Criminologist posts 27-page article explaining why he asked for one of his papers to be retracted

via Tony Webster/Flickr

On Sunday, May 5 of this year, Justin Pickett received an email from a “John Smith” with the subject line “Data irregularities and request for data.”

“There seem to be irregularities in the data and findings in five articles that you published together with two surveys,” the anonymous correspondent wrote. “This document outlines those irregularities.”

Pickett was a co-author on only one of the papers, “Ethnic threat and social control: Examining public support for judicial use of ethnicity in punishment,” which was published in 2011 — the year he earned his PhD from Florida State University (FSU) — in the journal Criminology. The other four papers were published from 2015 to 2019 in Criminology, Law & Society Review, and Social Problems. The only author common to all four was Eric A. Stewart, a professor at FSU.

Continue reading Criminologist posts 27-page article explaining why he asked for one of his papers to be retracted

Cancer specialists in Mexico earn third retraction following questions about their data

Cases of cancers seen at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, according to researcher Agustin Avilés

A group of cancer researchers in Mexico has lost their third paper over concerns about the integrity of their data. 

Neither the new retraction, in the journal Hematology, nor the previous two, cite misconduct as the reason for the removals. However, the statements do refer to lack of reliability of results,  “ambiguities and inconsistencies” in the findings and other serious issues. 

The first author on each paper is Agustin Avilés, whom the Hematology article listed as being with the National Medical Center in Mexico City. 

According to the retraction notice

Continue reading Cancer specialists in Mexico earn third retraction following questions about their data

Georgia State researcher has two papers retracted, eight flagged. He’s not happy about it.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry has retracted two papers by a Georgia State University researcher, as well as flagged eight more with expressions of concern, a move the scientist called “unfair and unjustified.”

Ming-Hui Zou, the common author on all ten papers — as well as on two more that have been corrected by the same journal — is, according to Georgia State,

an internationally recognized researcher in molecular and translational medicine and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Molecular Medicine and associate vice president for research at Georgia State University…

Zou was at the University of Oklahoma when the papers in question were published. He moved to Georgia State in 2015.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Reactive nitrogen species is required for the activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase by statin in vivo,” published in 2008 Zou as the last author: 

Continue reading Georgia State researcher has two papers retracted, eight flagged. He’s not happy about it.

An author told a journal their institution had no one who handled allegations. Turns out that wasn’t true.

Istituto Superiore di Sanità

Should journals always take authors at their word?

Take the case of a recent expression of concern in the Journal of Cell Science following concerns about image manipulation in a 2006 paper, “Inhibition of TPO-induced MEK or mTOR activity induces opposite effects on the ploidy of human differentiating megakaryocytes.”

Here’s the notice:

Continue reading An author told a journal their institution had no one who handled allegations. Turns out that wasn’t true.

Public health journal retracts paper on austerity for “inaccurate and misleading results”

A protest against austerity policies

The American Journal of Public Health has retracted a controversial 2018 paper on the effects of economic austerity in Spain because it contained “inaccurate and misleading” results linking  those policies to a massive spike in premature deaths.

The journal also has published a second piece, by a different group of authors, refuting the central claim of the now-retracted paper. Whereas the first article asserted that austerity in Spain during the mid-2000s led to more than 500,000 excess deaths, the new research says deaths in the country slowed during the country’s economic crisis.

The flawed article, “Austerity policies and mortality in Spain after the financial crisis of 2008,” was written by a group of researchers at the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, on the Canary Islands. The authors claimed that their analysis of the years 2011 to 2015 showed that:

Continue reading Public health journal retracts paper on austerity for “inaccurate and misleading results”

A university requested retractions of eight papers. It took journals a year to yank four of them.

Dee’lite via Flickr

On March 30, 2018, The Ohio State University (OSU) released a 75-page report concluding that Ching-Shih Chen, a cancer researcher, had deviated “from the accepted practices of image handling and figure generation and intentionally falsifying data.” The report recommended the retraction of eight papers.

By the end of August of 2018, Chen had had four papers retracted — one in Cancer Research, two in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, and one in PLoS ONE.

But it wasn’t until more than a year after the report was released that the other four papers — two from Carcinogenesis, one from Clinical Cancer Research, and one from Molecular Cellular Therapeutics — were retracted, all between April 1 and May 1 of this year.

What took so long? Your guess is as good as ours; none of the editors of those journals responded to our requests for comment.

Continue reading A university requested retractions of eight papers. It took journals a year to yank four of them.

After 18 months — and recommended retractions — no movement in psychology case

The University of Rennes-2

“Dissatisfied.” That’s how Nick Brown and James Heathers describe their reaction to the progress — or lack thereof — in the case of Nicholas Guéguen, a psychology researcher whose work the two data sleuths have questioned.

Brown and Heathers first wrote about the case in 2017. In a new blog post, they write that the science integrity office at the University of Rennes-2, where Guéguen works, pulled punches in its investigation of its faculty member and in two reports it issued last year about the case. (Brown and Heathers, who has called himself a “data thug,” had hoped to make available a preliminary report about the case last year but said the university discouraged them from doing so — a stance that, if true, we wouldn’t find surprising given many institutions prefer to sit on reports of such investigations.)

Continue reading After 18 months — and recommended retractions — no movement in psychology case

Article retracted after critics say it has “racist ideological underpinnings”

A psychology journal has retracted a controversial article about mental ability in South African women after a petition calling on the publication to withdraw the paper generated more than 5,000 signatures.  

The paper, “Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Colored South African women,” was published in Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition in March. It quickly drew attention, and outrage, from critics who objected to what they called racist overtones in the work, from the title on down.

According to the abstract:

Continue reading Article retracted after critics say it has “racist ideological underpinnings”

Harvard cancer lab subject to federal misconduct probe

Sam W. Lee, a Harvard researcher — or perhaps former Harvard researcher — who has lost three papers to retraction, including one from Nature, now has an expression of concern for another article, this one in Molecular and Cellular Biology.

The notice for that paper, 2000’s “Overexpression of Kinase-Associated Phosphatase (KAP) in Breast and Prostate Cancer and Inhibition of the Transformed Phenotype by Antisense KAP Expression,” reads: Continue reading Harvard cancer lab subject to federal misconduct probe

‘Search for inspiration’ lands too close to plagiarism, forcing retraction of grief paper

A slide from a presentation by the U.S. NSF OIG’s Jim Kroll

A pair of grief scholars in Denmark have lost a 2018 paper on ghostly apparitions after one of the researchers copied text from another article.

The study, “How many bereaved people hallucinate about their loved one? A systematic review and meta-analysis of bereavement hallucinations,” appeared in the Journal of Affective Disorders, an Elsevier publication. Authors Karina Stengaard Kamp and Helena Due — yes, a second author named Due — are with The Aarhus Bereavement Research Unit at Aarhus University.

As the retraction notice explains: Continue reading ‘Search for inspiration’ lands too close to plagiarism, forcing retraction of grief paper