Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘italy retractions’ Category

Mystery: A bullet with no entry wound, in a paper with no spell check?

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world emergency surgeryThe Patient, a 60-years old Caucasian male found unconscious in a trailer park of gypsies…”

So begins a strange — and apparently not copyedited — new case report in the World Journal of Emergency Surgery. The paper concerns a patient — perhaps we should call him Rasputin — who showed up with a bullet in his left lung but no entry wound that would explain its presence.

Naturally, the authors draw the obvious conclusions:

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Written by Alison McCook

November 23rd, 2015 at 9:30 am

Mol bio paper pulled by PLOS following investigation into figures

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Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.58.47 AMPLOS Biology has retracted a paper about the molecular details of β-catenin expression following an investigation by the first author’s institution in Italy.

The investigation, by the Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, found that there were multiple “figure anomalies.” According to the note:

An explanation of inadvertent error was given for some of the issues identified, while for two issues, a satisfactory explanation could not be provided.

First author Roberto Gherzi says none of his co-authors helped prepare the figures. The authors maintain that the conclusions are unaffected, but that assurance wasn’t enough for the journal. Here’s more from the lengthy retraction note, which provides some backstory on the “serious concerns” regarding the data:

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Serial plagiarist’s retractions upped to 14

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We’ve done some digging, run the numbers, and present to you a new member of our leaderbcov200hoard: orthopedic researcher Bernardino Saccomanni. Nine newly unearthed retractions of his make for a total of 14.

We first reported on Saccomanni’s work back in 2011, and identified him as a “serial plagiarist.” In the years since, he’s continued to rack up retractions for papers on the likes of ligament reconstruction and shoulder pain. On every paper, he is listed as the sole author.

Bernardino Saccomanni’s most recently listed affiliation on the papers is “Ambulatorio di Ortopedia, via della Conciliazione.” He sometimes also lists his affiliation as Gabriele D’ Annunzio University Chieti, even though, as we learned a few years ago, he hasn’t worked there for many years.

There’s a lot to cover here, so stick with us:

1) First up, “A new test for acromio-clavicolar pathology” was published in the Journal of Clinical Orthopedics and Trauma and cited zero times according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the retraction note:

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Authors defend publishing clinical trial six times, even as they earn two more retractions

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Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 12.14.06 PMIn August, we reported on a clinical trial on hundreds of hypertensive patients that was published six times. Now, copies published in Expert Opinion on Drug Safety and Journal of the American Society of Hypertension (JASH) have been retracted, making for a total of three retractions for the group of papers.

The authors have defended the papers as being decidedly “different,” but one of the latest retraction notes points to an earlier retraction by some of the same authors (including first author Giuseppe Derosa, at the University of Pavia in Italy) for publishing two papers that “contain considerable text that is duplicative.”

Inflammation editor in chief Bruce Cronstein, who retracted one of the six duplicated papers from the clinical trial, told us in August that he and the editors of the other journals were all contacted “en masse” by an author doing a Cochrane Review on hypertension, who noticed that all six papers were “nearly identical.”

Just recently, we received a statement from the authors — sent by corresponding author Derosa — which argued that even if six papers stem from one trial, each was decidedly “different:”

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Where I think Retraction Watch went wrong: A guest post from Paolo Macchiarini

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Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini

We are pleased to present a guest post by Paolo Macchiarini, a surgeon best known for pioneering the creation of tracheas from cadavers and patients’ own stem cells. Macchiarini has faced some harsh criticisms over the years, including accusations of downplaying the risks of the procedure and not obtaining proper consent. We have covered the investigation, including the recent verdict by Karolinska Institutet that he acted “without due care,” but was not guilty of misconduct. He has taken issue with some aspects of our coverage, and has written a guest post to present his side of the story. We welcome such debate, and have included a short response at the end of his post.

