Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘canada’ Category

“A Course In Deception:” Scientist’s novel takes on research misconduct

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Jana Rieger

Jana Rieger is a researcher in Edmonton, Alberta. And now, she’s also a novelist. Her new book, “A Course in Deception,” draws on her experiences in science, and weaves a tale of how greed and pressures to publish can lead to even worse outcomes than the sort we write about at Retraction Watch. We interviewed Rieger about the novel.

Retraction Watch (RW): You tell the book from the point of a view of a fictional first-person narrator, a sleep researcher in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. You, too, are a researcher in Edmonton. Is there any Jana Rieger in Mackenzie Smith? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 29th, 2017 at 2:00 pm

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Nature paper adds non-reproducibility to its list of woes

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Despite taking some serious hits, a 2006 letter in Nature isn’t going anywhere.

Years ago, a university committee determined that two figures in the letter had been falsified. The journal chose to correct the paper, rather than retract it — and then, the next year, published a correction of that correction due to “an error in the production process.” To round it out, in June of last year, Nature published a rebuttal from a separate research group, who had failed to replicate the letter’s results.

Still, the first author told us there are no plans to retract the paper, since the follow up experiments published in the corrections confirmed the paper’s conclusions.

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Written by Cat Ferguson

March 21st, 2017 at 9:30 am

A new reproducibility fix? Get your work checked before it’s published

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Jeffrey Mogil

Malcolm Macleod

Most researchers by now recognize there’s a reproducibility crisis facing science. But what to do about it? Today in Nature, Jeffrey S. Mogil at McGill University and Malcolm R. Macleod at the University of Edinburgh propose a new approach: Restructure the reporting of preclinical research to include an extra “confirmatory study” performed by an independent lab, which verifies the findings before they are published. We spoke with them about how this could work.

Retraction Watch: You’re proposing to restructure animal studies of new therapies or ways to prevent disease. Can you explain what this new type of study should look like, and how researchers will execute it?

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Written by Alison McCook

February 22nd, 2017 at 9:41 am

How did a book chapter end up with two authors who didn’t contribute to it?

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An erratum for a book chapter about water pollution has removed two out of the three original authors. 

What’s more, the notice specifies that “any mistakes or omissions are the sole responsibility” of the remaining author, Michael Yodzis of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. 

This isn’t something we see every day, but one of the removed authors told us he believes the paper is scientifically valid — he just didn’t have anything to do with it. Yodzis told us he included the two authors by mistake, after believing he had corresponded with them about the paper, which was an extension of their previous work together.

Here’s the erratum, issued in December: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

February 1st, 2017 at 9:30 am

Nuclear fuel container material isn’t as novel as it appeared in now-retracted paper

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A layer of copper sprayed onto steel. (Figure 6 from “Structure and Mechanical Properties of Thick Copper Coating Made by Cold Spray“)

A paper describing the construction of a material that could be used in nuclear fuel containers has been retracted after the authors left out key details.

According to the editor, the omission made the authors’ method seem more novel than it was.

The material is described in “Structure and Mechanical Properties of Thick Copper Coating Made by Cold Spray.” It was published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Thermal Spray Technology.

According to the retraction notice, the authors did not specify in the paper how the first layer of copper was sprayed onto the steel:

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For this fake editorial, “merit of artistic writing” was enough for publication

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Logo for Intellectual Consortium of Drug Discovery and Technology Development, Inc.

While we are often among the first to chuckle at a good sting of a predatory publisher, there have probably been enough of them by now to have made the point.

And even Ottawa Citizen reporter Tom Spears — whose stings have been among the most hilarious — seems to agree. He didn’t want to spoof another predatory journal by submitting a fake article (his last one was retracted in 2016 after he told the publisher it was a “pile of dung”). But when an invitation came towards the end of November, he just couldn’t help himself.

The invitation was from Intellectual Consortium of Drug Discovery and Technology Development, Inc. — often just called “Consortium” — to be on its editorial board. Too curious to resist, Spears accepted. Then, he was told, he had to write an editorial.

So one night in December, he sat down and wrote something connecting predatory-prey relationships in nature to predatory publishing — calling out the publisher along the way. Spears told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

January 5th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Prominent cancer researcher committed nearly 30 acts of misconduct

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An investigation into the lab of a prominent cancer researcher in British Columbia has revealed nearly 30 acts of misconduct.   

As we detail in our latest feature for Science, the investigation, at the University of British Columbia (UBC), uncovered 29 instances of scientific misconduct, 16 of which were characterized as “serious,” according to university correspondence obtained by Retraction Watch.

The researcher, Sandra Dunn, is prominent in her field, but she left UBC in 2015 under unclear circumstances, shortly after it concluded its investigation. Dunn now heads a private company, Phoenix Molecular Designs, which says it develops therapies for cancer patients and lists local charities among its “partners and supporters.” While at UBC, Dunn obtained at least $1.1 million dollars in Canadian federal funding, some of which was used to support the falsified studies.

To some of the people involved, the most unsettling part of the incident is that it appears Dunn still receives support from Canadian charities. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ana Komnenic

December 14th, 2016 at 10:05 am

Surprise! Paper retracted after author tells journal it’s a “pile of dung”

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journal-of-clinical-research-bioethics-logoThis summer, Ottawa Citizen reporter Tom Spears was sitting by a lake on vacation when he opened a spam email from a publisher. Amused to see the sender was a journal focused on bioethics, he got an idea.

I thought, what if I just throw something outrageous at them?

The situation should sound familiar to readers who follow such “sting” operations: Spears submitted a fake paper to the so-called “predatory” journal, it was accepted one month later with no changes, and published.

But after Spears submitted a comment on the paper saying it was “a steaming pile of dung from start to meaningless finish” (which the journal never posted), wrote an article about it (picked up by other outlets, including The Huffington Post Canada) — surprise, surprise! — the paper was retracted.

Most authors don’t celebrate retractions. But Spears told us he felt “sheer triumph:”  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

November 30th, 2016 at 9:30 am

We are judging individuals and institutions unfairly. Here’s what needs to change.

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Yves Gingras

Yves Gingras

The way we rank individuals and institutions simply does not work, argues Yves Gingras, Canada Research Chair in the History and Sociology of Science, based at the University of Quebec in Montreal. He should know: In 1997, he cofounded the Observatoire des sciences et des technologies, which measures innovation in science and technology, and where he is now scientific director. In 2014, he wrote a book detailing the problems with our current ranking system, which has now been translated into English. Below, he shares some of his conclusions from “Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation: Uses and Abuses.”

Retraction Watch: You equate modern bibliometric rankings of academic performance to the fable about the Emperor’s New Clothes, in which no one dares to tell a leader that he is not wearing an invisible suit – rather, he is naked. Why did you choose that metaphor? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

November 8th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Prominent heart researcher dismissed by Ontario university; colleagues appeal

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karmazyn1

Morris Karmazyn

Earlier this month, Morris Karmazyn, an award-winning cardiovascular researcher who’s published hundreds of papers, was called into a meeting with the office of faculty relations at the University of Western Ontario, and terminated.

The reason? A series of image problems in some of his papers, raised by a former member of his lab. When Karmazyn, Canada Research Chair in Experimental Cardiology, was told it was a case of “misconduct,” he was floored: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 27th, 2016 at 10:40 am