Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘uk retractions’ Category

No new math: Journal pulls math paper with “already known” results

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A mathematics journal has withdrawn a paper after discovering that the results were not new.

The paper, published online in March in Communications in Algebra, explored the properties of group rings, a discipline of algebra. According to editor-in-chief of the journal, Jason Bell, author Francis E. A. Johnson, a professor of mathematics at the University College London, devised a property associated with group rings, and defined it using the term “weakly finite.” But, at the time, Johnson was not aware that other experts had already defined the same property, using the term “stably finite.”

Bell, a professor of mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and Lance Small, the journal’s other editor-in-chief, stressed that this issue was “definitely not a matter of plagiarism.” Bell and Small told us in a joint statement that “it was ultimately no one’s fault—it is just one of these things that can happen occasionally in mathematics research.” But given the overlap, the editors thought it best to withdraw the paper, they said: Read the rest of this entry »

Quick: What does fish food have to do with X-rays? In this case, an Elsevier production error

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An MRI of a fish, not involved in this study. (via Wikimedia)

In 2012, a study claiming to show — after some intentional statistical tricks — that a dead salmon had brain activity in an fMRI won a prestigious (and hilarious) Ig Nobel Prize.

So five years later, when Bálint Botz tweeted wryly about a study of fish and plants in a radiology journal, we thought, “Aha, someone is trying to create another red herring!”

But alas, it turns out the reason a journal normally concerned with X-rays would suddenly be interested in aquaponics was far more prosaic: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 13th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Authors retract two plant biology papers over duplicated images

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Plant scientists have issued two retractions after noticing several images had been duplicated within and across the papers.

The papers both appeared in March 2002 in The Plant Cell and The Plant Journal.

The last author on both papers — Jonathan Jones, a professor and group leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK — took responsibility for the duplications. He told us:

As last author I was responsible for checking the papers but did not notice the similarities between figures in the different papers.  I regret this and took action as soon as I realized there was an issue. Both papers went through peer review and the issue was not picked up at that point either.

Susana Rivas, the first author on both papers, has collaborated with beleaguered plant scientist Oliver Voinnet — and was a second author on one of his eight retractions (which we covered here).

The editor-in-chief of TPJ Christoph Benning said that, after the authors contacted them, the journals looked into the issue, confirmed the duplications and then retracted the papers: Read the rest of this entry »

“Clumsy but genuine errors” prompt PNAS correction

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Some accidental mistakes have led researchers to issue a long correction to a 2016 PNAS paper.

According to the notice, when the cell biology paper’s corresponding authors became aware of duplications in two images, they immediately notified the journal and the University of Nottingham. After examining the original data archives, the university found that the authors generated the correct images, but the person who prepared the figures selected the wrong images from the data archive.

According to John Atherton, faculty pro-vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham in the UK, who oversaw the investigation: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

June 1st, 2017 at 9:30 am

Authors retract much-debated blockchain paper from F1000

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The authors of a popular — and heavily debated — F1000Research paper proposing a method to prevent scientific misconduct have decided to retract it.

The paper was initially criticized for allegedly plagiarizing from a graduate student’s blog — and revised to try to “rectify the overlap.” But according to F1000, it is now being retracted after an additional expert identified problems with the methodology.

Today, F1000 added this editorial note to the paper:

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Written by Alison McCook

May 24th, 2017 at 12:35 pm

PLOS upgrades flag on controversial PACE chronic fatigue syndrome trial; authors “surprised”

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PLOS ONE has issued an expression of concern after the authors of a controversial study about chronic fatigue syndrome declined to share some of their data.

In an unusual move, the journal included the authors’ response to the expression of concern (EOC), in which they strongly argue against the notice, and “do not accept that it is justified.”

In 2015, following public requests to review the data, the journal issued an “editor’s note” on the paper, noting the journal’s policy that authors make data and materials available.

There have been numerous requests for data from the “PACE” trial, as the clinical trial is known. Patients and advocates have long disputed the results, arguing that suggesting cognitive behavior and graded exercise therapy could cause harm.

In the latest notice, the journal says it consulted two editorial board members about the paper, a 2012 sub analysis of a controversial clinical trial on chronic fatigue syndrome. The journal then asked the authors to provide the data behind five tables, which would enable researchers to replicate the cost-effectiveness analyses the authors report for different therapies — including graded exercise therapy, which some patient advocates believe could be harmful.

As with previous requests for data, the authors refused to provide it, citing patient confidentiality and consent. The notice explains:

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Written by Alison McCook

May 2nd, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Three figures in blood pressure paper were manipulated, says journal

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A pharmacology journal has retracted a 2011 paper after concluding images in three figures had been manipulated.

According to the British Journal of Pharmacology, four of the five authors claim they played no role in the manipulation. There is no comment from the remaining author, first author Ian Morecroft, a research associate at the University of Glasgow.

Here’s more from the notice, which says an investigation at the University of Glasgow is ongoing:

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Once-prominent researcher logs retraction following misconduct finding

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A researcher who resigned from the University of Dundee in Scotland after it concluded he was guilty of misconduct has issued his first retraction.

According to an internal email to staff forwarded to us last year, the university concluded that Robert Ryan had misrepresented clinical data and images in 12 different publications. The first retraction, published by Molecular Microbiology, cites image duplications in multiple figures.

Here’s the full notice:

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The latest sting: Will predatory journals hire “Dr. Fraud”?

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Katarzyna Pisanski

From time to time, academics will devise a “sting” operation, designed to expose journals’ weaknesses. We’ve seen scientists submit a duplicated paper, a deeply flawed weight loss paper designed to generate splashy headlines (it worked), and an entirely fake paper – where even the author calls it a “pile of dung.” So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Katarzyna Pisanski at the University of Sussex and her colleagues found that so-called “predatory” journals – which are allegedly willing to publish subpar papers as long as the authors pay fees – often accepted a fake editor to join their team. In a new Nature Comment, Pisanski and her team (Piotr Sorokowski, Emek Kulczycki and Agnieszka Sorokowska) describe creating a profile of a fake scientist named Anna O. Szust (Oszust means “a fraud” in Polish). Despite the fact that Szust never published a single scholarly article and had no experience as a reviewer or editor, approximately one-third of predatory journals accepted Szust’s application as an editor. We spoke with Pisanski about the project.

Retraction Watch: What made you conceive of this project, and what did you hope to accomplish?

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Written by Alison McCook

March 22nd, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Headline-grabbing Science paper questioned by critics

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When zoologists at the University of Oxford published findings in Science last year suggesting ducklings can learn to identify shapes and colors without training (unlike other animals), the news media was entranced.

However, critics of the study have published a pair of papers questioning the findings, saying the data likely stem from chance alone. Still, the critics told us they don’t believe the findings should be retracted.

If a duckling is shown an image, can it pick out another from a set that has the same shape or color?  Antone Martinho III and Alex Kacelnik say yes. In one experiment, 32 out of 47 ducklings preferred pairs of shapes they were originally shown. In the second experiment, 45 out of 66 ducklings preferred the original color. The findings caught the attention of many media outlets, including the New York Times, The Atlantic, and BuzzFeed.

Martinho told us:

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Written by trevorlstokes

March 13th, 2017 at 11:30 am