I admire the underlying aims of Retraction Watch.  That might come as a surprise to some readers of the site, given that it has a whole page devoted to me in its archives.  However, I believe passionately that scientific misconduct is a serious crime.  It not only undermines the very purpose of science, but has victims as well, especially in clinical specialisms.  It is vital that misconduct is detected, that fraudulent work is retracted and those retractions made public.  That is why I support Retraction Watch’s aims.  But I am not writing in wholehearted support of the site. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 9th, 2015 at 9:30 am

“Exactly the same clinical study” published six times

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4A group of researchers conducted a clinical trial on hundreds of hypertensive patients. Then, they published the results…six times.

The “nearly identical” papers came to our attention via a retraction in Inflammation. Editor in chief Bruce Cronstein explained how he learned of the mass duplication:

The editors were contacted en masse by somebody doing a Cochrane Review on hypertension and who noticed that the content of the 6 papers was nearly identical.  Frankly, not one of us would have noticed otherwise.

Another of those papers, in the European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has also been retracted. That note is similar to the retraction notice for the Inflammation paper, both of which have been cited twice:

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Investigation triggers retraction for biochem paper

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PLOS BiologyA paper has been retracted from PLOS Biology for duplicating lanes and incorporating others that “came from an unrelated experiment that had already been published.”

According to the retraction notice, first author Laura Cerchia says that the mistakes came “as a consequence of incorrect incorporation of representative blots.” Cerchia — along with her supervisor, study author Vittorio de Franciscis — apologizes for this.” None of the other authors were “involved in the preparation of these figures, and there is no concern about the results that they contributed.”

Cerchia maintains that the paper’s conclusions are still valid, but the remaining authors write that the issues undermines their confidence in the results. According to the notice, the retraction is a result of “an institutional inquiry” at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) in Rome, where Cerchia and de Franciscis are both based.

The notice tells the rest of the story:

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Macchiarini co-author objects to investigation’s misconduct verdict

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Paolo Macchiarini

One of Paolo Macchiarini’s co-authors on a 2011 Lancet paper describing an allegedly groundbreaking procedure to transplant an artificial trachea seeded with stem cells is objecting to a recent investigation that concluded Macchiarini had committed misconduct.

Ola Hermanson, who studies neural stem cells at Karolinska Institutet, argued in a report dated June 29 that the investigation contained “serious flaws and formal errors.”

Hermanson’s lengthy response (uploaded here except for supporting emails) is to the findings of an external review of allegations about Macchiarini’s work, conducted by Bengt Gerdin, of Uppsala University. In regards to the 2011 Lancet paper, Gerdin’s investigation found:

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Written by Alison McCook

July 1st, 2015 at 8:30 am

Cell Press investigating possible image manipulation in influential yeast genetics paper

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cellCell Press is looking into anonymous allegations that a pair of influential papers on gene activation in yeast may contain more than two dozen instances of image manipulation, according to a spokesperson for the journal.

The accusations first appeared in March on PubPeer, where they triggered a small avalanche of comments, including one asserting “unambiguous and repeated examples of data re-use.”

The concerns raised on PubPeer have even sparked an investigation by an institution in Spain, which found no evidence to support the allegations. But not everyone agrees with that verdict.

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Misconduct found in 7 papers by Macchiarini, says English write-up of investigation

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Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini

The Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has released an English translation of an external review that found Paolo Macchiarini, a celebrated surgeon who is credited with creating tracheas from cadavers and patients’ own stem cells, committed misconduct in a series of papers describing the work.

You can read the entire report, news of which was first reported by Sciencehere. The investigator, Bengt Gerdin, of Uppsala University, considered a series of allegations about Macchiarini’s papers, and found a number of them lived up to the verdict of misconduct. There were seven affected papers, not six, as was reported last week based on the initial findings (reported in Swedish).

For instance, in a 2014 Nature Communications paper describing the procedure in rats, Gerdin found that the scientists erred when none of the listed authors could assume responsibility for a CT image showing rats with “a smooth and patent oesophagus” (the researcher who took it asked to be left off the author list when he disagreed with how it was being interpreted), among other issues: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 28th, 2015 at 8:30 am