Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Third party company botched student’s doctoral work, says biologist

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Cellular Physiology and BiochemistryA PhD student who was supposed to complete part of an experiment passed the job on to a third party company, which in turn provided figures that were plagiarized and fabricated. That’s according to the corresponding author of the paper, which has now been retracted.

Hong Ren, affiliated with Xi’an Jiao Tong University in China, told us that he decided to delay the student’s graduation after he discovered that the student had passed off the work.

It’s not at all obvious that a third party was involved from the brief retraction notice for “EMT phenotype is induced by increased Src kinase activity via Src-mediated caspase-8 phosphorylation:”

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Editors say they missed “fairly obvious clues” of third party tampering, publish fake peer reviews

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BJCP Cover

The editors of a journal that recently retracted a paper after the peer-review process was “compromised” have published the fake reviews, along with additional details about the case.

In the editorial titled “Organised crime against the academic peer review system,” Adam Cohen and other editors at the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology say they missed “several fairly obvious clues that should have set alarm bells ringing.” For instance, the glowing reviews from supposed high-profile researchers at Ivy League institutions were returned within a few days, were riddled with grammar problems, and the authors had no previous publications. 

The case is one of many we’ve recently seen in which papers are pulled due to actions of a third party

The paper was submitted on August 5, 2015. From the beginning, the timing was suspect, Cohen — the director for the Centre for Human Drug Research in The Netherlands — and his colleagues note: Read the rest of this entry »

Pharmacology journal pulls paper because third party “compromised” peer review

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BJCP CoverThe British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (BJCP) has retracted a 2015 paper about treating heart failure after deciding its peer review process had been compromised.

This paper is one of the many we’ve noticed lately that have been felled by the actions of a “third party” — in this case, a manuscript editing company called EditPub.

The newly retracted paper, “rhBNP therapy can improve clinical outcomes and reduce in-hospital mortality compared with dobutamine in heart failure patients: a meta-analysis,” has not yet been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

Here’s the retraction note, which tells us a bit more: Read the rest of this entry »

Fraudster loses third attempt to remove 7-year debarment

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court caseA U.S. judge has denied a virology researcher’s third attempt to overturn a seven-year debarment from receiving federal funds, following a 2010 decision by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

The ORI banned Scott Brodie for seven years after concluding he had committed 15 acts of misconduct at the University of Washington. The deception affected grant applications, published papers, manuscripts, and presentations. Since then, Brodie has tried multiple times to reverse the ruling in court.

In the latest decision, dated June 13, United States District Judge James E. Boasberg writes: Read the rest of this entry »

Can a tracking system for peer reviewers help stop fakes?

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Andrew Preston Credit: Victoria University of Wellington

The problem of fake peer reviews never seems to end — although the research community has known about it since 2014, publishers are still discovering new cases. In April, one journal alone retracted 107 papers after discovering the review process had been compromised. By tracking individual reviewers’ contributions, Publons — recently purchased by Clarivate Analytics — thinks that it can help curtail the problem of faked reviews. Co-founder and CEO Andrew Preston spoke to us about how it might work — and how the site has responded to recent criticism about accessibility to review data.

Retraction Watch: What is Publons doing to help combat the problem of faked reviews? 

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Written by Alison McCook

June 23rd, 2017 at 10:00 am

Journal retracts two papers by authors who lifted others’ data

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A journal has retracted two 2014 papers after the editors discovered the authors used data from other research groups without permission.

The papers, both published in the same issue of Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics and retracted in May, suffered from similar issues—the authors published data that was not theirs. The authors are all based at different institutions in China; as far as we can tell, the papers do not have any authors in common.

When we asked the publisher whether a third party, such as a paper mill, may have been involved, a spokesperson for Springer told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Despite author’s protest, journal removes paper on emergency department prices

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A journal has temporarily removed a paper showing the dramatic differences in the cost of providing emergency care that caught national attention (and some criticism from emergency care providers), despite the first author’s claims that the results are valid.

The paper, published online in February by the Annals of Emergency Medicine, showed that it can cost significantly more for patients to be treated at emergency departments than at urgent care centers, even for the same conditions. Soon after the paper was published, first author Vivian Ho at Rice University was told by the American College of Emergency Physicians, which publishes the journal, that there were some errors in the appendix, and they wanted to reanalyze the entire paper.

Ho told us:

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Five retractions for engineering duo in South Korea over duplication, fraudulent data

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An engineering student in South Korea and a professor have retracted five papers from four different journals for reasons ranging from figure duplication to manipulated or fraudulent data.

Jae Hyo Park, who is pursuing his PhD, and Seung Ki Joo, a professor in the department of material science and engineering at Seoul National University in South Korea, appear on all five papers as first and last author, respectively.

According to an official at IOP Publishing, the retractions began when a third party contacted them last March about “potential misconduct” in a paper published earlier that year in one of its journals—Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics. The IOP official Simon Davies explained: Read the rest of this entry »

Medical journal retracts study over fake review, authorship concerns

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european-journal-of-medical-researchA journal has retracted a 2015 study about lung cancer after learning the peer-review process had been compromised.

The paper was published in March, 2015 — the same month publisher BioMed Central (BMC) pulled 43 papers for fake reviews.

According to the retraction notice in the European Journal of Medical Research, the authors’ institution in China informed the publisher that the authors had used a third party to help with copyediting and submission to the journal, raising concerns about the authorship of the paper.

Here’s the retraction notice, published in August: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

November 2nd, 2016 at 9:30 am

Ever heard of China’s “five don’ts of academic publishing?”

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castNo country is immune to misconduct — but some are being more proactive than others.

China, for one, has issued a policy dubbed the “5 don’ts of academic publishing,” which appear to specifically target the ways in which researchers have subverted the peer-review process or hired outsiders to help them with their manuscripts.

An announcement signed by the The Chinese Association for Science and Technology (CAST), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and Technology, Health and Family Planning Commission, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academy of Engineering, and the Natural Science Foundation stipulates: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm