Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

About Adam Marcus

with 64 comments

20130815_130338Adam Marcus is the managing editor of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News and Anesthesiology News. His freelance articles have appeared in Science, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, The Scientist, Birder’s World, Sciam.com, and many other publications and web sites.

Adam has an BA in history from the University of Michigan and an MA in science writing from Johns Hopkins. He can be reached at adam.marcus1 [at] gmail.com.

For more on what this blog is about, see its first post.

Written by amarcus41

August 3rd, 2010 at 9:32 am

Posted in

Comments
  • Elliot October 7, 2010 at 3:06 am

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/world/asia/07fraud.html?hp

    I was wondering why I hadn’t seen the 70(?!) retracted papers on retraction watch.

    Elliot.

    • SoundEagle November 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Hi Dr Adam Marcus and Dr Ivan Oransky,

      Hello! You have a wonderful blog here. It is great that WordPress and AutoMattic are supporting you in the unfortunate and vexing censorship issue, which, hopefully, will be amicably resolved and never happen again. It is really not easy to be a conscientious scientist and/or journalist nowadays, as gagging can come in many forms.

      I have just subscribed to your excellent blogs at retractionwatch.com, embargowatch.wordpress.com and pitchesthatmissed.blogspot.com.au/.

      By the way, I would like to inform you that the post at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/two-thirds-of-scientific-publications-retracted-are-fraudulent/ might be of some interest to you.

  • Yev November 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Wasn’t sure where to post this.
    You may be interested in an ongoing investigation regarding fabrication of data by a graduate student happening at Columbia http://tinyurl.com/24jfm5g.
    what caught my attention was the following quote
    ‘The University is in the process of requesting the trustees to formally revoke Ms. Sezen’s Ph.D,” a Columbia spokesman said in a statement. Sames declined to speak to C&EN.’
    Thanks for you effort on this blog. I love it!

  • Elliot January 20, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Seeing the high number of retractions these days would it be possible to have a weekly newsletter with highlights?
    Best,
    Elliot

    • ivanoransky February 24, 2011 at 10:53 pm

      A great idea, Elliot — we’ll put our heads together and think about what it would look like.

  • Elliot February 18, 2011 at 2:02 am

    This case in Germany might lead to some interesting retreactions in the near future. With all the political consequences attached:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/18/world/europe/18briefs-germany.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Guttenberg&st=cse

  • Elliot February 22, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Update on the German Defence Minister. He has now agreed to plagiarism and retracted his PhD thesis in the hope of retaining his Post.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,746913,00.html

  • Mark Holcombe February 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    The retractions highlighted on this site almost exclusively focus on researchers outside of the United States. Is there a particular reason for that phenomena?

  • Marco March 27, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Any idea of adding a “tip us” button which leads to a place to add tips? Or is there already one (can’t find it).

    For example, there’s an interesting paper out on “fraud” versus “error” retractions:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21081306

  • Angel April 1, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Because I love the Schadenfreude involved in retracted Cell papers, I thought I alert you to a notice that appears in the 1 April 2011 issue of the journal. (Retraction Notice to: DNA-PKcs-PIDDosome: A Nuclear Caspase-2-Activating Complex with Role in G2/M Checkpoint Maintenance).
    I’ll send you the link if you need it.

  • Max April 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Here is newly retracted paper in Cell:
    http://www.cell.com/fulltext/S0092-8674(11)00292-3

  • Johnny June 9, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Maybe you would like to find out the story behind these two retractions of papers from the lab of F Ashcroft in Oxford

    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 28;106(17):7263. Epub 2009 Apr 20.
    Retraction for Ma et al. “Glucose regulates the effects of leptin on hypothalamic POMC neurons”.

    Retraction for Xiaosong Ma et al., “Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Stimulates Hypothalamic Proopiomelanocortin Neurons”
    At the request of the authors, the following manuscript has been retracted: “Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Stimulates Hypothalamic Proopiomelanocortin Neurons” by Xiaosong Ma, Jens Bruning, and Frances M. Ashcroft, which appeared on pages 7125–7129 of the July 4, 2007 issue (Journal of Neuroscience.

  • SC June 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    This is such a fascinating blog. I came across this only recently and it’s particularly timely as I am drafting my first manuscript ever. It just makes me double-triple-quadruple-check all my raw data and statistics, cross check all my blots and controls… because I don’t ever want to show up on a post on this website!

  • Clone September 2, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Been a long term reader of your blog- you guys have been doing a great job. It was about time I contribute something and just thought I’d highlight these two retractions that have just come across my desk.

