Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“Not faithful” figures kill apoptosis paper

with 2 comments

iaicoverA paper on apoptosis in mice has been retracted by Infection and Immunity after a reader tipped them off that several figures were “not faithful representations of the original data.”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

with one comment

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

without comments

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

with 5 comments

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

without comments

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

without comments

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

with one comment

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:

We, the Editor and Publisher of International Journal of Food Properties are retracting the following article: Nuray Akbudak, Bulent Akbudak “Effect of Vacuum, Microwave, and Convective Drying on Selected Parsley Quality,” International Journal of Food Properties 16.1 (2013): 205-215, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10942912.2010.535400

We are now cognizant that the authors conducted the research with a third party and knowingly published the article without the knowledge and permission of the third party.

The article has received only 5 citations, per Google Scholar. We emailed the authors and the journal and will update this post if we learn more.

Like Retraction Watch? Consider supporting our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, and sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post.

Genetics journal isn’t down with O.P.D. – stealing other people’s data

with one comment

GMR logoGenetics and Molecular Research, an online-only journal, has retracted two articles about gastric cancer by a group of Iranian researchers who appear to have put their own names on other people’s data.

Both articles were published in 2014. One was titled “Absolute quantification of free tumor cells in the peripheral blood of gastric cancer patients;” the other, “ZNF797 plays an oncogenic role in gastric cancer.” The list of authors on the two papers isn’t identical, but both papers share a few in common, including the same two last authors: F. Ghasemvand and S. Heidari-Keshel.

It turns out, Saeed Heidari-keshel wasn’t down with other people’s data, and alerted the journal to the problem.

Here’s more from the retraction notice for the first article, which was found to be “substantially equal” to another paper: Read the rest of this entry »

How should journals handle multiple allegations from the same person?

with 10 comments

copeIt’s not uncommon for us to hear from overworked journal editors that they are faced with a deluge of allegations about a particular author’s papers. And while we think it’s the responsibility of said editors to make sure their publications are as transparent as possible, we’re also sympathetic to the demands that investigations can take.

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) offers suggestions for dealing with these issues in a new discussion document. As COPE explains: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 24th, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Retraction after education researcher tries to repeat a grade–er, paper

without comments

AEHEAn education journal has yanked a 2014 article by a pair of scholars in Asia after discovering one had already published a “substantially similar” article.

The article, “Dynamic nature of washback on individual learners: the role of possible selves” in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, is about how taking a major English test influenced learning in Chinese undergraduate students. Author Ying Zhan is listed at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, in mainland China; Zhi Hong Wan, at the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

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