Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Weekend reads: What do PhDs earn?; university refuses to release data; collaboration’s dark side

with 22 comments

booksThis week at Retraction Watch featured a look at the huge problem of misidentified cell lines, a check-in with a company that retracted a paper as it was about to go public, and Diederik Stapel’s 58th retraction. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:

Retractions Outside of The Scientific Literature:

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Written by Ivan Oransky

December 12th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

  • Brandon Stell December 12, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Boris Barbour and Gabor Brasnjo did most of the heavy lifting for our debate with Philip Moriarty. They did a great job and deserve the credit, not me.

  • Marco December 12, 2015 at 11:29 am

    There’s an error in the link about Patrick Harran’s election into AAAS reported in the Daily Bruin.

    • Ivan Oransky December 12, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Fixed, thanks.

  • Sasha December 12, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Delighted to see you bringing attention to the refusal of the authors of the £5 million, taxpayer-funded PACE trial of exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome to hand over their data to Professor James Coyne.

    Professor Coyne requested the data of one of PACE’s papers that was published in PLOS One. He cited PLOS One’s requirement that authors who submit papers to the journal agree to share their data.

    The PACE authors bizarrely treated this as a request under the Freedom of Information Act rather than under PLOS One’s rules, made him wait the maximum 20 working days for no good reason, and then refused his request as “vexatious”.

    Patients, who have long criticised the appallingly bad science in PACE, are hoping that PLOS One will be the first scientific institution to stand up to the PACE authors and will enforce their data-sharing policy on pain of retraction of the paper.

    Patients want good science: and they want bad science exposed. The PACE authors are dragging their own reputations through the dirt, that of their universities, and that of this £5 million trial, in their insistence on keeping the data from independent researchers.

  • Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva December 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Some may find my most recent papers published this week of interest.

    Teixeira da Silva, J.A. (2015) What’s not being discussed, or considered, in science publishing? The Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 16(2): 130-132.
    DOI: 10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.928

    Teixeira da Silva, J.A., Dobránszki, J. (2015) The role of the anonymous voice in post-publication peer review versus traditional peer review. KOME 3(2): 90-94.
    DOI: 10.17646/KOME.2015.27

  • PR December 12, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Please beware of what you wish for: peer review is like democracy – a flawed and sometimes ridiculous system that is much better than the alternatives

  • PJTV December 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Sacha noted: “Professor Coyne requested the data of one of PACE’s papers that was published in PLOS One. He cited PLOS One’s requirement that authors who submit papers to the journal agree to share their data. ” That being true, the obvious action of the authors or PLOS editors is to retract their paper in PLOS, because it violates the journal’s requirements. It is an interesting situation.

  • Miguel Roig December 12, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I don’t know about a retraction at this time, but perhaps PLOS editors are considering issuing an expression of concern. They have done so in at least one occasion in the recent past for an instance in which authors failed to share a strain of bacteria.

    The PLOS ONE Editors (2014) Expression of Concern: Bacillus pumilus Reveals a Remarkably High Resistance to Hydrogen Peroxide Provoked Oxidative Stress. PLoS ONE 9(7): 3100716. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100716

  • John M December 12, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Reading the “vexatious” claim by the university for a request to release data reminds me of Yogi Berra’s deja vu all over again.

    The fact that large organizations (including publishers) want to be secretive and protect their own, even when it involves disregarding their own policies, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

    It’s what they do.

  • Klaas van Dijk December 13, 2015 at 3:01 am

    See for a formal request to PLOS ONE to issue an Expression of Concern. I also propose in this request to retract the paper if Professor Coyne has not received full access to all raw research data within one month.

  • Lila Guterman December 13, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Oh wow, I was reporting 12 years ago on the mess that U.S. economic sanctions created for scientific publishing. Amazing that OFAC is still being called on for clarification. Hopefully it’s now clearer!

  • Samuel Furse December 14, 2015 at 2:39 am

    I don’t want to be picky, but isn’t the article about the Fake Prize in Flemish rather than Dutch?

    • Sylvain Bernès December 14, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Maybe. However, the wikipedia states [1]:
      “Linguistically and formally, Flemish is not and does not refer to a current language or dialect but refers to the region, culture and people of (West) Belgium or Flanders. Flemish people speak (Belgian) Dutch in Flanders, the Flemish part of Belgium.”
      From what I understand, the distance between Flemish and (Netherlands) Dutch is similar to that between French spoken in France and Belgium. readily detects the apache article as being in Dutch.


      • Samuel Furse December 14, 2015 at 9:40 am

        Well, if wikipedia says it…

        FYI google translate doesn’t have Flemish listed, and Dutch is the nearest thing. The two differ by about 10k words that are in common use.

  • John Hutchinson December 14, 2015 at 4:28 am

    The link to, labelled as “someone else who submitted a related request data” in the second item, persistently generates a “Can’t find the requested web page” response from the NCBI website.

    • Ivan Oransky December 14, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Thanks for flagging that, the URL shortener appears to have stopped working. Fixed, along with the missing “for.”

  • Anonymous December 14, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    A Tweet today by Elisabeth Bik adds an excellent reason for the need for anonymity in post-publication peer review:
    “I enjoy anonymous peer review or posting on @PubPeer because those are rare occasions that I feel “equal” to men.”

    • Peer December 15, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      But why in post-publication peer review only but not in the first peer review for example, or even for an anonymous manuscript submission to avoid any bias?
      The peer review is getting sick, so anonymous submission and anonymous peer-review may be a good remedy to reduce its damages.
      A post peer review would transform the publication to vicious cycle or a continuous, endless quarrels => time waste.

  • Kenrod December 15, 2015 at 6:33 am

    A retraction may be brewing re. Harran’s AAAS Fellow election –

  • Kenrod December 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Not a retraction, but the AAAS “will not move forward” with the nomination of Patrick Harran as an AAAS Fellow.

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