Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘israel retractions’ Category

Post-publication peer review in action: Science flags paper just days after publication

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Science has issued an expression of concern for a widely covered materials science paper published on Friday, citing issues with the supplementary data.

The paper — which caught the attention of multiple news outlets — added properties to cotton fibers in vitro, potentially enabling researchers to manufacture fabric that can fluoresce or carry magnetic properties.

The move to issue an expression of concern was unusually quick. According to the journal, an expert who received the paper from a journalist under a media embargo contacted Science to flag issues in some of the supplementary data. At the time of this post, the paper does not yet have an entry on PubPeer.

Here’s the full expression of concern:

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“The paper is extremely flawed:” Journal retracts article linked to vaccines

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A journal has retracted a 2016 paper after receiving criticism from outside researchers who raised concerns about its methodology and data.

The paper shares multiple authors with another paper that linked the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) to behavioral problems in mice. Last year, a journal removed the study; later that year, the authors published a revised version in another journal. The latest retracted paper focuses on the antibodies present in a form of lupus.

Yehuda Shoenfeld at Tel-Aviv University in Israel, the corresponding author on both this latest retraction and the HPV vaccine paper, recently edited a textbook that explored how vaccines can induce autoimmunity in some people.  He told us the 2016 lupus paper does have a link to vaccines [his emphasis]:

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Journal corrects paper by researcher sanctioned for misconduct

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A biology journal has issued a correction to a 2014 paper by a researcher with 11 retractions, citing “inadvertent errors” that don’t affect the conclusions.

The researcher, Rony Seger, was recently sanctioned by his institution (The Weizmann Institute in Israel) following a finding of “serious misconduct” involving data manipulation. Specifically, the institute barred him from supervising graduate students, even future ones; his lab is now dedicated to replicating his previous work, with the help of a technician.

Last month, Michal Neeman, vice president of The Weizmann Institute of Science, told us she wasn’t sure how many additional papers by Seger would need to be retracted or corrected.

Recently, one more was revealed — in the August issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology, the following correction notice appears:

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Publisher won’t retract two papers, despite university’s request

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Jens Förster

Jens Förster, a high-profile social psychologist, has agreed to retract multiple papers following an institutional investigation — but has also fought to keep some papers intact. Recently, one publisher agreed with his appeal, and announced it would not retract two of his papers, despite the recommendation of his former employer.

Last month, the American Psychological Association (APA) announced it would not retract two papers co-authored by Förster, which the University of Amsterdam had recommended for retraction in May, 2015. The APA had followed the university’s advice last year and retracted two other papers, which Förster had agreed to as part of a settlement with the German Society for Psychology (DGPs). But after multiple appeals by Förster and his co-authors, the publisher has decided to retain the papers as part of the scientific record.

Many voices contributed to the discussion about these two papers — in November, 2016, the University of Amsterdam announced it was rejecting the appeal by another co-author on both papers, Nira Liberman, based at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The following month, Tel Aviv University announced that it believed the articles should not be retracted, based on its own internal review.

The APA reviewed the various recommendations, according to last month’s announcement:

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Weizmann bans grad students from researcher’s lab over “serious misconduct”

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Rony Seger

The Weizmann Institute in Israel has barred a biologist from mentoring graduate students, after an investigation uncovered ” a case of serious misconduct that included manipulation of data.”

In a letter posted on PubPeer, President Daniel Zajfman describes some of the disciplinary measures taken against an unnamed scientist, including also retracting or correcting all affected papers. Michal Neeman, vice president of The Weizmann Institute of Science, confirmed to us that the letter describes Rony Seger, a molecular biologist who has already retracted 11 papers.

Neeman told us the investigation was unable to determine who was responsible for the manipulations, but as the head of his lab, Seger was ultimately accountable:

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Written by Alison McCook

July 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Journal retracts nine papers in one day by author under investigation at the Weizmann Institute

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On April 27, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) retracted nine papers by a researcher based in Israel, including some dating back to 2000.

The reason: Image manipulation.

Michal Neeman, vice president of The Weizmann Institute of Science, told us that the researcher, Rony Seger, is under investigation following an allegation of misconduct affecting papers in multiple journals.

So far, we’ve found 11 retractions for papers by Seger, a molecular biologist. In the notices, the authors state they have “full confidence” in the findings, and in many instances have replicated the work.

According to Neeman:

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Can we do math unconsciously? Replicators of a prominent 2012 study have some doubts

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In 2012, news media were abuzz with a new finding from PNAS: Authors based in Israel had found evidence that our brains can unconsciously process more than we thought — including basic math and reading.  In other words, the authors claimed people could read and do math without even knowing what they were doing.

With such a major development in the field of consciousness research, other groups quickly got to work trying to replicate the findings. Those efforts have taken some twists and turns — including a recent retraction of a replication paper that was, itself, not reproducible (which is not something we see every day). But overall, five years after the initial, remarkable result, the replication efforts are calling it into question.

According to Pieter Moors at KU Leuven, a researcher in this field:

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Most citations to retracted papers don’t note they’re problematic, authors say

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Gali Halevi

We’ve known for a while that too many researchers cite retracted papers. But in what context do those citations occur? Are some authors citing a retracted paper as an example of problematic findings, or do most citing authors treat the findings as legitimate, failing to realize they are no longer valid? In a new paper in Scientometrics, Gali Halevi at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Judit Bar-Ilan at Bar-Ilan University in Israel examined citations to 15 papers retracted in 2014. Halevi told us why she was surprised to see how many authors don’t realize retracted papers are problematic, and what the publishing community can do to get the word out.

Retraction Watch: We’ve noticed that many papers are cited long after being retracted, without notifying readers the paper is problematic. You looked at citations to retracted papers and tracked how the citing authors described the paper – noting that its findings were problematic given the retraction (negative), or treating the findings as legitimate research that affirms the newer paper’s results (positive). The vast majority of post-retraction citations – 83% — were positive. Did that surprise you?

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Written by Alison McCook

April 5th, 2017 at 9:30 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:

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Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 24th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Physics journal pulls two papers for data shortcuts

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New Journal of PhysicsA publisher is retracting two papers today by a team of physicists who took a short cut in reporting their data.

The papers present a method for imaging very small things — like biological processes on a molecular scale — that could be an alternative to electron microscopy, as the authors explain in a video. But after the papers were published in the New Journal of Physics, last author Ulf Leonhardt, now based at the Weizmann Institute of Science, found out that some of the data

 were pixel-by-pixel mirror-symmetric, which is impossible for genuine experimental data.

One of the researchers co-authored a subsequent paper that acknowledges one of the papers incorrectly assumed the data were symmetrical, and could therefore be extrapolated from one side to the other. A representative of the publisher told us they have not seen any signs of misconduct, and the problem seemed to result from a “series of apparent miscommunications between the authors.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Evidence for subwavelength imaging with positive refraction:” Read the rest of this entry »