    1: [No authors listed] Related Articles
    Retraction. Fibronectin increases matrix metalloproteinase 9 expression through activation of c-Fos via extracellular-regulated kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathways in human lung carcinoma cells.
    J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 15;286(28):25416.
    PMID: 21882397 [PubMed – in process]

    2: [No authors listed] Related Articles
    Retraction. Activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor β/δ (PPARβ/δ) increases the expression of prostaglandin E₂ receptor subtype EP4. The roles of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein β.
    J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 15;286(28):25416.
    PMID: 21882370 [PubMed – in process]

  • Stephen Wood September 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I tried to search Hannes Strasser on your web site. I am not sure you have heard about this one. Check out this retracted article in Lancet on stem cells for stress incontinence. He is also currently being tried in criminal court for doing research on patient’s without their consent.

  • Sarah September 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Why don’t scientific journals have a service like Westlaw and Lexis for attorneys? I can look up a case, and determine from the red, yellow and green flags whether a case is still “good law” on certain points made in the opinion. And it provides links to the cases that criticized, overturned, discussed etc. the first case. This would seem to be a big help to the situation where scientists continue to cite to and rely upon scientific papers that have been retracted or criticized.

  • ann viera October 13, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Did you all see this?
    Infect Immun. 2011 Oct;79(10):3855-9. Epub 2011 Aug 8.
    Retracted science and the retraction index.
    Fang FC, Casadevall A.
    Abstract

    Articles may be retracted when their findings are no longer considered trustworthy due to scientific misconduct or error, they plagiarize previously published work, or they are found to violate ethical guidelines. Using a novel measure that we call the “retraction index,” we found that the frequency of retraction varies among journals and shows a strong correlation with the journal impact factor. Although retractions are relatively rare, the retraction process is essential for correcting the literature and maintaining trust in the scientific process.

    PMID:
    21825063
    [PubMed – in process]

    • ivanoransky October 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      We did, here’s our post from August: http://www.retractionwatch.com/2011/08/11/is-it-time-for-a-retraction-index/ Always appreciate tips!

    • Kay Fields (retired from US-DHHS) August 3, 2012 at 11:01 am

      After almost 20 years at ORI, I want to say that many retractions, even for the most serious misconduct- ie data fabrication or falsification, fail to indicate who is responsible, thereby impugning the honesty of the innocent co-author, who have contributed their own valid data to a joint manuscript. They not only suffer a blow to their belief in the honesty of scientists, but it is unusual that the valid data can be published separately, thereby blocking the innocent (if inattentive) coauthors of credit for their valid findings. I believe it is up to the senior coauthor (or the most senior coauthor not involved in data falsiication, if the lab director/coauthor was directly responsible) to make it clear in the retraction wording who is and is not to be hel responsible. ORI tries to enforce this- but only has jurisdiction over data and publications involving USPHS funds or grant applications, and the retraction is often one of the last steps in a long process, taking place months or years after the false data is “out there”.

      kay

  • Rostyslav SKLYAR, Dr. (Eng) November 7, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Plagiarism in a “family” style: plagiaristic cooperation between Universities of Ferrara and Genova with the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Northwestern University at http://issuu.com/r_sklyar/docs/sklyarvsmussaivaldi

  • cheryl December 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I’m so impressed by you guys. Thank you for all the good honest work

  • Rafa January 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/openLetterWormyCorn.php

    Thought this would be of general interest. Just a small curiosity.

  • Carlos Alméciga February 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I received an invitation from the Journal of Chemical Science and Technology (http://www.sjcst.org/) to submit a manuscript. Everything was normal in the e-mail, but then they said:

    “To promote the development and communication of chemistry technology, we cordially invite you to extend this paper 60% at least different from the original one and publish it in our journal. The paper will be published with no charge”

    Would you consider this an invitation to plagiarism?

    I think these type of journals give a bad image to open-access.

  • Alain Silk February 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Quick suggestion: in the vein of employers encouraging workplace safety by posting “this job has worked X many days without an accident” signs, it might help to encourage scientific oversight and accountability by tracking and publicizing “days without a retraction/correction/addendum etc.” data for labs or academic institutions.

  • Leo van der Heijden March 9, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I saw in your list of countries “Holland”.

    Could you please change this in “The Netherlands”, the official name of this country.
    Holland is the name of 2 provinces of The Netherlands, and using this name is an insult to the inhabitants of the other 10 provinces.

    Thank you.

