Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘australia retractions’ Category

What turned a cancer researcher into a literature watchdog?

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Jennifer Byrne

Sometime in the middle of 2015, Jennifer Byrne, professor of molecular oncology at the University of Sydney, began her journey from cancer researcher to a scientific literature sleuth, seeking out potentially problematic papers.

The first step was when she noticed several papers that contained a mistake in a DNA construct which, she believed, meant the papers were not testing the gene in question, associated with multiple cancer types.  She started a writing campaign to the journal editors and researchers, with mixed success. But less than two years later, two of the five papers she flagged have already been retracted.

When asked why she spent time away from bench research to examine this issue, Byrne told us:  Read the rest of this entry »

Error-laden database kills paper on extinction patterns

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An ecologist in Australia realized a database he was using to spot trends in extinction patterns was problematic, affecting two papers. One journal issued an expression of concern, which has since turned into a retraction. So far, the other journal has left the paper untouched.

The now-retracted paper concluded that medium-sized species on islands tend to go extinct more often than large or small mammalian species. But a little over a year ago, Biology Letters flagged the paper with an expression of concern (EOC), noting “concerns regarding the validity of some of the data and methods used in the analysis.”

Now, last author Marcel Cardillo at Australian National University has come to a new conclusion about extinction patterns. A retraction notice that has replaced the EOC explains:

Read the rest of this entry »

Remaining fraud charges withdrawn for Parkinson’s researcher

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

Two remaining charges against a Parkinson’s researcher recently convicted of fraud have been dropped by an Australian court.

In October, Caroline Barwood, formerly at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, was found guilty of five out of seven charges. Subsequently, Barwood was handed two suspended sentences: one for two years, and another for 15 months, both to be served concurrently. She will not serve jail time.

Initially, Barwood pleaded not guilty to the three charges of fraud and four instances of attempted fraud — unlike her former UQ colleague Bruce Murdoch, who pleaded guilty to 17 fraud-related charges in March, and also earned himself a two-year suspended sentence

Barwood was found guilty of five charges against her, but the jury could not reach a majority verdict on one count of fraud and another of attempted fraud. She was asked to re-attend court for a “mention.” 

On December 6, those charges were withdrawn. Barwood told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

December 7th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Journal editor resigns over firestorm from circumcision article

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10-5409-logoCircumcision is a hot topic. So hot, questions about a reviewer’s potential conflict with the author of an article promoting circumcision prompted a journal editor to resign, and one academic to call another a “fanatic.”

It began in August, when Brian Morris, professor emeritus of molecular medicine at the University of Sydney, published a critique of a paper that itself had critiqued the practice of circumcision. But the sole reviewer of Morris’s article was a frequent co-author of his, Aaron Tobian of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In his reference section, Morris listed five papers on which he and Tobian were co-authors.

A tipster forwarded us emails from Eduardo Garin, editor in chief of the journal, saying he had resigned from the journal after it refused to retract the paper, despite the fact that its sole reviewer was a frequent collaborator of the author. However, Garin is still listed as editor in chief on the journal’s site.  

Garin confirmed to us that he resigned after the publisher refused to retract or correct the Morris article; however, Xiu-Xia Song, vice director of the editorial office at Baishideng, told us by email that Garin is still the journal’s editor.

Here are some specifics:

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A grad student was caught in the crossfire of fraud — and fought back

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uqIn March, 2013, a graduate student joined the lab of a prominent researcher in Australia, investigating new therapies for Parkinson’s. A few months later, everything fell apart.

In September 2013, the University of Queensland (UQ) announced it was retracting one of the lab’s papers, returning the money used to fund the research and launching a fraud investigation.  Since then, the scandal has grown to the point where the lead researcher and his co-author have been convicted of fraud in an Australian court.  

Now, the graduate student is fighting back. After losing her research project and being escorted off campus for allegedly erratic behavior, she has appealed to UQ to reimburse her for tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, and is now awaiting a verdict from a government ombudsman. The graduate student goes by “Dominique,” which is not her real name; Retraction Watch is keeping her identity confidential to protect her privacy. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by trevorlstokes

November 22nd, 2016 at 9:30 am

Parkinson’s researcher avoids jail following fraud conviction

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence today after being found guilty of fraud yesterday by a jury in Brisbane, Australia.

A jury had found Barwood guilty of five out of the seven charges against her.

Earlier this year, Bruce Murdoch, a former colleague of Barwood’s at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia, pleaded guilty to 17-fraud-related charges, and earned himself the same sentenceIn Barwood’s week-long trial, the court heard that she was previously in an intimate relationship with Murdoch. Both left the UQ in 2013.

Barwood’s attorney, Gregory McGuire, told Retraction Watch  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 25th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Australian court finds Parkinson’s researcher guilty of fraud

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

A court in Brisbane, Australia, has found Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood guilty of two charges of fraud and three counts of attempted fraud.

Barwood, 31, was formerly based at the University of Queensland (UQ). Released on bail in 2014, Barwood had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges. Yesterday, according to 9News, a jury found her guilty on the five counts, but not on two others.

She will be sentenced tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 24th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Parkinson’s researcher in Australia pleads not guilty to fraud

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood pleaded not guilty to fraud-related charges in a Brisbane courtroom Monday.

According to 9News, Barwood is accused of three counts of fraud, and four instances of attempted fraud, which include trying to obtain approximately $700,000 (AUD) from various organizations between 2011 and 2013 for a study that never occurred. The case follows an investigation at her former institution, the University of Queensland (UQ), which resulted in three of her papers being retracted

Crown Prosecutor Caroline Marco alleged that Barwood was also intimately involved with Bruce Murdoch, her former colleague at the UQ, who has pleaded guilty to 17-fraud related charges, and received a two-year suspended sentence earlier this year.

Marco also claimed that Barwood admitted that Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 17th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Parkinson’s researcher with three retractions heads to court on Monday

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

On Monday, Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood will head to court in Brisbane, Australia, following a probe at her former institution, the University of Queensland (UQ).

Barwood was granted bail in November, 2014 — charges included  that she “dishonestly applied for grant funds,” and fabricated research that claimed a breakthrough in treating Parkinson’s disease, according to The GuardianIn March, Bruce Murdoch, a former colleague of Barwood’s at UQ, pleaded guilty to 17 fraud-related charges, and received a two-year suspended sentence after an institutional investigation into 92 academic papers.

We contacted Barwood about the upcoming trial, but she told us Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 14th, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Authors retract two papers on shock therapy, citing language barriers

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the-journal-of-ectAn electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) journal has retracted two 2016 papers after uncovering problems in the data analyses, which the author says were due to language barriers.

Interestingly, two authors of the newly retracted papers — Yu-Tao Xiang from the University of Macau in China and Gabor Ungvari from the University of Western Australia — also recently co-authored another paper on an entirely different topic that has received a lengthy correction. That paper — on the use of organs from executed prisoners in China — raised controversy for allegedly reporting a “sanitized” account of the practice. The correction notice, in the Journal of Medical Ethics, was accompanied by a critics’ rebuttal to the paper.

According to Xiang, the newly retracted papers in The Journal of ECT — which examined the efficacy of ECT in treating schizophrenia — were pulled due to “genuine errors” resulting from differences in language. All the authors agree with the retraction, Xiang noted. 

Xiang told us: Read the rest of this entry »