Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Weekend reads, part 2: Criminalizing scientific fraud; Nobel Prize folly; boosting impact factor

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booksThere were so many items to choose from this week for Weekend Reads — probably because it was Peer Review Week — that we decided to split them into two posts. Here’s part 2: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 4th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Weekend reads, part 1: Editor slams PubPeer; scientific fraud pays off

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured yet another case of fake peer review, and a court sentence for a Danish researcher found to have committed fraud. Here’s what was happening elsewhere (stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow): Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 3rd, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Publisher bans authors for apparent plagiarism

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Three authors have been banned from journals published by IGM Publication, including the Journal of Medical Science and Clinical Research.

The ban — a relatively infrequent occurrence in publishing — comes after the publisher removed a 2014 article that seems to have merely changed the title and authors of a 2013 article  from another journal.

When a tip from a reader pointed to the possibility of duplication between the two articles, Read the rest of this entry »

Author objects to retraction for not “faithfully represented” immunology figures

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The Journal of ImmunologyAll but one of the authors of a study about the immune response to H. pylori have agreed to a retraction in The Journal of Immunology, due to two of the paper’s figures not being “faithfully represented.”

Authors of the 2006 paper said they were unable to provide the original unedited scans “due to inadequate archiving dating back almost 10 years.” The authors — with the exception of the first author, Sushil Kumar Pathak, apologized for the error.

The notice, which has been appended to the pdf, reads:

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Violent songs can lead to spicy food, and other lessons we learned from corrected graphic

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A correction to a 2011 paper doesn’t change its main conclusion: Hearing song lyrics about violence — “let the bodies hit the floor,” for example — can prompt aggressive behavior, even more so than violent imagery in music videos.

The correction follows an investigation by Macquarie University that found errors in data analysis to be an “honest mistake.”

During the study — “The effect of auditory versus visual violent media exposure on aggressive behaviour: The role of song lyrics, video clips and musical tone,” published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology — the authors measured the effect of violent songs or imagery using the “hot sauce paradigm.” In this model, researchers estimate people’s level of aggression by how much hot sauce they give another person to eat. The study found that, indeed, people who are exposed to violence — particularly, lyrics —  give more hot sauce to their neighbors. It has been cited 6 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

One aspect of the paper prompted a tweet from a Dutch journalist: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

October 1st, 2015 at 2:30 pm

“Rigging of the peer-review process” kills parasite paper

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A paper on nematode parasites appears to have been infected with a nasty strain of a publishing problem known as fake peer review. By our count, the phenomenon has felled approximately 250 papers in total.

The affected review, “The important role of matrix metalloproteinases in nematode parasites,” explores a type of enzyme secreted by the parasite. Published in Helminthologia, it’s been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Unfortunately, the retraction note doesn’t give us too many details about how the peer review process was manipulated:

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Danish neuroscientist sentenced by court for lying about faked experiments

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court caseIn a rare development, neuroscientist Milena Penkowa has been sentenced by a Danish court for faking data.

The ruling, from the Copenhagen City Court, resulted from Penkowa’s publication of her 2003 thesis describing experiments that she never carried out. The court “placed weight” on the fact that she didn’t just commit fraud, but “systematically supplied false information” to avoid being caught, according to the court’s notice.

The sentence is nine months of “conditional imprisonment,” according to our translation; The University Posta newspaper affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, calls it a “nine month suspended sentence with a two years probation.”

Here’s the full summary of the new ruling, from the Copenhagen City Court (translated from Danish by One Hour Translation):

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Written by Shannon Palus

October 1st, 2015 at 9:10 am

Predatory journals published 400,000 papers in 2014: Report

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BMC medicineThe number of so-called “predatory” open-access journals that allegedly sidestep publishing standards in order to make money off of article processing charges has dramatically expanded in recent years, and three-quarters of authors are based in either Asia or Africa, according to a new analysis from BMC Medicine.*

The number of articles published by predatory journals spiked from 53,000 in 2010 to around 420,000 in 2014, appearing in 8,000 active journals. By comparison, some 1.4-2 million papers are indexed in PubMed and similar vetted databases every year.

These types of papers have become a major problem, according to Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver who studies the phenomenon: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 30th, 2015 at 8:00 pm

NIH rescinds grant to Texas eye researcher

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banner-nihlogoA scientist who uses imaging to study the eye and brain has lost a major grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In June, the NIH revised the award for Timothy Duong at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio from $332,500 per year to $0, and included this statement: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 30th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Investigation finds “careless data workup” in alcoholism drug paper

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An investigation at Karolinska Institute has led to the retraction of a paper about drug treatments for alcoholics, after concluding the article contains a “very careless data workup.”

The paper, “Memantine enhances the inhibitory effects of naltrexone on ethanol consumption,” found that the drug memantine (normally used to treat Alzheimer’s) enhances the effects of naltrexone in rats, which blocks the high of alcohol.  It was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology and has been cited 10 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

However, its conclusion is now “unreliable,” according to the retraction note:

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