    • amarcus41 March 9, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Indeed! Sorry for that. I have a Dutch friend who said as much not long ago.
      I have added a category for The Netherlands; the trick will be recategorizing the old posts, but we’ll figure it out.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Adam

  • Joe March 17, 2012 at 12:18 am

    A novel way to deal with plagiarism:

    http://deepclimate.org/2012/03/16/wiley-coverup-the-great-wegman-and-said-redo-to-remove-plagiarism-and-errors/

    but possibly only if the plagiarist is also the Editor-in-chief?

  • Robin Hood of Plant Science April 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm
  • Anon June 5, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I was wondering if you are keeping up with the arsenic life controversy? It seems as if a retraction in Science may be in the future: http://rrresearch.fieldofscience.com/ and http://www.nature.com/news/study-challenges-existence-of-arsenic-based-life-1.9861

  • rory robertson (former fattie) July 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Adam. Here’s one for you to consider: the “Australian Paradox” is an obvious candidate for retraction. Reliable nutrition information is critical in the fight against obesity and diabetes (“diabesity”). In Australia, the contribution of excess sugar consumption to obesity has been exonerated by high-profile but over-confident academics/scientists with very strong links to the sugar industry and other sugar sellers.

    No surprise I guess, but what’s interesting is that this deeply flawed paper with its recklessly false conclusion – “an inverse relationship” between sugar consumption and obesity, the Australian Paradox! – was published in a supposedly peer-reviewed science journal. Two respected scientists have agreed publicly that the authors’ conclusion belies the readily available facts.

    I’m arguing for the shoddy paper’s retraction by the authors, the journal Nutrients and/or the University of Sydney. It’s all documented at http://www.australianparadox.com/ and http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/research-causes-stir-over-sugars-role-in-obesity-20120330-1w3e5.html#ixzz20FXohd4R .

    Nothing has happened since March except that the authors have pretended their paper is fine. It isn’t. And it’s simply unreasonable to allow the false conclusion – “an inverse relationship” between sugar consumption and obesity, the Australian Paradox! – to sit uncorrected in a journal, misinforming scientists across the world via the Internet many months after the real facts have become clear.

    Because of the unreasonable delay in correcting the scientific record, one of the questions I’m now asking is when does an inadvertent series of major errors deliberately left uncorrected become an academic and scientific hoax? Any thoughts, anyone?

  • Anna January 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I’ve got a cute one for you: http://www.pnas.org/content/110/3/1137.short?rss=1 . A correction on a paper about… retractions! Well, at least it wasn’t retracted.
    -AJW

  • William February 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Just happened upon Reaction Watch Rule 5.1 Q: is there a list of the rules, seems like a good and entertaining idea…

  • JL February 26, 2013 at 12:50 am

    Adam and Marcus – I would like to email you directly, but can not locate your contact information anywhere on this website.

  • Bryan February 27, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Help! Just published my first paper – short two-pager about an existing marine species newly discovered in my country. The proof readers at the journal have introduced five errors not of my doing. One is an entire incorrect sentence that they have inserted. I have now hit a wall of silence because it has gone to ‘print’ and they apparently don’t change things after that. I use inverted commas because it is an online journal so presumably it is entirely possible to make changes. At this rate I am going to be forced to retract…. Has anybody got any advice either on how to force the changes or about how to retract?

  • Marco March 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Any possibility to get the “recent comments” list back? And preferably with more than just three recent comments. Pretty please?

    • ivanoransky March 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks for noticing that it had disappeared, which wasn’t anything we did. Technical glitch, I guess. We’ve replaced it, but with just three comments. More would push down the rest of what’s in the right-hand nav too much.

  • Toby White March 12, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Will y’all be saying anything about the events at Hopkins described in the Washington Post this morning (and quoting Adam)?

  • RG April 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm
  • Bill April 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Adam,

    Not a retraction as such, but interesting.. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-22186220

    Keep up the good work,
    Bill

  • Etienne Low-Decarie April 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    What happens in fields where publication in peer review journals is not the norm? I am thinking of the recent controversy in the field of economics pitting Reinhart-Rogoff vs Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin where Excel mistakes and very shoddy statistics has had real global implications. eg :http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21576362-seminal-analysis-relationship-between-debt-and-growth-comes-under How do retractions work when a journal is not involved?

  • D G Rossiter May 6, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Hot off the press from Nature:

    “Nature | News
    Symmetry study deemed a fraud

    University finds evidence of fakery in Jamaican dance data.”

    under

    News & Comment
    News
    2013
    May
    Article

    this was a 2005 cover of a dancing wireframe figure. One author began to suspect the other’s data… it doesn’t get any higher impact than this

  • PPV June 26, 2013 at 9:55 am
    • PPV June 26, 2013 at 9:56 am

      InterEsting none the less.

