Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Weekend reads: Open data’s downsides; do journals serve a purpose?; fraud allegations down in China

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured news that a religion journal wouldn’t be retracting a paper despite evidence of forgery in the evidence it relied on, and also news that we’re hiring. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 25th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Join our team: Retraction Watch needs a part-time editor

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RW logoWe’re so inundated with story ideas and projects, we need some extra help! Specifically, we’re looking for a part-time editor who can be available during specific hours when we need an extra pair of hands.

During that time, you would review tips and write up breaking stories if they arise, as well as edit guest posts and other stories we couldn’t get to during the day. We’re specifically looking for someone who can be available for a fixed block of time, for a total of 12 hours per week.

The specific hours are Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

June 24th, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Posted in RW announcements

Trump vs. trump: Does the candidate affect the use of trump cards in Bridge?

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Jonathan Falk

Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelman

Did that headline make sense? It isn’t really supposed to – it’s a sum-up of a recent satirical paper by Columbia statistician Andrew Gelman and Jonathan Falk of NERA Economic Consulting, entitled “NO TRUMP!: A statistical exercise in priming.” The paper – which they are presenting today during the International Conference on Machine Learning in New York City – estimates the effect of the Donald Trump candidacy on the use of no wild cards (known as trump cards) in the game of bridge. But, as they told us in an interview, the paper is about more than just that.

Retraction Watch: You have a remarkable hypothesis: “Many studies have demonstrated that people can be unconsciously goaded into different behavior through subtle psychological priming. We investigate the effect of the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency on the behavior of the top level of American bridge players.” Can you briefly explain your methodology, results and conclusions?  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

June 24th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Do publishers add value? Maybe little, suggests preprint study of preprints

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Academic publishers argue they add value to manuscripts by coordinating the peer-review process and editing manuscripts — but a new preliminary study suggests otherwise.

The study — which is yet to be peer reviewed — found that papers published in traditional journals don’t change much from their preprint versions, suggesting publishers aren’t having as much of an influence as they claim. However, two experts who reviewed the paper for us said they have some doubts about the methods, as it uses “crude” metrics to compare preprints to final manuscripts, and some preprints get updated over time to include changes from peer-reviewers and the journal.

The paper, posted recently on ArXiv, compared the text in over 12,000 preprint papers published on ArXiv from February 2015 to their corresponding papers published in journals after peer review.

The authors report in their paper, “Comparing published scientific journal articles to their pre-print versions:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

June 24th, 2016 at 8:30 am

Engineering journal pulls two papers for “compromised” peer review

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The Open Mechanical Engineering Journal

An engineering journal has retracted two papers for faked or rigged peer review, but authors of one of the papers are objecting to the retraction. 

The first author of that paper told us he and his co-authors “absolutely disagree” with the retraction, and are prepared to use “legal means” to safeguard their “rights and interests.” He added: 

…my paper was published by normal ways, I don’t know why the peer review process was compromised and what the journal found in its investigation.

Here’s the retraction notice, which is similar for both papers: Read the rest of this entry »

Plagiarism, plagiarism, plagiarism: Five recent cases

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RW logoThere’s so much publishing news to report, we don’t always get to cover every retraction when it appears. To get the word out more quickly, sometimes we publish a group of papers pulled for similar reasons, such as duplications. Below, we present five recent cases of plagiarism, such as using text or figures that the authors didn’t originally write.

We’ve added the date of retraction where we could find it:
Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract PNAS paper suggesting silk stabilizes vaccines

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PNASA PNAS paper that caught the media’s attention for suggesting that adding silk could stabilize vaccines and antibiotics has been pulled after the authors realized there were significant errors in the data analysis. 

According to the notice, the authors agreed to retract the 2012 paper; however, the corresponding author told us the authors did not think a retraction was required as, according to him, the conclusions remained valid.

The paper presented a solution to the long-standing problem that sensitive biological compounds such as vaccines and antibiotics begin to lose their effectiveness outside the recommended temperature range, and naturally biodegrade over time. The degradation process cannot be reversed, and may even speed up during transport or storage under less ideal temperatures.

Here’s the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors pull Nature paper about DEET and flies

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Nature CoverAuthors have retracted a Nature paper which identified neurons that render flies sensitive to a potent insect repellent, after losing confidence in the findings. The first author, however, said she does not agree with the retraction, noting that she continues to believe the data are correct.

According to the notice, the remaining authors say they no longer support the claim that certain neurons in the antennae of fruit flies are repelled by DEET, the active ingredient in many insect repellents. The last author told us some of the paper’s results are not in doubt; nevertheless, he added, the paper would not have been published in Nature without the key conclusion, so he and most of his co-authors have pulled the paper in its entirety.

Alongside the retraction, the journal has also published a Brief Communications Arising article by scientists who were unable to reproduce the paper’s findings.

Here’s the retraction notice, published today:
Read the rest of this entry »

JAMA: No plan to pull elephant-cancer risk paper after PETA protest

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JAMAJAMA has decided not to retract an article about cancer risk in elephants after receiving a request to do so from an animal rights group.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently protested the 2015 paper, which found that higher levels of a tumor suppressor gene could explain why elephants have a lower risk of cancer. According to PETA, the paper contained inaccurate information that could be used to justify inhumane treatment of elephants. At the time, the journal told us it considers all calls for retraction.

In an email sent to a representative of PETA over the weekend, Howard Bauchner, Editor in Chief at JAMA and The JAMA Network, wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

June 22nd, 2016 at 10:15 am

Two journals retracting papers from University of Malaya featuring widely criticized figures

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The image that excited twitter: Figure 6 from the Scientific Reports paper

The image that excited Twitter

One journal has retracted a paper containing images that recently raised suspicions of obvious duplications, and another journal is planning to do the same.

Scientists first leveled accusations against the newly retracted paper in Scientific Reports, along with two others by the same researchers, earlier this month on Twitter. One other journal — PeerJ — has announced that it plans to retract one of the questioned papers, as well. The third paper, in Frontiers in Pharmacology, bears an expression of concern.

It was unusually quick action on the part of the journals, as well as the authors’ host institution, the University of Malaya, which announced last week the authors had manipulated figures in all three papers, along with one other.

Here’s today’s retraction notice from Scientific Reports for “Novel piperazine core compound induces death in human liver cancer cells: possible pharmacological properties:”

Read the rest of this entry »