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

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 — the paper was retracted.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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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

So-kalled research: French sociology journal retracts hoax article

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societeThe world, it seems, cannot get enough of Sokal-type hoaxes.

A French journal, Sociétés, has retracted an article allegedly penned by one Jean-Marc Tremblay but actually written by two sociologists, Manuel Quinon and Arnaud Saint-Martin, who spoofed the work of the journal’s editor, Michel Maffesoli.

As the Crooked Timber blog explains, the article, “Automobilités postmodernes: quand l’Autolib’ fait sensation à Paris,” published in the Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 12th, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Paper on liver failure in babies withdrawn for lab mix-up

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jpgnA paper on liver failure in infants has been retracted due to a lab error, though the author contends that the paper still holds a valuable message for pediatricians — one that could save lives.

To get to that, though, we had to make it through what turns out to be an unnecessarily vague retraction notice (more on that in a moment) in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition:
Read the rest of this entry »

“Positivity ratio” research now subject to an expression of concern

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An expression of concern has been issued for the second of three papers on the idea that, if you have three positive emotions for every negative one, you will be more successful in life.

Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has spent the last decade building a brand around this ratio, initially described by a mathematical equation based on fluid dynamics by mathematician Marcial Losada. You can read our coverage of the debunking of that equation, presented in a 1999 paper that has been cited nearly 1,700 times, here.

Nick Brown, co-author with Alan Sokal on the paper that discredited the Losada equation, has written a blog post on the current state of affairs. He also got in touch with us regarding the expression of concern for a 2004 article in American Behavioral Scientist that he had also questioned, “The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams: A Nonlinear Dynamic Model”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

July 29th, 2014 at 8:30 am