  • 11jigen@mail.goo.ne.jp August 18, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Here’s an interisting one

    http://twu-pathology.blogspot.ca

    • michaelhbriggs August 18, 2013 at 6:38 am

      That’s quite a list! Very interesting!
      Thank you 11jigen, you are a LEGEND!!

    • Stewart August 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      Quite astonishing Jigen!

      Do you know of any retractions from the researchers in question?

  • Question September 13, 2013 at 4:24 am

    As experts in authorship matters, I was wondering if you could offer some guidance. I read that all authors have to approve submission of a paper. Unfortunately, a colleague of mine recently passed away. The manuscripts which he helped draft are being submitted with our colleague as author with a note of explanation to the editor and a footnote in the paper. These seem fairly simple. However, what about projects in which they were very much involved but where the manuscript drafting is done entirely after the time of death? Should their contribution be recognized in the acknowledgements rather than “author”?
    Many thanks.

  • brauchichnich September 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Hello, Thank you for your important website! In economics we have a committee that investigates plagiarism. There was a drastic case of self-plagiarism by a prominent researcher and two coauthors who published very similar research in at least four different journals without proper cross-references, you briefly mentioned it here:
    http://www.retractionwatch.com/2012/12/12/why-arent-there-more-retractions-in-business-and-economics-journals/#more-11085
    One of the journals made the corresponding author publicly apologize, http://aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.3.239
    his home faculty investigated
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/1GeaNAFcKZAEPJp69F_Dc3Res6VwP5vtKys_e3si2ZeMfWF3iAopIZ3wvoDSY/edit?pli=1
    and his contract was not renewed
    http://economiclogic.blogspot.de/2012/04/bruno-frey-story-that-keeps-giving.html?m=1
    – he quickly got a new one elsewhere though – and they were put on the RePEc list of plagiarism offenders:
    http://plagiarism.repec.org/offenders.html
    However, at the website
    http://freyplag.wikia.com
    clear and extensive evidence was compiled that the self-plagiarism occurred in many other cases and with many other coauthors, over many years and in many journals. This was reported to the editors of some of the journals, the press, and the RePEc plagiarism committee.
    http://www.econjobrumors.com/topic/copy-of-letter-to-repec-plagiarism-committee-and-editors-of-aer-and-jpe
    As far as I know, only the latter replied, as follows:
    http://blog.repec.org/2011/02/16/plagiarism-in-economics
    “It was felt by many on the committee that it should not become a conduit for anonymos accusations. We guarantee the anonymity of the submitter, if requested, but we want a real person to bring the case to the table. We hope this small cost will prevent the committee from being overburdened by cases that are not worth pursuing.
    This says nothing about the merits of the case that is described. My understanding is that the relevant journals have been contacted, and the committee would take on the case if the journals are not reaching a conclusion, and somebody submits the case. We are not activiely seeking work.” Although about every economist knows about the case that ess widely reported in the press and blogs and there is a lot of outrage and quite some commenting in anonymous blogs about some of the coauthors, apparently everyone is afraid of making the case under her our his name, which in my eyes reflects very badly on our field. I hope letting your readership know about this can help us to find a solution.

  • Kieranb September 30, 2013 at 12:00 am
  • Jerry Zon December 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Kudos to Adam and Ivan for Retraction Watch, which I’ve highlighted in my Dec 16th 2013 posting on the glut of scientific literature and dark side of open-access journals.

    http://zon.trilinkbiotech.com/2013/12/16/scientific-publications/

  • someone May 16, 2014 at 1:06 pm
  • Vincent Lim November 22, 2014 at 3:46 am

    I recently criticized a paper because it contradicted the well-established information. In fact, the whole report could simply be an artifact. The Editorial manager provided responses from both the handling editor and the author but the justification is very weak.

    When I pressed the journal for an official opinion, I got the reply

    ” I have now discussed the issue with the Editor-In-Chief. We all agree that as far as we have already provided responses to your comments by both the Editor and the Author, and given that the manuscript has been published several years ago and the contact information for all authors is available, any further communication about the results reported there should only take place directly between you and the authors”.

    There should be criteria for correction/retraction and the handling editor must take responsibility if serious errors are found out.

    And if I bought spoiled milk in a supermarket, I am not supposed to talk to the manager of the milk factory.

    Any suggestions?

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