Japanese university revokes PhD following a retraction

Tokyo Women’s Medical University has stripped a researcher of her PhD, following the retraction of a paper — for data duplication — that was based on her thesis.

The August 30th announcement notes that a degree was revoked on July 20. The announcement does not name the researcher, but refers to degree number 2881, which corresponds to Rika Nakayama’s PhD. The university describes carelessness and errors, but not misconduct.

Here’s a rough Google translation of the announcement: Continue reading Japanese university revokes PhD following a retraction

A year ago, an academic society recommended nine papers be retracted. Journals have retracted only two.

Last year, an academic society recommended that journals retract nine papers by a researcher in Japan who collaborated with a notorious fraudster. Only two have been retracted.

The researcher is Yuhji Saitoh of Yachiyo Medical Center and Tokyo Women’s Medical University, who co-authored many papers with Yoshitaka Fujii, an anethesiologist who holds the dubious distinction of having retracted more papers than any other. Already, Saitoh has retracted 39 papers, many of which were co-authored by Fujii. But it turns out Saitoh was not an entirely innocent bystander: After receiving allegations of misconduct, the Japanese Society of Anesthesiologists (JSA) investigated approximately 40 publications by Saitoh.  

The JSA investigation into Saitoh’s work was prompted, at least in part, by a 2016 analysis (that we covered) from two anesthesiologists— John Carlisle and John Loadsman—who examined dozens of Saitoh’s papers, 23 of which he didn’t write with Fujii. Carlisle and Loadsman identified several potential concerns with Saitoh’s work, including that it was unlikely the sampling had been conducted randomly.

Continue reading A year ago, an academic society recommended nine papers be retracted. Journals have retracted only two.

A university is revoking a student’s PhD — but not because of misconduct

Earlier this month, Tokushima University in Japan announced it was revoking a student’s PhD degree — but for a somewhat unusual reason.

The student didn’t appear to commit misconduct. Rather, the authors discovered a series of errors that invalidated the paper’s central conclusion.

The case has us wondering about how universities should respond when they discover some of a PhD student’s research is no longer valid — especially when there is no suspicion of misconduct.

Based on our Google translation of the more detailed description of what happened, the university concluded the problem was the result of the authors’ “simple mistakes:”

Continue reading A university is revoking a student’s PhD — but not because of misconduct

Prominent researcher dismissed following misconduct probe

Yoshinori Watanabe

The University of Tokyo has fired a high-profile cell biologist after a probe determined his group had falsified data.

According to a news release issued today (in Japanese), the university has issued a “disciplinary dismissal” of Yoshinori Watanabe (according to our Google translate of the notice).

In 2016, the institution began an investigation of seven papers from Watanabe’s lab after receiving anonymous allegations. In August 2017, the university announced the result: Five papers contained falsified or fabricated images. One — a 2015 Science paper — has already been retracted.

According to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, Watanabe has published more than 100 papers, which have been cumulatively cited thousands of times.

Last year, regarding the Science retraction, Watanabe told us:

Continue reading Prominent researcher dismissed following misconduct probe

How often do scientists who commit misconduct do it again?

Power law distribution of retraction ranking on the Retraction Watch leaderboard (via Toshio Kuroki)

When someone has to retract a paper for misconduct, what are the odds they will do it again? And how can we use that information to stop repeat offenders? Those are the questions that  Toshio Kuroki of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and Akira Ukawa of RIKEN set out to tackle in their new paper, appearing in Accountability in Research. Not surprisingly, they found that people with multiple retractions are more likely than others to have another — and when people have at least five retractions, the odds are significantly higher.

Retraction Watch: Why did you decide to examine the chances of researchers retracting additional papers?

Continue reading How often do scientists who commit misconduct do it again?

Stem cell paper falsification leads to firing; Nobelist also penalized

Shinya Yamanaka

Kyoto University has “punitively dismissed” a researcher found guilty of falsifying nearly all of the figures in a 2017 stem cell paper.  

According to an announcement Wednesday, the university fired the paper’s corresponding author, Kohei Yamamizu, after determining he had fabricated and falsified data in all but one figure in the 2017 Stem Cell Reports paper. The findings of the investigation, which were announced in January, found that Yamamizu, who worked at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), was the only person responsible for the manipulation.

But CiRA’s director, Shinya Yamanaka—who shared a Nobel Prize for his work in stem cell biology—has taken responsibility for the incident as well. In an official statement, Yamanaka said he felt “a strong responsibility for not having prevented research misconduct at our institute:”
Continue reading Stem cell paper falsification leads to firing; Nobelist also penalized

PNAS wouldn’t let authors cite unpublished manuscript. Now, it admits it was wrong.

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When researchers submitted a paper about a type of microparticle to PNAS, they wanted to give credit where it was due, and cite an unpublished manuscript that helped guide their work. But the journal’s policy forbid citing unpublished work, and the reference was removed before publication. Now, concerns from the authors of that unpublished work have prompted the journal to have a change of heart.  

Continue reading PNAS wouldn’t let authors cite unpublished manuscript. Now, it admits it was wrong.

Caught Our Notice: No retraction for “likely fraudulent” study

Title: Homocysteine as a predictive factor for hip fracture in elderly women with Parkinson’s disease

What Caught Our Attention:  In a letter to the editor, researchers led by Mark Bolland recently outlined the many reasons why a study by Yoshihiro Sato and colleagues in The American Journal of Medicine was “unreliable,” including evidence that the patient numbers were not achievable as described, and inconsistencies and errors in the study data. And let’s not forget a 2016 analysis (co-authored by Bolland) which cast doubt on Sato’s body of work, suggesting that more than 30 of his papers could be problematic. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: No retraction for “likely fraudulent” study

Researcher at Japan stem cell institute falsified nearly all images in 2017 paper

Shinya Yamanaka

An investigation by Kyoto University in Japan has found a researcher guilty of falsifying all but one of the figures in a 2017 stem cell paper.

Yesterday, Kyoto University announced that the paper’s first author, Kohei Yamamizu, had fabricated and falsified data in the Stem Cell Reports paper. According to the investigation report, none of the other authors were involved in the data manipulation.

Yamamizu works at the Center for iPS cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University, directed by Shinya Yamanaka, a Nobel Prize winner for his pioneering work in stem cell biology.

A spokesperson for the journal told us that the authors disclosed the problems last week and Stem Cell Reports will be retracting the paper, published last February.

In the university’s official statement, Yamanaka said: Continue reading Researcher at Japan stem cell institute falsified nearly all images in 2017 paper

University in Japan finds cancer researcher guilty of misconduct

A university in Japan has found a former professor guilty of falsifying and altering images in four published papers, including a 2014 paper about stem cells.

On Dec. 15, Tottori University announced the results of its misconduct investigation, in which the cancer researcher, Norimasa Miura, confessed to altering images in the four papers.

According to the report, which we translated, Miura resigned as associate professor at Tottori University a month before the investigation concluded in October of this year. Miura had already stopped receiving grant and research funding in May, one month into the six-month investigation. Continue reading University in Japan finds cancer researcher guilty of misconduct