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 That’s according to the corresponding author of the paper, which has now been retracted.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 »

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

Second paper about major blood pressure drug trial in Japan to be retracted

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hr_cimageA second paper about a major randomized trial in Japanese patients with heart disease is being retracted, after an investigation reportedly found multiple problems with the paper.

As predicted by Pharma JapanHypertension Research is retracting a 2011 paper, already the subject of two errata. Although a spokesperson said she couldn’t say why the paper was being retracted, as the notice was still in production, editor Toshihiko Ishimitsu told us: Read the rest of this entry »

A plagiarism loop: Authors copied from papers that had copied from others

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2Note to self: If you’re going to duplicate your own work, don’t copy from papers that plagiarize others’ research.

Just such a mistake has cost a PhD candidate three papers — although his co-author argues that a company is in part to blame.

Hossein Jafarzadeh, who is studying mechanical engineering at the University of Tehran, apparently asked a company to complete photomicroscopy for his work. Instead of doing to the work, the company provided him with an image taken from another paper, according to Karen Abrinia, his co-author, who is based at the same institution.

That’s the explanation that Abrinia gave when we asked about three retractions that the pair share, at least.

What the notices tell us is a little more convoluted. Plagiarized material from two different papers ended up in two different papers by the pair. Then, the researchers copied from their own papers in a third paper. (We’re unclear if Abrinia attributes every step of the mess to a company or not. Confused yet?) 

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A retraction cluster? Two papers retracted for overlap with other retractions

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molecular biology reportA cluster of papers by different authors has been retracted for sharing text, even though some papers were submitted at the same time.

How is that possible? A spokesperson for Springer told us that they have reason to believe a third-party company may have helped prepare the papers for publication, and in the process might have spread the material around to multiple manuscripts.

The details of the cluster are a bit perplexing, so bear with us. Two of the papers — that were published only months apart — have already been retracted, as we reported in April. Now, two other papers have been retracted from Molecular Biology Reports — and both notices cite the previously retracted papers. The new notices also say that there’s reason to believe that the peer-review process was compromised.

All papers conclude that a certain polymorphism could signal a risk for coronary artery disease among Chinese people.

We’ll start with the retraction notice for “Fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 polymorphisms and coronary artery disease: a case control study,” which cites the two papers that were retracted previously:

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UK doctor banned from practice after fabricating data in grant applications

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Queen Mary University of LondonA prominent cancer researcher in England has been banned from practicing medicine and has lost his funding from a UK charity after being found to have fabricated data in grant applications.

The moves against the researcher, Thorsten Hagemann, come after investigations by the General Medical Council, akin to a U.S. state medical board, and Hagemann’s former institution, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), turned up evidence of misconduct. In June, we reported on the retraction of a meeting abstract in The Journal of Pathology and the corrigendum of a Nature paper by Hagemann following the inquiry at QMUL.

A spokesperson from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service told the Evening Standard: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 8th, 2016 at 2:00 pm