Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Weekend reads: Why scientists respond badly to criticism; hidden retractions; journal cancels issue

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The week at Retraction Watch featured a researcher whose ideas were stolen at least three times, a victory for Crossfit in its attempt to reveal peer reviewers, and the second delisting of a cancer journal by an index that praised it just months ago. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 20th, 2018 at 9:22 am

Posted in weekend reads

Judge orders journal to identify peer reviewers: CrossFit lawyer

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A court is reportedly telling a journal to unmask a retracted paper’s peer reviewers, part of a defamation lawsuit involving the journal’s publisher and the CrossFit exercise brand.

According to an attorney representing CrossFit, yesterday Judge Joel Wohlfeil of the San Diego Superior Court decided that the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) must turn over to CrossFit the names of peer reviewers of “Crossfit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition,” by Jan. 26. The names will be revealed under a protective order, the lawyer said, meaning CrossFit and the other defendants will see them but cannot disclose them to others.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

January 19th, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Indexing company praises cancer journal, then kicks it out

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A company that indexes journals — which, in turn, designates their impact factors — has delisted Oncotarget, a cancer journal that was recently removed from MEDLINE.

Just three months ago, on October 18, the indexing company Clarivate Analytics (formerly part of Thomson Reuters) named Oncotarget a “rising star” in the field of molecular biology and genetics.

News of the Clarivate delisting has been circulating on Chinese-language blogs, and Oncotarget acknowledged what happened on its own website:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

January 19th, 2018 at 8:11 am

Is our database missing a retraction? Tell us!

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As many readers know, we’ve been hard at work curating a comprehensive database of retractions, and are now up to more than 16,000 entries. Despite that large number — as much as triple what you’ll find in commonly used databases — we know there are notices we’re missing.

We’re doing our best to fill in the gaps, but the work will go faster with help. So if you come across a recent or previous retraction, and don’t see it in our database, let us know about it using this form. None of the fields is required, but the more information we have, the quicker we’ll be able to add the relevant details. Please note: This isn’t for papers that you think should be retracted; send us tips about those to (And to answer a question we are often asked: Yes, we plan for an API of the database, once it’s comprehensive.)

Thanks in advance!

Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post, or subscribe to our daily digest. If you find a retraction that’s not in our database, you can let us know here. For comments or feedback, email us at

Written by Alison McCook

January 18th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in RW announcements

“A painful lesson:” Authors retract paper after discovering mislabeled mouse lines

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Neuroscientists have retracted a 2016 paper examining the genetic underpinnings of a degenerative motor neuron disease, after discovering that two mouse lines had been accidentally mislabeled.

According to the retraction notice, published in December in Acta Neuropathologica Communications, mice engineered to have a specific genetic mutation were mislabeled as the normal or wild type group.

The notice cites an investigation by the University of Florida; we asked the university for a copy of the report. The university sent us a redacted document, which a spokesperson told us was a self-report from the researchers regarding the mislabeling. The spokesperson explained: Read the rest of this entry »

Journal retracts letter for missing disclosure author says he tried to submit

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An emergency medicine journal has retracted a letter to the editor, saying it didn’t include the author’s relevant commercial interest—which the author says he tried to disclose when he submitted the paper.

The author, Guy Weinberg, told Retraction Watch he had noted his conflict of interest when he submitted the letter last March, but said he did not use the journal’s disclosure form. He added that his primary concern is that the editors didn’t reach out to him to discuss the issue prior to retracting the letter.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Assessing Efficacy of Lipid in Unstable, non-LAST Overdose Patients,” published on Sept. 18 in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

January 17th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Authors who lost two papers for plagiarism will be fired from university: report

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Researchers from Nepal who had two papers retracted last year for plagiarism will face sanctions, according to a local media report.

According to coverage last month from Republica, a news outlet in Nepal, the editor of Bali Medical Journal said he will blacklist the six authors. In a follow-up article, Dipak Shrestha, associate dean of Kathmandu University in Dhulikhel, Nepal, said the university plans to fire the four doctors who work there. (We contacted the journal and the university to confirm that the researchers have been blacklisted and fired, but have not heard back.)

Here’s the retraction notice for the 2013 paper, “Dyslipidemia in Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus Patients in Western of Nepal: A Hospital Based Study:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

January 17th, 2018 at 8:00 am

Posted in nepal

CrossFit asks court to unmask peer reviewers of retracted study

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Another front has opened up in the legal battle between the CrossFit exercise brand and a competitor, spurred by a now-retracted paper about the risk of injury from the workout program. Soon, a judge will decide whether CrossFit is entitled to learn the names of the study’s peer reviewers.

CrossFit has tried and failed to identify them before. If they’re successful now, it could help establish a new way to legally breach reviewer confidentiality; two outside lawyers we consulted said they’d never before seen a court order a journal to reveal an article’s peer reviewers.

On Jan. 18, Judge Joel Wohlfeil of the Superior Court of the State of California in San Diego is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether or not the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) should be compelled to unmask the reviewers for “Crossfit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition.”

The article was published in 2013 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR), the official research publication of the NSCA, and was retracted last year. It’s referred to as the “Devor article” in the court documents, after last author Steven Devor, a former professor at The Ohio State University (OSU).

A “discovery referee” assigned to the defamation case recently ordered NSCA to provide CrossFit with the reviewers’ names, but NSCA is challenging those rulings, saying that they have the same right to protect their sources as journalists do.

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Written by Andrew P. Han

January 16th, 2018 at 11:45 am

Caught Our Notice: Doesn’t anyone do a literature review any more?

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Via Wikimedia

Titles: (1) Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696)

(2) Structure revision of aspergicin by the crystal structure of aspergicine, a co-occurring isomer produced by co-culture of two mangrove epiphytic fungi

What Caught Our Attention: Two articles by different groups of authors recently suffered from the same (fatal) flaw: A poor literature review. The article, “Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696),” claimed to have sequenced a strain already sequenced in 2004 and published in a well-cited article.  According to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, the 2004 article was cited 474 times before the now-retracted article was published. And that 2004 article appeared in a highly-cited journal, Nature Biotechnology. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet the scientist whose ideas were stolen at least three times

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Jeff Offutt (via George Mason University)

Jeff Offutt, a professor of software engineering at George Mason University, has some stories to tell. He says that when one of his students wrote his first paper, the student reused four paragraphs from another source, not knowing he couldn’t do that. And then he tells of attending a PhD thesis defense where the student presented interesting data from human research, but had no idea he needed approval from an Institutional Review Board – and neither did his advisor. And Offutt’s own ideas, he says, have been stolen by other researchers three times. Three times. (We asked him for the names of those who’d stolen them, but he declined to say.)

In a recent editorial in the Journal of Software: Testing, Verification and Reliability, Offutt argues that these examples – and all the others any researcher can provide – illustrate the need for ethics training, especially for PhD students.

Retraction Watch: You note in your editorial that you have seen your ideas published by other groups three times. Do you think you’re an outlier? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

January 15th, 2018 at 8:00 am

Posted in united states