Graduate student in China stripped of PhD after investigation that led to a dozen retractions

On Friday we reported on the case of a group of researchers in China who have retracted at least 11 papers for various kinds of misconduct. Here’s a bit more on that story, courtesy of our commenters.

First, it turns out that the retraction total is at least 12. But more significant is that the institution in question, Tsinghua University’s Graduate School at Shenzhen, announced yesterday that it had stripped one of the researchers involved in the studies of his PhD and sanctioned another in the matter. Continue reading Graduate student in China stripped of PhD after investigation that led to a dozen retractions

Group in China earns nearly a dozen retractions for image duplication, forged authorship, and more

A group of materials scientists in China has earned 11 retractions and three corrections — so far — for image manipulation, duplication, deceptive authorship and other misconduct.

The papers, from a group at the prestigious Tsinghua University, appeared in a variety of materials journals and date back to 2014. The most recent publications arrived in 2016.

[Please see an update on this post.]

The notices read pretty much the same way. Here, for example, is the retraction statement for “Effects of high-energy electro-pulsing treatment on microstructure, mechanical properties and corrosion behavior of Ti–6Al–4V alloy,” which was published in 2015 in Materials Science and Engineering C, an Elsevier title: Continue reading Group in China earns nearly a dozen retractions for image duplication, forged authorship, and more

“Sufficiently serious” issues in study prompt company to yank drug approval application in China

The maker of a leading over-the-counter antacid has withdrawn its application for approval of the drug in China because a clinical trial of the product in that country was marred by “major protocol deviations.”

Researchers for the company, Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Gaviscon, had published a report on the study in 2015 in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. But the journal has now retracted the article, “Randomised clinical trial: The clinical efficacy and safety of an alginate‐antacid (Gaviscon Double Action) versus placebo, for decreasing upper gastrointestinal symptoms in symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in China,” at the behest of the drug maker.

According to the notice: Continue reading “Sufficiently serious” issues in study prompt company to yank drug approval application in China

“Irreconcilable” differences about author order, other issues topple two articles in Spandidos journal

Researchers in China have retracted a pair of papers in the same journal after running into “irreconcilable” differences with the articles.

Both articles appeared in Molecular Medicine Reports, from Spandidos.

One article, “Combined treatment with extracorporeal shock‑wave therapy and bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell transplantation improves bone repair in a rabbit model of bone nonunion,” published in November 2017, suffered from, well, serious nonunion: Continue reading “Irreconcilable” differences about author order, other issues topple two articles in Spandidos journal

Persistence pays off for plagiarized author: emails spur retraction, sanctions against researcher

Note: This post has been updated.

Here’s an object lesson for scientists who find out they’ve been ripped off by other researchers: Taking matters into your own hands can produce results.  

An aggrieved author’s doggedness led to the retraction of a 2013 paper that plagiarized his work, along with the revocation of a doctoral degree by one of the scientists responsible for the theft and sanctions against another.

We don’t often get the blow-by-blow, but in this case we have the details to share. The story begins in early 2017, when Andrew Boyle, a professor of cardiac medicine at the University of Newcastle, in Australia, noticed something fishy in an article, “Cathepsin B inhibition attenuates cardiac dysfunction and remodeling following myocardial infarction by inhibiting the NLRP3 pathway.” The paper had appeared in a journal called Molecular Medicine Reports, from Spandidos.

The article, published by a group from Shandong Provincial Hospital, contained a pair of figures that Boyle recognized from his 2005 article in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. One of the images had been altered, but the other was a patent duplication.

Boyle explained that: Continue reading Persistence pays off for plagiarized author: emails spur retraction, sanctions against researcher

Hey journals, it is possible to quickly correct the record

Even when a paper is obviously flawed, it can take years for journals to take action. Some never do. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

On April 27, a reader emailed the editors of two journals, noting that each had recently published a paper by the same group of authors that appeared strikingly similar.

Four days later, on May 1, a representative at Medicine, the journal that published the most recent version of the paper, wrote the reader back, saying the paper was going to be retracted.

Continue reading Hey journals, it is possible to quickly correct the record

Now-retracted chem paper’s problems “should have been noticed by the referees,” group says

Last year, chemist Marcus Tius at the University of Hawaii saw a paper describing the synthesis of some organic compounds, and was “struck by the implausibility” of the reported structures. So he joined up with some colleagues to try to replicate the data.

While Tius and his team were trying to repeat the experiment, however, in December 2017 the journal — Organic Letters — retracted the paper. The journal, published by the American Chemical Society, noted that the authors had not been able to produce crystal structures that confirm they had synthesized those compounds in particular. So Tius and his colleagues knew they couldn’t replicate the findings — but carried on their experiment anyway:

Continue reading Now-retracted chem paper’s problems “should have been noticed by the referees,” group says

Caught Our Notice: Forged email for corresponding author dooms diabetes paper

Title: Naringin Alleviates Diabetic Kidney Disease through Inhibiting Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Reaction

What Caught Our Attention: PLOS ONE had a few reasons for retracting a 2015 paper about a treatment for kidney disease due to diabetes: For one, despite what the paper claims, the authors did not obtain ethical approval to conduct the reported animal experiments. In addition, the corresponding author had no idea the paper had been submitted and published. How could a corresponding author be kept in the dark? It turns out, the journal was given an incorrect email address for him, so he didn’t receive any communications around the paper. (One author apparently used a third party editing company.) Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Forged email for corresponding author dooms diabetes paper

Caught Our Notice: 54 problems in three scientific images equals one expression of concern

Title: Effects of microRNA-223 on morphine analgesic tolerance by targeting NLRP3 in a rat model of neuropathic pain

What Caught Our Attention: Usually, an Expression of Concern (EOC) offers general language about “concerns regarding the validity of the data” or “concerns regarding the integrity of the study.” Here the language is anything but, saying that 54 Western blot bands within three figures have problems such as “visible pasted joints,” “square border,” and numerous “appear to be the same band.”  According to the notice, the authors have not responded to requests for the original blots, so the editors are allowing the article to remain intact, choosing instead “to alert readers to these issues and allow them to arrive at their own conclusions regarding the figures.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: 54 problems in three scientific images equals one expression of concern

Caught Our Notice: Duplicates, errors prompt two retractions for same author

Titles: 1) Angiopoietin-Like 4 Confers Resistance to Hypoxia/Serum Deprivation-Induced Apoptosis through PI3K/Akt and ERK1/2 Signaling Pathways in Mesenchymal Stem Cells

2) Novel Mechanism of Inhibition of Dendritic Cells Maturation by Mesenchymal Stem Cells via Interleukin-10 and the JAK1/STAT3 Signaling Pathway

What Caught Our Attention: In the span of 48 hours, PLOS ONE retracted two papers this month that were co-authored by Bo Yu, based at Key Laboratories of Education Ministry for Myocardial Ischemia Mechanism and Treatment and The Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University in China. Both notices cite multiple duplications and errors, and conclude:

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Duplicates, errors prompt two retractions for same author