Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Author of controversial Science fish-microplastics paper committed “intentional” misconduct, says Uppsala

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An investigation at Uppsala University has found the authors of a retracted Science paper — which explored the threat of human pollution on fish — guilty of misconduct.  

The decision, published yesterday, states that both authorsPeter Eklöv and Oona Lönnstedt“violated the regulations on ethical approval for animal experimentation,” and Lönnstedt, the paper’s corresponding author, “fabricated the results.”

Eklöv told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

December 7th, 2017 at 10:55 am

Updated: Science fish-microplastics paper retracted

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Despite continuing to vigorously defend their work, the authors of a controversial paper about the effects of human pollution asked Science to retract the paper last week.

According to a release from Uppsala University issued today, authors Peter Eklöv and Oona Lönnstedt submitted their request to Science last week, noting they wanted to withdraw the paper “as long as a suspicion of misconduct remains.”

The release — which echoes a statement that was also provided to Nature — notes:

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“Remarkable” it was ever accepted, says report: Science to retract study on fish and microplastics

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Science is retracting a paper about how human pollution is harming fish, after months of questions about the validity of the data.

The move, first reported by the news side of Science on Friday, follows a new report from a review board in Sweden that concluded the authors were guilty of “scientific dishonesty,” and the paper should be “recalled.”

The report had some strong words for the journal and the university that conducted a preliminary investigation:

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Swedish gov’t rescinds grant for fish-plastics researcher

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Peter Eklöv

The Swedish government has terminated a four-year grant to a researcher at Uppsala University recently found guilty of misconduct — and, in a first, has also banned him from applying for grants for another two years.

A representative of the Swedish Research Council told us that it is “very rare” for the body to rescind a grant — and it has never simultaneously rescinded a grant and temporarily banned the researcher from applying for funding.

The researcher is Peter Eklöv, who co-authored a now-retracted Science paper which suggested fish larvae prefer to eat tiny particles of plastic over their own natural prey.  As soon as it appeared in 2016, the paper earned both media attention  and controversy, as critics alleged it contained missing data and used a problematic methodology. Late last year, the Swedish Research Council announced that Eklöv  was among more than 300 recipients of new grants; his totalled 3,300,000 ($355,440 USD).

At the time, a representative of the Swedish Research Council told us it knew Eklöv was under investigation by Uppsala, and was awaiting that decision.

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Written by Alison McCook

January 9th, 2018 at 11:05 am

Posted in sweden retractions

Weekend reads: Weaponized plagiarism; bias against low-income country research; the uncited papers

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The week at Retraction Watch featured commentary on yet another paper claiming a link between autism and vaccines, a welcome useful retraction notice, and a rewrite of a paper that influenced car seat guidelines. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 16th, 2017 at 10:16 am

Posted in weekend reads

Weekend reads: Peer review “ineffective and unworthy;” science a “profiteering enterprise;” Beall’s boss speaks

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Written by Ivan Oransky

December 9th, 2017 at 9:17 am

Posted in weekend reads

Caught Our Notice: Author of controversial retracted paper earns Swedish gov’t grant

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Last week, a Swedish government funding agency announced 325 recipients of grants in Natural and Engineering Sciences. We don’t normally write about grant announcements, but we’re flagging this one because one recipient may be familiar to our readers.

It is Peter Eklöv of Uppsala University, a co-author of a now-retracted Science paper about the potential dangers of microplastics to fish.

Eklov will receive 800,000 ($94,784 USD) each year in 2018-2020 and 900,000 ($106,632 USD) in 2021, totalling 3,300,000 ($355,440 USD). The granting agency is the Swedish Research Council, controlled by Sweden’s Ministry of Education and Research.

Eklöv‘s retracted paper — which he co-authored with Oona Lönnstedt — got significant media coverage when it first appeared in June 2016, as it suggested fish larvae prefer to eat microplastic over their own natural prey. But soon after it was published, a group of researchers raised several allegations, including that the paper contained missing data and used a problematic methodology Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

November 8th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Weekend reads: The risks of spotlighting reproducibility; harassment = scientific misconduct?; trouble with funnel plots

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The week at Retraction Watch featured the case of a peer review nightmare, and a story about harassment by a would-be scientific critic. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 25th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in weekend reads

Stolen data prompts Science to flag debated study of fish and plastics

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scienceIn August, Science told us it was considering adding an Expression of Concern to a high-profile paper about how human pollution is harming fish — and yesterday, the journal did it.

The move comes after a group of researchers alleged the paper contains missing data, and the authors followed a problematic methodology. In September, however, the co-authors’ institution, Uppsala University in Sweden, concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to launch a misconduct investigation.

The notice from Science stems from the theft of a computer carrying some of the paper’s raw data, making it impossible to reproduce some of its findings: Read the rest of this entry »