A group of Australian researchers who studied the cat’s meow as a model for urinary incontinence and other motor-neural issues in people have lost a 2015 paper in the wake of a misconduct investigation.
The target of the inquiry was Hari Subramanian, a former senior research fellow at the Queensland Brain Institute, part of the University of Queensland (UQ). Subramanian was leading studies of incontinence in the elderly, for which he sometimes used nerve stimulators on live rodents and cats. As The Australian reported last September, animal rights activists have objected to his research methods — which sometimes involved sticking probes into the brains of living animals.
Recently, the school launched an investigation — prompted by an unknown complainant — into the integrity of Subramanian’s data in two articles, including one, now retracted, that appeared in the Journal of Comparative Neurology.
The case is controversial, to say the least, replete with allegations of unfair attacks. Subramanian’s lawyer told us the journal may be reviewing its decision to retract the paper. (We couldn’t confirm that with the editor.)
A prominent (yet controversial) journalist in Australia has admitted to duplicating three images that were part of her PhD thesis — a practice outside experts agreed was acceptable, if not ideal, at the time, according to a report released today.
As part of an inquiry, the University of Adelaide convened an expert panel to investigate 17 allegations of duplication and/or manipulation in Maryanne Demasi’s 2004 thesis. Duplication is a common reason for retractions, such as when researchers use the same image to depict the results of different experiments.
Regarding the allegations of misconduct in Demasi’s thesis, the originals of the images in question were long gone, so in 14 instances, an expert concluded it was not possible to conclude whether or not duplication had occurred. But in the remaining three instances, Demasi admitted she had “duplicated or probably duplicated” the images:
A university in Australia that’s made headlines before over allegations of research misconduct has found itself in the news once again.
Last week, the University of Queensland (UQ) announced some of its authors were retracting a paper after discovering data were missing. Just days later, the university made headlines over an investigation into three papers about controversial therapies that were OK’d by UQ ethics committees.Continue reading Research problems at Australian university hit the news
What Caught Our Attention: When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) publishes a correction that is more than a misspelling of a name, we take a look. When NEJM publishes a 500-word correction to the data in a highly cited article, we take notice. This study tested the effects of a drug to prevent blood loss in patients undergoing heart surgery; it’s been the subject of correspondence between the authors and outside experts. The correction involved tweaks — lots of tweaks — to the text and tables, which did not change the outcomes. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Big journal, big correction
The mistake occurred after the authors submitted revisions to the manuscript without tracking the changes, prompting the publisher to believe nothing had been changed and publishing the previous version. The journal initially told the authors it planned to publish an erratum that described the mistake as a production error, but then retracted the paper—seemingly without consulting the authors. However, the authors said they were happy with the outcome.
A paper on the prevalence of cruel social behavior in the corporate world has been retracted, following an investigation at the authors’ university. According to the senior author, she inadvertently paraphrased a dissertation on the same topic that did not belong to her student and co-author.
Too many papers cite retracted research — even after it’s been retracted. It’s a problem. It can be especially a problem in clinical fields, where patient care is at stake. Recently, Richard Gray at La Trobe University in Australia and his colleagues examined the scope of the problem in the nursing field, noting how many systematic reviews included findings from retracted clinical trials. We spoke with Gray about their findings, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies — and what they might mean for the safety of patients.
Retraction Watch: Retractions are a concern in any field, but as you note, when clinical practice is at stake, it can be particularly worrisome. Do you think your findings raise any potential concerns about patient safety?