Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘canada’ Category

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A paper describing the construction of a material that could be used in nuclear fuel containers has been retracted after the authors left out key details.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

Read the rest of this entry »

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 He didn’t want to spoof another predatory journal by submitting a fake article (his last one was retracted in 2016 after he told the publisher it was a “pile of dung”).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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Retracted paper linking HPV vaccine to behavioral issues republished after revisions

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immunological-researchA retracted study linking the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) to behavioral problems in mice has been republished by a different journal.

The paper has been significantly revised, an author told us, but it still comes the same conclusions. 

In February, the journal Vaccine temporarily removed the study without explanation, and told the authors the editor had asked for further review. Later that month, Vaccine retracted the paper, citing “serious concerns regarding the scientific soundness of the article,” and “seriously flawed” methodology. 

In July, another journal — Immunologic Research — republished the paper. The new version of the paper has been significantly changed, co-author Christopher Shaw from the University of British Columbia (UBC) told Retraction Watch:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 24th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Author asks to retract nearly 20-year old paper over figure questions, lack of data

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journal-of-biological-chemistryThe last author of a 1999 paper has asked the journal to retract it less than one month after a user raised questions about images on PubPeer.

Yesterday, last author Jim Woodgett posted a note on the site saying the author who generated the figures in question could not find the original data, and since he agreed the images appeared “suspicious,” he had contacted the journal to retract the paper.

Here’s the note from Woodgett, based at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum
Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto: Read the rest of this entry »

How can we improve preclinical research? Advice from a diabetes researcher

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Daniel Drucker

Daniel Drucker

By all accounts, science is facing a crisis: Too many preclinical studies aren’t reproducible, leading to wasted time and effort by researchers around the world. Today in Cell Metabolism, Daniel Drucker at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto details numerous ways to make this early research more robust. His most important advice: more transparent reporting of all results (not just the positive findings), along with quantifying, reporting, tracking, and rewarding reproducibility, for both scientists and journals and universities/research institutes.

Retraction Watch: Which of your recommendations will researchers most object to, and why? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 13th, 2016 at 12:05 pm