Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘uk retractions’ Category

Guardian retracts 13 articles for fabrication; writer defends his work

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nfNt_pGn_400x400The Guardian is taking down 13 articles and excerpts from others after a freelance writer couldn’t provide evidence for the material.

The writer, however, has defended his work, saying he simply lost his notes from earlier stories:

The claim that I fabricated stories is wrong.

Yesterday, the UK newspaper released a statement from editor Lee Glendinning entitled “A note to our readers about a reporter who breached our trust.” After sources in a February story said they’d never spoken to Joseph Mayton, a freelancer based in San Francisco, the paper launched an investigation: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 27th, 2016 at 9:00 am

Editors say they missed “fairly obvious clues” of third party tampering, publish fake peer reviews

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BJCP Cover

The editors of a journal that recently retracted a paper after the peer-review process was “compromised” have published the fake reviews, along with additional details about the case.

In the editorial titled “Organised crime against the academic peer review system,” Adam Cohen and other editors at the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology say they missed “several fairly obvious clues that should have set alarm bells ringing.” For instance, the glowing reviews from supposed high-profile researchers at Ivy League institutions were returned within a few days, were riddled with grammar problems, and the authors had no previous publications. 

The case is one of many we’ve recently seen in which papers are pulled due to actions of a third party

The paper was submitted on August 5, 2015. From the beginning, the timing was suspect, Cohen — the director for the Centre for Human Drug Research in The Netherlands — and his colleagues note: Read the rest of this entry »

PLOS editors discussing authors’ decision to remove chronic fatigue syndrome data

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After PLOS ONE allowed authors to remove a dataset from a paper on chronic fatigue syndrome, the editors are now “discussing the matter” with the researchers, given the journal’s requirements about data availability.

As Leonid Schneider reported earlier today, the 2015 paper was corrected May 18 to remove an entire dataset; the authors note that they were not allowed to publish anonymized patient data, but can release it to researchers upon request. The journal, however, requires that authors make their data fully available.

Here’s the correction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 20th, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Structural biology corrections highlight best of the scientific process

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Nature_latest-coverIf you need evidence of the value of transparency in science, check out a pair of recent corrections in the structural biology literature.

This past August, researchers led by Qiu-Xing Jiang at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center corrected their study, first published in February 2014 in eLife, of prion-like protein aggregates called MAVS filaments, to which they had ascribed the incorrect “helical symmetry.” In March, Richard Blumberg of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues corrected their 2014 Nature study of a protein complex called CEACAM1/TIM-3, whose structure they had attempted to solve using x-ray crystallography.

In both cases, external researchers were able to download and reanalyze the authors’ own data from public data repositories, making it quickly apparent what had gone wrong and how it needed to be fixed — highlighting the very best of a scientific process that is supposed to be self-correcting and collaborative. Read the rest of this entry »

In precedent break, BMJ explains why it rejected controversial “weekend effect” paper

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After the reviewer of a rejected paper was publicly outed, the BMJ has taken the unusual step of explaining why it chose not to publish the paper.

The paper — eventually published in another journal — raised hackles for suggesting that there is no “weekend effect,” or a higher mortality rate in hospitals on Saturday and Sunday. This caught the attention of UK policy makers, who have proposed changing policies to compensate for any supposed “weekend effect.”

Amidst the heated discussion about the research, one of the reviewers was identified, along with suggestions that he may have been conflicted because he had published a study showing the opposite finding. Yesterday, the BMJ posted a blog explaining that it was the editors — and not one sole reviewer — who decided to reject the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 17th, 2016 at 11:49 am

Dev Cell paper retracted after author admits to doctoring data

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Developmental CellThe authors of a Developmental Cell paper have retracted it after the first author admitted to manipulating and falsifying data and reagents.

The problems came to light after the authors couldn’t reproduce the findings, about a mechanism underlying meiosis. When questioned about the matter, the first author of the paper, Saurav Malhotra, admitted to doctoring data and materials. 

Here’s the retraction notice to the paper, “The Anaphase-Promoting Complex/Cyclosome Is Essential for Entry into Meiotic M-Phase: Read the rest of this entry »

In major shift, medical journal to publish protocols along with clinical trials

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AIMA major medical journal has updated its instructions to authors, now requiring that they publish protocols of clinical trials, along with any changes made along the way.

We learned of this change via the COMPare project, which has been tracking trial protocol changes in major medical journals — and been critical of the Annals of Internal Medicine‘s response to those changes. However, Darren Taichman, the executive deputy editor of the journal, told us the journal’s decision to publish trial protocols was a long time coming: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 13th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Author: I’ll sue if publisher doesn’t retract my retraction

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Journal of Homeland Security

An author is preparing to sue a publisher for retracting his paper.

John Bishop, the CEO of an independent media company called Crocels, argues that by taking down his paper, De Gruyter is breaching a contract — their agreement to publish his work.

Perhaps appropriately, the paper suggests ways to combat negative online comments — including litigation.

Bishop told us he learned that his paper was pulled when he was alerted to the brief retraction notice, published in April. The notice, published in the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says:

Read the rest of this entry »

Physics journal pulls two papers for data shortcuts

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New Journal of PhysicsA publisher is retracting two papers today by a team of physicists who took a short cut in reporting their data.

The papers present a method for imaging very small things — like biological processes on a molecular scale — that could be an alternative to electron microscopy, as the authors explain in a video. But after the papers were published in the New Journal of Physics, last author Ulf Leonhardt, now based at the Weizmann Institute of Science, found out that some of the data

 were pixel-by-pixel mirror-symmetric, which is impossible for genuine experimental data.

One of the researchers co-authored a subsequent paper that acknowledges one of the papers incorrectly assumed the data were symmetrical, and could therefore be extrapolated from one side to the other. A representative of the publisher told us they have not seen any signs of misconduct, and the problem seemed to result from a “series of apparent miscommunications between the authors.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Evidence for subwavelength imaging with positive refraction:” Read the rest of this entry »

Ecologists pull paper on how climate change affects moths after model mixup

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science advancesEcologists have retracted a paper published only months ago in Science Advances, after realizing that they had misinterpreted a climate model.

The October paper examined the effects of climate change on populations of 155 species of British moths and butterflies. According to a press release from the authors’ institution, the University of York:

Using data collected by thousands of volunteers through ‘citizen science’ schemes, responses to recent climate change were seen to vary greatly from species to species.

But the authors quickly realized that the variation they had measured was not due to climate change alone, according to the retraction notice they issued for the paper last week:

Read the rest of this entry »