Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘uk retractions’ Category

Physics journal retracts paper without alerting author

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An Elsevier journal has angered an author by removing his study without telling him.

After spending months asking the journal why it removed the paper — about a heavily debated theorem in physics — and getting no response, the author threatened to seek damages from the journal and publisher for “permanently stigmatizing” his work. Yesterday, an Elsevier representative told the author what happened: Experts told the journal the paper had a major mistake, so the journal decided to withdraw the study, but failed to tell the author due to an “internal error.”

That explanation didn’t satisfy study author Joy Christian, scientific director of the Einstein Centre for Local-Realistic Physics in Oxford, UK, who has demanded the journal either republish the article or remove it and return the copyright to him, or he will pursue legal action.

Here’s the cryptic publisher’s note for “Local causality in a Friedmann–Robertson–Walker spacetime:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

September 30th, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Error in one line of code sinks cancer study

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journl-of-clinical-oncologyAuthors of a 2016 cancer paper have retracted it after finding an error in one line of code in the program used to calculate some of the results.

Sarah Darby, last author of the now-retracted paper from the University of Oxford, UK, told Retraction Watch that the mistake was made by a doctoral student. When the error was realized, Darby said, she contacted the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), explained the issue, and asked whether they would prefer a retraction or a correction. JCO wanted a retraction, and she complied.

The journal allowed the authors to publish a correspondence article outlining their new results.

Here’s the lengthy retraction notice, published online last month: Read the rest of this entry »

Despite apology, bagpipes study not slated for retraction

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It’s not often that a paper elicits an apology — but that’s just what happened when family members first learned a bagpipe musician died from inhaling mold and fungi from a case study reported in a journal. The hospital has since apologized; the journal, however, told us it is not planning to issue a retraction.

The University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust in Wythenshawe, UK, has apologized and launched an internal investigation into the case report after the family’s distress was extensively covered by the UK’s mainstream media, such as The BBC, The Independent, The Daily Mail, and The Telegraph.

There seem to be conflicting accounts over whether any consent was obtained to publish the report. The Thorax paper says the patient gave consent, and according to Gisli Jenkins, co-editor-in-chief of the journal and a professor of experimental medicine at Nottingham University in the UK, consent was sought from the family. But the patient’s daughter told us that neither the next of kin nor the patient were approached for consent. 

The release of the report on August 22 was “completely unethical,” said Erin Tabinor, daughter of musician Bruce Campbell and a makeup artist in Liverpool, UK. Tabinor told us that the family wasn’t aware that playing bagpipes was the cause of Campbell’s death: Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland researcher suspended during misconduct probe: report

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Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan

A prominent researcher in Scotland has been suspended amidst a misconduct investigation at the University of Dundee.

According to The Scotsman, the allegations against Robert Ryan center around falsifying data and duplicating figures in his work about molecular bacteriology.

As the outlet reports: Read the rest of this entry »

UK tribunal orders release of data from controversial chronic fatigue syndrome study

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court caseA tribunal in the UK has rejected an appeal by Queen Mary University of London, who sought to reverse a previous order that they release data from a controversial 2011 paper in The Lancet about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

The decision is one in a long series of judgments about the so-called PACE trial, which reported that two treatments — known as cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy — helped alleviate the symptoms of the condition. But ever since The Lancet article and follow-up papers have been published, patients and critics have questioned the conclusions and clamored to see the raw data.

The main criticisms: The findings may prompt some to believe chronic fatigue is a mental, not a physical, disorder, and the PACE program could actually be harmful to patients by encouraging too much exercise. These criticisms were recently bolstered by a re-analysis of the evidence by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which downgraded its original conclusions about the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy.

In March 2014,  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

August 17th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Authors retract study with contaminated cell lines

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MBoCAuthors of a molecular biology paper have pulled it after realizing that their cell lines were contaminated.

According to the notice in Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC), the contamination occurred by “unknown means” in the senior authors’ laboratory, who told us the mistake was a difficult one to catch. He added that they discovered the problem after other researchers published conflicting results.

He also noted that the contaminated cell lines were not used for experiments in any other papers.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on August 1: Read the rest of this entry »

UK doctor banned from practice after fabricating data in grant applications

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Queen Mary University of LondonA prominent cancer researcher in England has been banned from practicing medicine and has lost his funding from a UK charity after being found to have fabricated data in grant applications.

The moves against the researcher, Thorsten Hagemann, come after investigations by the General Medical Council, akin to a U.S. state medical board, and Hagemann’s former institution, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), turned up evidence of misconduct. In June, we reported on the retraction of a meeting abstract in The Journal of Pathology and the corrigendum of a Nature paper by Hagemann following the inquiry at QMUL.

A spokesperson from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service told the Evening Standard: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 8th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

From annoying to bitter, here are the six types of peer reviewers

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Urban Geography

After two decades of submitting papers to journals, and more than 10 years of serving on an editorial board or editing journals, geography researcher Kevin Ward knows a thing or two about peer review.

Recently, as the editor of Urban Geography, he received a particularly “grumpy” and “obnoxious” review in his inbox, which got him thinking. Although, he says, the review raised “professionally appropriate issues,” it went well beyond the widely accepted content and tone. Ward, therefore, decided to reflect on his two decades of experience, and decipher the different types of reviewers and their characteristics.

In all, Ward — from the University of Manchester in the UK — says he’s encountered six types of referees.

Here’s the first, according to his recent editorial published in Urban Geography: 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

July 25th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Plagiarism concerns raised over popular blockchain paper on catching misconduct

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f1000researchA graduate student at McGill University is raising concerns that a popular F1000Research paper may have plagiarized his 2014 blog post that — ironically — proposed a method to prevent scientific misconduct. The student calls the paper “a mirror image” of his work.

The February 2016 F1000Research paper, “How blockchain-timestamped protocols could improve the trustworthiness of medical science,” was highlighted by us earlier this year, as well as by The Economist and FierceBiotech. In the paper, physician Greg Irving of the University of Cambridge and John Holden of Garswood Surgery in the UK describe a proof-of-concept of how to use a blockchain—a technology best-known for powering the digital currency bitcoin—to audit scientific studies and prevent misconduct in clinical trials.

After the student brought his concerns to the journal, Irving and Holden published a second version of their paper online, this time prolifically citing the blog entry and altering language that had been identical between the two pieces. F1000Research says “the scientific content is still valid” and has no plans to retract the article. Two public peer reviewers of the work also stand by its validity. Read the rest of this entry »

Have 1 in 5 UK academics fabricated data?

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logoA small survey of UK academics suggests misconduct such as faking data and plagiarism is occurring surprisingly often.

The survey — of 215 UK academics — estimated that 1 in 7 had plagiarized from someone else’s work, and nearly 1 in 5 had fabricated data. Here’s how Joanna Williams and David Roberts at the University of Kent summarize the results in their full report, published by the Society for Research into Higher Education: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

July 1st, 2016 at 11:30 am