Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘belgium’ Category

Three papers retracted… for being cited too frequently

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An engineering journal has retracted three 2016 papers. The reason: They had been cited too often.

Although the reason for the retractions may sound odd, the editor, Minvydas Ragulskis, told Retraction Watch he was concerned an author had engaged in citation manipulation. Specifically, Ragulskis explained that the majority of the citations came from papers at a 2017 conference on which one of the authors, Magd Abdel Wahab, was chairraising suspicion that he had asked conference presenters to cite his work.

Almost three-quarters of papers that cited Wahab’s work originated from the conference, which “is large enough to assume a high probability for citation manipulation,” Ragulskis said. (Wahab, Professor and Chair of Applied Mechanics at Ghent University in Belgium, was not a co-author on the conference papers that cited his work.)

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Written by Victoria Stern

February 2nd, 2018 at 8:00 am

Who reports more misconduct: Scientists in industry or academia?

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Simon Godecharle

Who will admit to keeping poor records, gifting authorship, or even more obvious forms of misconduct such as plagiarism? Simon Godecharle at University of Leuven and his colleagues asked 2000 scientists from academia and industry in Belgium, and reported their findings in a recent paper for Science and Engineering Ethics. We spoke to Godecharle about the fact that most respondents admitted to engaging in at least one of the 22 items designated as misconduct — and why he thinks people in academia were more likely to ‘fess up than industry scientists.

Retraction Watch: You didn’t limit misconduct to fraud and plagiarism, and instead included problematic behaviors such as cutting corners to save time, gift authorship, and poor record-keeping. Still, you showed that 71% of respondents from academia and 61% of respondents from industry admitted to engaging in at least one of the 22 forms of misconduct. Did those numbers surprise you?

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Written by Alison McCook

January 30th, 2018 at 8:00 am

Author cops to “randomly” choosing data for figures in paper, colleagues say

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On April 17th, Mathieu Bollen, a researcher at KU Leuven in Belgium, received a notice from PubPeer: A paper he had published in 2013 appeared to have data duplications.

The article, “Maternal Embryonic Leucine Zipper Kinase (MELK) Reduces Replication Stress in Glioblastoma Cells,” published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, offered an explanation for why elevated levels of the MELK protein are associated with growth of a particular kind of brain tumor, glioblastoma. Several clinical trials are investigating MELK inhibitors as cancer treatments.

Bollen, the paper’s corresponding author, told Retraction Watch that one instance of image duplication, the inclusion of a gel-band from an unrelated experiment to represent a control, was “worrisome” but easily explainable:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

August 31st, 2017 at 8:00 am

Posted in belgium

Soon-to-be-ex-rector of top Belgium university blames coverage of misconduct case for ouster

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May was quite a month for Rik Torfs, the rector of a prominent university in Belgium. On May 9, Torfs lost his re-election campaign for rector of KU Leuven by a slim margin—out of more than 2100 votes, he lost by a mere 48. And just 20 days later, on May 29, Torfs wrote his final column for the Flemish daily newspaper De Standaard  — whom he believes was at least partly to blame for his election loss.

Specifically, it was the paper’s reporting on the university hospital’s (UZ Leuven) investigation into pediatric oncologist Stefaan Van Gool, which came just months before the election, that Torfs said he believes may have led to his ouster: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

June 26th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Quick: What does fish food have to do with X-rays? In this case, an Elsevier production error

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An MRI of a fish, not involved in this study. (via Wikimedia)

In 2012, a study claiming to show — after some intentional statistical tricks — that a dead salmon had brain activity in an fMRI won a prestigious (and hilarious) Ig Nobel Prize.

So five years later, when Bálint Botz tweeted wryly about a study of fish and plants in a radiology journal, we thought, “Aha, someone is trying to create another red herring!”

