Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘switzerland’ Category

Researcher loses biotech post after reportedly confessing to fraud

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A researcher has lost his position as a Chief Scientific Officer at a DNA sequencing company after he reportedly confessed to fabricating data in a 2015 paper, now retracted by the Journal of Cell Biology.

According to the CEO of Karmagenes, when the company learned about the retraction, the staff “immediately” conferred and decided the researcher — Pranav Ullal — should no longer serve as one of the company’s two CSOs.

Karmagenes CEO Kyriakos Kokkoris told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

February 22nd, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Former postdoc admitted to fraud in cell bio paper, lead author says

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A researcher in Switzerland has retracted her 2015 paper in the Journal of Cell Biology, saying the first author — her former postdoc — admitted to fabricating multiple aspects of the paper.

After Sophie Martin of the University of Lausanne couldn’t reproduce the data from another manuscript she was preparing to submit, she contacted her former student, Pranav Ullal, who admitted he had fabricated the data, along with two figures in the JCB paper.

A spokesperson for the University of Lausanne told us that Ullal left Switzerland after his contract was over, and is now in India.

Martin told us the whole experience has been upsetting:

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Written by Alison McCook

February 21st, 2017 at 11:30 am

Got “significosis?” Here are the five diseases of academic publishing

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John Antonakis

John Antonakis is psychologist by training, but his research has run the gamut from showing kids accurately predict election outcomes just by looking at candidates’ faces to teaching charisma to people in leadership positions. Now, as the newly appointed editor of The Leadership Quarterly, he’s tackling problems in academic publishing. But his approach is somewhat unique – he sees these problems as diseases (ie, “significosis”) that threaten the well-being of the academic literature. In a new paper, he’s calling on the efforts of researchers, editors, and funders to prevent, diagnose, and treat the five diseases of academic publishing.

Retraction Watch: What prompted you to think about problems in science publishing in terms of diseases? 

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Written by Alison McCook

February 21st, 2017 at 8:00 am

Swiss, French institutions investigating several papers

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eth-zurichcnrsInstitutions in France and Switzerland are investigating figures in several molecular biology papers, according to a joint press release published today.

Unfortunately, theres not much more we can tell you about the investigation — the press release doesnt specify the names of researchers, journals, or even the area within molecular biology thats under scrutiny.

The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France will lead the inquiry, with contribution from ETH Zürich in Switzerland. Molecular biology researchers from both institutions were involved in the flagged publications, an ETH Zürich spokesperson told us.

The ETH Zürich spokesperson added: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

September 8th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Should systematic reviewers report suspected misconduct?

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BMJ Open

Authors of systematic review articles sometimes overlook misconduct and conflicts of interest present in the research they are analyzing, according to a recent study published in BMJ Open.

During the study, researchers reviewed 118 systematic reviews published in 2013 in four high-profile medical journals — Annals of Internal Medicine, the British Medical Journal, The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet. In addition, the authors contacted review authors to ask additional questions; 80 (69%) responded. The review included whether the authors had followed certain procedures to ensure the integrity of the data they were compiling, such as checking for duplicate publications, and analyzing if the authors’ conflicts of interest may have impacted the findings. 

Carrying out a systematic review involves collecting and critically analyzing multiple studies in the same area. It’s especially useful for accumulating and weighing conflicting or supporting evidence by multiple research groups. A byproduct of the process is that it can also help spot odd practices such duplication of publicationsRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 16th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Beleaguered plant scientist with 22 corrections avoids 3 more

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CellCell will not be issuing corrections for three papers co-authored by prominent plant biologist Olivier Voinnet, after readers on PubPeer raised questions about some of the images. 

The news may be a welcome relief for Voinnet, based at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, who has recently issued 22 corrections and seven retractions. Ongoing questions about his work have also earned him a three-year funding ban, and caused the European Molecular Biology Organization to revoke an award.

On July 28, Cell published editorial notes for all three papers, which have been collectively cited more than 1000 times (also reported by Leonid Schneider). The notes say that the journal will take “no further action,” noting that the authors of the papers informed Cell of the problems with figures, which do not appear to compromise the papers’ overall validity.  

Here’s the first editorial notefor a 1998 paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 9th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Biologist critiques own paper, journal retracts it — against her wishes

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Evolution Cover ImageThe journal Evolution has retracted a 2007 paper about the roles of the different sexes in searching for mates, after the same author critiqued the work in a later paper. 

The case raises important questions about when retractions are appropriate, and whether they can have a chilling effect on scientific discourse. Although Hanna Kokko of the University of Zurich, Switzerland — who co-authored both papers — agreed that the academic literature needed to be corrected, she didn’t want to retract the earlier paper; the journal imposed that course of action, said Kokko

Let’s take a look at the retraction note: Read the rest of this entry »

Plant scientist Voinnet’s correction count grows to 22

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nature structure molecular biologyWe have found another correction for high-profile plant scientist Olivier Voinnet, bringing his total count to 22. Voinnet, who works at ETH Zurich, also has seven retractions, a funding ban, and a revoked award.

Voinnet’s most recent corrections involve problems with figures; the same issue is cited in this latest correction notice, for “Competition for XPO5 binding between Dicer mRNA, pre-miRNA and viral RNA regulates human Dicer levels.”

The correction notice in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, issued earlier this year, explains:

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Communications researcher loses two book chapters, investigated for plagiarism

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BrillA researcher who studies how others communicate is struggling with his own communications: Peter J. Schulz has lost two book chapters for misappropriating the work of others, and is under investigation by his university.

Although the publisher believes the errors were unintentional, the retractions have prompted it to stop selling the books altogether.

Schulz now has a total of three retractions and one erratum for failing to properly cite other works. The University of Lugano in Switzerland, where he is based, told us they’re investigating allegations of plagiarism against him.

Both of the chapters that were recently retracted appear in books published by Brill. The retraction notes say the same thing:

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Written by Shannon Palus

April 18th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Authors used wrong dataset in study on shock therapy, exercise in depression

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J psych resA psychiatric journal has pulled a 2014 paper that found electroconvulsive therapy and exercise helped people with depression, after the authors determined they had mistakenly analyzed the wrong data.

According to the retraction notice from the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the researchers had “erroneously analyzed” data from a previous study they had published the year before.

Here’s more from the note for “Electroconvulsive therapy and aerobic exercise training increased BDNF and ameliorated depressive symptoms in patients suffering from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder:” Read the rest of this entry »