By some measures, 2016 was a somewhat rocky year for PLOS ONE — it issued some high-profile retractions, and published fewer papers, in part due to a decline in submissions. Still, the first multidisciplinary open-access journal — which accepts all submissions that meet technical and ethical standards, regardless of the results — publishes more than 20,000 papers per year, juggling thousands of editors and reviewers. So what does the future hold for this “large and complex” journal? We spoke with its new editor, Joerg Heber, who assumed the role in November.
Retraction Watch: What are your primary goals for the journal, and how do you plan to achieve them?
Consider this: Fragments of a PLOS ONE paper overlap with pieces of other publications. The authors used them without credit and without quotation marks.
This sounds an awful lot like plagiarism — using PLOS‘s own standards, even. But the journal isn’t calling it plagiarism. They’ve labeled this an instance of “text overlap,” a spokesperson told us, based on the amount of material that the paper shares with others.
The last author — Carlo Croce, who has two retractions under his belt — denies that he plagiarized, and says that his university has cleared him of a plagiarism charge from an anonymous whistleblower.
PLOS fixed this case last year with a correction notice — not the common course of action for a case of confirmed plagiarism. Take a look at the notice for yourself:
When a high-profile psychologist reviewed her newly published paper in PLOS ONE, she was dismayed to notice multiple formatting errors.
So she contacted the journal to find out what had gone wrong, especially since checking the page proofs would have spotted the problem immediately. The authors were surprised to learn that it was against the journal’s policy to provide authors page proofs. Could this partly explain PLOS ONE’s high rate of corrections?
Issuing frequent corrections isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it can indicate that the journal is responsive to fixing published articles. But the rate of corrections at PLOS ONE is notably high. Read the rest of this entry »
According to the first author of the paper — Hafsa Athar Jafree from the University of Karachi in Pakistan — none of the authors agreed to the EOC notice. She told us the paper contains a few typos, which may have made it unclear to some readers, but said the authors had provided all of the necessary information to “justify the presented algorithms.”
A PLOS ONE spokesperson told us the journal decided to issue an EOC after consulting the editorial board, which raised significant concerns about the study.
In 2014, the journal issued a correction to the study to fix several equations in the original article.
According to the notice, the authors’ institution — the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in New Delhi, India — recommended the journal retract the paper.
Authors have retracted a pair of PLOS ONE papers after an investigation suggested the articles might contain some fiction.
In the papers, the authors describe collecting and analyzing the DNA of mosquitoes to look for changes following the introduction of bed nets treated with insecticides to combat malaria. However, an investigation by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in France could not confirm some of the experiments ever took place.
Here’s the retraction notice for “How the Malaria Vector Anopheles gambiae Adapts to the Use of Insecticide-Treated Nets by African Populations,” which appears at the top of the paper:
PLOS ONE has republished data that were abruptly removed two weeks ago after the authors expressed concerns they did not have permission to release them.
The dataset — de-identified information from people with chronic fatigue syndrome — was removed May 18, noting it was “published in error.” But this week, the journal republished the dataset, saying the authors’ university had been consulted, and the dataset could be released.
This paper has drawn scrutiny for its similarities to a controversial “PACE” trial of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Here’s the second correction notice for “Therapist Effects and the Impact of Early Therapeutic Alliance on Symptomatic Outcome in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” released June 1:
According to the retraction notice released by the journal last week, the paper contains “extensive verbatim use of text from other sources.”
How did this make it past the editors? The journal published the paper in 2012 — before it began screening papers for plagiarism, according to a spokesperson.
First author of the paper, Chuan Li, confirmed that he was responsible, and told Retraction Watch he apologizes for his “low-level mistake.”
Zhongfu Ni, last author of the paper from the China Agricultural University in Beijing, told us that all the co-authors agree with the retraction.
PLOS ONE has retracted a paper published one month ago after readers began criticizing it for mentioning “the Creator.”
The article “Biomechanical Characteristics of Hand Coordination in Grasping Activities of Daily Living” now includes a reader comment from PLOS Staff, noting: Read the rest of this entry »