But alas, it turns out the reason a journal normally concerned with X-rays would suddenly be interested in aquaponics was far more prosaic: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 13th, 2017 at 11:30 am

It’s not just whistleblowers who deserve protection during misconduct investigations, say researchers

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Sven Hendrix

Lex Bouter

In 2010, the former PhD supervisor of Sven Hendrix, a neuroanatomist at Hasselt University in Belgium, was accused of misconduct. Although the allegations were eventually dropped, the experience was emotionally and professionally draining – and Hendrix wanted the research community to know about it. In 2015, he shared his story at a conference in Rotterdam; in the audience was Lex Bouter at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, who works on research integrity (and is co-chair of this year’s World Conference on Research Integrity [WCRI], happening now). Bouter invited Hendrix to write a paper with him. This month, Accountability in Research published “Both Whistle Blowers and the Scientists They Accuse are Vulnerable and Deserve Protection,” an abstract of which is being presented today at the WCRI. We spoke with Hendrix and Bouter about their paper.

Retraction Watch: The title of your paper kind of says it all. Can you say more about what prompted you to write it?

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Written by Alison McCook

May 29th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Star pediatric oncologist committed misconduct, ethical violations: reports

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Stefaan Van Gool

A high-profile pediatric oncologist quietly left his former institution in 2015 after it concluded his clinical trials had been affected by significant “administrative problems.” But now the results of the university’s investigations and what followed have become public, after a paper in Belgium published a series of news reports last month.

We’re still hazy on some details of the case. The recent news reports allege that Van Gool started some clinical trials without proper ethical approvals and informed consent, and may have misled patients and their families about the benefits and potential side effects of his experimental treatment. Meanwhile, the CEO University Hospitals Leuven (UZLeuven) told us that Stefaan Van Gool, who had appointments at both the hospital and the university (KULeuven), left the hospital in 2015 as a result of administrative problems, but did not disclose the specific nature of these issues.

For the past 15 years or so, Van Gool has been developing and studying a vaccine to treat various cancers, initially at UZLeuven and, after September 2015, at a private clinic in Germany. Today, patients travel to his private clinic from all over the world and pay tens of thousands of dollars to receive the vaccine. But according to Flemish daily newspaper De Standaard, several years ago, UZLeuven began investigating his research and patient care practices. The outcome of these investigations was kept private until last month, after De Standaard published its reports.

Marc Decramer, the CEO of UZLeuven, confirmed that Van Gool left the hospital in 2015 and the university in 2016, but did not provide the specific reasons for his exit:

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Written by Victoria Stern

April 5th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Philosopher earns 14th retraction for plagiarism

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978-1-4020-3001-7Today, we bring you a case of a serial plagiarizer.

Martin W. F. Stone was a philosophy professor at the University of Leuven — by one account “widely admired and highly respected” — until 2010, when an investigation at the school concluded that his work is “highly questionable in terms of scientific integrity.” Over the past several years, he has racked up retractions, earning his 14th this spring, and spot #30 on our leaderboard.

Stone’s retractions were brought to our attention by philosopher Michael Dougherty, who found a notice for “Michael Baius (1513–89) and the Debate on ‘Pure Nature’: Grace and Moral Agency in Sixteenth-Century Scholasticism,” a chapter in Springer’s Moral Philosophy on the Threshold of Modernity.

The retraction notice says that the chapter Read the rest of this entry »

Heart paper will go on, but only in the first of two journals it was published in

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Cardiovascular ResearchA cardiovascular group has retracted a conference proceeding abstract, because it too closely resembled a paper they published prior to the conference.

The last author is baffled as to why the journal couldn’t have made that call before they published the abstract.

Here’s the notice for “Increased beta-adrenergic inotropy in ventricular myocardium from Trpm4 knockout mice”: Read the rest of this entry »

Paper on liver failure in babies withdrawn for lab mix-up

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jpgnA paper on liver failure in infants has been retracted due to a lab error, though the author contends that the paper still holds a valuable message for pediatricians — one that could save lives.

To get to that, though, we had to make it through what turns out to be an unnecessarily vague retraction notice (more on that in a moment) in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition:
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