Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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A Serbian Sokal? Authors spoof pub with Ron Jeremy and Michael Jackson references

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What do porn star Ron Jeremy, Max Weber and Michael Jackson have in common?  Very little — except the three names appear in the list of references for a recent hoax paper by a group of Serbian academics who, fed up with the poor state of their country’s research output, scammed a Romanian magazine by publishing a completely fabricated article.

The paper is replete with transparent gimmicks — obvious, that is, had anyone at the publication been paying attention — including a reference to the scholarship of Jackson, Weber, Jeremy and citations to new studies by Bernoulli and Laplace, both dead more than 180 years (Weber died in 1920). They also throw in references to the “Journal of Modern Illogical Studies,” which to the best of our knowledge does not and never has existed (although perhaps it should), and to a researcher named, dubiously, “A.S. Hole.” And, we hasten to add, the noted Kazakh polymath B. Sagdiyev, otherwise known as Borat. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

September 23rd, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Posted in romania,serbia

Publisher retracts “conceptual penis” hoax article

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File this under “not a surprise.” After the authors of a paper entitled “The conceptual penis as a social construct” confessed it was a hoax immediately after publication, the publisher has retracted it.

The notice is sparse:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. For more information please see the statement on this article.

In that statement, which we covered last week, the publisher said published the paper after choosing reviewers whose “expertise did not fully align with this subject matter.”

We asked co-author James Lindsay what he thought about that explanation:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

June 2nd, 2017 at 11:14 am

Publisher blames bad choice of reviewer for publication of hoax paper on penis as “social construct” 

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Less than a week after publishing a much-discussed hoax paper, a scholarly publisher has acknowledged that it had chosen reviewers for the paper whose “expertise did not fully align with this subject matter.”

The subject matter: that the penis should not be considered an anatomical organ, but more as a concept – “a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” Upon publication, the authors immediately admitted the paper was a prank, arguing that its publication illustrates a lack of intellectual and scientific rigor in some social sciences, especially gender studies. But others have questioned whether it really demonstrates that at all.

In response to the revelation of the hoax, Taylor & Francis associate editorial director Emma Greenword published a statement about the process that led to this entanglement: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Emily Willingham

May 24th, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Weekend reads: A hoax involving a “conceptual penis;” fake reagents; plagiarism irony

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The week at Retraction Watch featured a survey of researchers in China with an alarming result, and asked whether philosophy has a plagiarism problem. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 20th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Surprise! Paper retracted after author tells journal it’s a “pile of dung”

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journal-of-clinical-research-bioethics-logoThis summer, Ottawa Citizen reporter Tom Spears was sitting by a lake on vacation when he opened a spam email from a publisher. Amused to see the sender was a journal focused on bioethics, he got an idea.

I thought, what if I just throw something outrageous at them?

The situation should sound familiar to readers who follow such “sting” operations: Spears submitted a fake paper to the so-called “predatory” journal, it was accepted one month later with no changes, and published.

But after Spears submitted a comment on the paper saying it was “a steaming pile of dung from start to meaningless finish” (which the journal never posted), wrote an article about it (picked up by other outlets, including The Huffington Post Canada) — surprise, surprise! — the paper was retracted.

Most authors don’t celebrate retractions. But Spears told us he felt “sheer triumph:”  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

November 30th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Sting operation forces predatory publisher to pull paper

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Medical Archives

Sometimes, the best way to expose a problem with the publishing process is to put it to a test — perhaps by performing a Sokal-style hoax, or submitting a paper with obvious flaws.

In 2014, that’s just what a researcher in Kosovo did. Suspicious that a journal wasn’t doing a thorough job of vetting submissions, she decided to send them an article of hers that had already appeared in another journal. Her thinking was that any journal with an honest and thorough peer review process would hesitate to publish the work. But this journal didn’t — at least at first. Though they retracted the paper this summer, it took a few twists and turns to get there.

The researcher wasn’t the only one wary of the journal — it’s on Jeffrey Beall’s list of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers. Appropriately, Beall recounts the story of her sting operation on his blog. Here’s how it all went down:

Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: PubPeer = vigilantes?; why journals cost what they do; who publishes most

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured a retraction from Nature, and a discussion of what it means to be an author on a paper with thousands of them. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 16th, 2016 at 9:51 am

Posted in weekend reads

Philosophy journal spoofed, retracts hoax article

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A philosophy journal that focuses on the teachings of philosopher Alain Badiou has apparently fallen victim to yet another Sokal hoax, and has retracted a fake article submitted by authors trying to expose the publication’s weaknesses.

The paper, “Ontology, Neutrality and the Strive for (non-)Being-Queer,” attributed to Benedetta Tripodi of the Universitatea Alexandru Ioan Cuza in Romania, is apparently the work of two academics, who submitted the absurd article to Badiou Studies to expose its lack of rigor in accepting papers.

Just a quick look at some of the text of the fake paper exposes its peculiarities. Here are the first few lines of the abstract: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

April 7th, 2016 at 9:45 am

Posted in faked data,france

Death camp dog satire retracted when German journal wasn’t in on joke

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Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.46.54 PMTotalitarianism and Democracy has removed a paper claiming that German Shepherds belonging to guards at the Berlin Wall descended from dogs used at concentration camps, after learning that the paper was a work of satire, The Guardian reports.

The paper, and its author, are the creation of the anonymous group “Christiane Schulte and friends.”

This isn’t the first hoax we’ve seen in publishing: Don’t forget journalist John Bohannon, who submitted hundreds of fake papers to open access journals, and more recently conjured up a study that showed chocolate helps you lose weight. (And, of course, a paper in a Romanian magazine that listed porn star Ron Jeremy and Michael Jackson among its references.) Like many other hoaxers, the group say in a statement their purpose was to shine light on problems in academic publishing.

The latest victim: a Dresden-based journal, The Guardian explains:

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Romanian law shortens jail time for prisoners who write books. (They may ax it.)

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600px-Flag_of_Romania.svgRomanian officials are taking a stand against a long-standing oddity in the law that entitles prisoners to 30 days off their jail sentence for every piece of academic writing they author.

The crackdown is occurring after a surge in jail literature in the last two years— approximately 200 inmates have authored around 400 scientific works — according to figures recently released by the Romanian Ministry of Justice.

Although the law has existed since 1969, only four such scientific papers were published until 2010 (one each year from 2007). The numbers have, however, since escalated to Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

January 12th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Posted in plagiarism,romania