Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Publisher discovers 50 manuscripts involving fake peer reviewers

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bmc logoBioMed Central has uncovered about fifty manuscripts in their editorial system that involved fake peer reviewers, Retraction Watch has learned.

Most of the cases were not published because they were discovered by a manuscript editor on a final pre-publication check. The five or so that have been published will go through some sort of re-review, which may result in expressions of concern or retraction.

The narrative seems similar to that in the growing number of cases of peer review manipulation we’ve seen recently. What tipped off the editor was minor spelling mistakes in the reviewers’ names, and odd non-institutional email addresses that were often changed once reviews had been submitted, in an apparent attempt to cover the fakers’ tracks. Those “reviewers” had turned in reports across several journals, spanning several subjects.

It would seem that a third party, perhaps marketing services helping authors have papers accepted, was involved.

The publisher has let all of its external editors in chief know about the situation. To prevent it from happening again, authors will not be able to recommend reviewers for their papers. Here’s a message from BioMed Central senior managing editor Diana Marshall that went out to a number of journal editors earlier today: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 25th, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Posted in BioMed Central

Controversial editor and patient safety expert had undisclosed COIs in 9 of 10 papers

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Charles Denham

A new editorial in the Journal of Patient Safety accuses former editor and patient safety expert Charles Denham of having undeclared conflicts of interest in nine out of ten articles he published in the journal.

Denham was at the center of massive controversy earlier this year, when the government accused him of taking more than $11 million in kickbacks from medical supply company CareFusion. Supposedly, he took the money to influence the National Quality Forum, where Denham was a co-chair of safe practices, to endorce ChloraPrep, a CareFusion antiseptic.

Cheryl Clark, at HealthLeaders Media, was first to report on the new editorial. Here’s what the editors wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 25th, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Nanoparticle paper earns retraction for lack of reproducibility

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issue 1 - RSC Advances_2012.inddA nanoparticle article published earlier this year has been retracted by RSC Advances for lack of reproducibility, although we haven’t been able to get more details about what happened.

Here’s the notice for “Sonochemical synthesis of poly(methyl methacrylate) core–surfactin shell nanoparticles for recyclable removal of heavy metal ions and its cytotoxicity” (freely available but requires sign-in): Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 25th, 2014 at 9:30 am

“I’m so done with it”: Conservationist speaks out against sexism in science

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Amanda Stanley

Amanda Stanley

Last week, we wrote about conservationist Stuart Pimm receiving criticism for casual sexism in a recent book review.

The journal did not retract the review, but it released an editor’s note condemning the language Pimm used, including quoting a movie scene in which a man told a woman “I don’t take whores in taxis.” Some readers have questioned whether this is really an instance of sexism, including here in the Retraction Watch comments.

So we reached out to Amanda Stanley, a conservation scientist who was so troubled by the book review that she wrote a letter to the editor, to be published soon in Biological Conservation. Here’s her powerful explanation of where this fits in the overall conversation about sexism in science:
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 24th, 2014 at 11:30 am

Are lawyers ruining science?

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labtimes 6-14Regular Retraction Watch readers may have noticed that legal issues seem to be popping up more often in the cases we cover. There has been a lawsuit filed against PubPeer commenters, for example, and Nature last month blamed lawyers for delayed and opaque retraction notices.

It was those cases and others that prompted us to write our most recent column for Lab Times with a title mirrored in the headline of this post. As we note in our column, there are a lot of great lawyers out there, some of whom — for example, those at WordPress — have helped us

fight the good fight. We also believe strongly in the ability of prosecutors to punish – and, ideally, deter – scientific misconduct, particularly in cases involving fraud using taxpayer dollars.

Still, as we write: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 24th, 2014 at 9:30 am

Posted in RW announcements

Weekend reads: Novartis fires scientist for faking data; journal accepts F-bomb-laden spam paper

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch began with a case of a South Korean engineer who had to retract ten studies at once. Here’s what was happening elsewhere, along with an update on a story we covered a few days ago:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 22nd, 2014 at 9:48 am

Posted in weekend reads

‘‘I don’t take whores in taxis”: Casual sexism in scientific journal leads to editor’s note

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Author Stuart Pimm.

Author Stuart Pimm

The Elsevier journal Biological Conservation has put out an apology, but not a retraction, after outcry over a bizarre, misogynistic non sequitur in a book review by Duke conservation biologist Stuart Pimm.

Here’s the introduction to Pimm’s review of Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth, which went online in October ahead of its December print publication: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 21st, 2014 at 11:40 am

Can you hear me now? Neuroscience paper sunk by audio stimulus error

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j neurophysHave you ever noticed that hearing something read aloud as you follow along helps you remember what you’re reading better?

Two bioengineers at Trinity College Dublin, Michael Crosse and Edmund Lalor, decided to investigate the underlying reason for the phenomenon. Unfortunately, after they published their findings in the Journal of Neurophysiology earlier this year, they tried to recreate the experiments and discovered that their equipment didn’t line up the audio and visual stimuli properly.

They did the right thing and contacted the journal for a retraction. Here’s the notice for “The cortical representation of the speech envelope is earlier for audiovisual speech than audio speech”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 21st, 2014 at 9:30 am

Updated: Former Vanderbilt scientist faked nearly 70 images, will retract 6 papers: ORI

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ori logoA former Vanderbilt University biomedical engineer committed fraud on a massive scale, according to a new Office of Research Integrity (ORI) report.

Igor Dzhura is banned from receiving federal funding for three years, and is retracting six papers, which have been cited more than 500 times. Since leaving Vanderbilt, he has worked at SUNY Upstate Medical University, and now works at Novartis.

According to the ORI, Dzhura was a busy boy at Vanderbilt, faking images and drastically inflating the number of experiments he conducted by duplicating computer files and saving them in nested folders. The total body count from his work includes: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 20th, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Posted in ori investigations

Journal retracts paper when authors refuse to pay page charges

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gm cropsTaylor & Francis has withdrawn a paper published online after a disagreement with the authors about page charges.

Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva, Judit Dobránszki, Jean Carlos Cardoso, and Songjun Zeng had submitted the manuscript, “Genetic transformation of Dendrobium,” to GM Crops and Food: Biotechnology in Agriculture and the Food Chain earlier this year. It was accepted on July 29, and posted online on October 30.

Taylor and Francis — who recently took over the journal from Landes Biosciences — had requested $1,000 in page charges, and $340 in color charges. But Teixeira da Silva — who has been made persona non grata by an Elsevier journal following “personal attacks and threats,” and had a paper retracted by a Springer journal after he demanded the editors’ resignations — insisted in an email to the publisher that Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 20th, 2014 at 11:35 am

Posted in taylor and francis