dead men tell no tales – nor respond to journal’s formatting queries

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mamasIn November 2014, Mechanics of Advanced Materials and Structures withdrew an online-first publication on the grounds that, over the previous two years, the corresponding author has not responded to questions regarding formatting.

There is, apparently, a good reason for that, although the notice for “Analysis of Effective Properties of Three-phase Electro-magneto-elastic Solids” suggests the editors of the journal are unaware of it:

Read the rest of this entry »