Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘united states’ Category

Director of U.S. HHS Office of Research Integrity temporarily removed from post

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Kathy Partin

After a tumultuous two years, Kathy Partin is temporarily stepping away from her position as the director of the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

According to an internal personnel announcement forwarded to us, on December 4, Partin will begin a 90-day stint at the Office of the Vice President for Research at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which trains health professionals to support the U.S. military.

Partin declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), of which the Office of Research Integrity is a part, told us the agency cannot comment on personnel issues.

Linda Schutjer, a former colleague of Partin’s at Colorado State University, told us Partin was asked to leave:

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Written by Alison McCook

November 20th, 2017 at 11:49 am

After losing two video game-violence papers, co-author’s weapons paper is flagged

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Can seeing a weapon increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors?

A meta-analysis on the so-called “weapons effect” has been flagged with an expression of concern by a SAGE journal, after the researchers discovered errors affecting at least one of the main conclusions.

The paper found that the presence of weapons increased people’s aggressiveness, but not feelings of anger. However, the corresponding author, Arlin James Benjamin, who works at University of Arkansas–Fort Smith, told us:

we would urge considerably more caution in interpreting the impact of weapons on behavioral outcomes based on those initial re-analyses.

Last author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University (OSU), was the corresponding author on two now-retracted papers linking video games and violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Journal replaces anti-vaccine paper it retracted for missing conflicts, “number of errors”

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A journal retracted a paper about how conflicts of interest might be influencing research into the link between vaccines and autism because — wait for it — the authors failed to disclose conflicts of interest.

According to the retraction notice, the editors retracted the paper without the authors’ agreement, because the authors had a host of personal and professional interests in the field they didn’t declare, such as being associated with organizations involved in autism and vaccine safety. What’s more, the article also contained “a number of errors, and mistakes of various types that raise concerns about the validity of the conclusion.”

But now, Science and Engineering Ethics has published a new version of the article that draws similar conclusions to the retracted one, albeit with an updated conflict of interest statement, among other changes. From the abstract of the revised version: Read the rest of this entry »

Journal silently fixes emergency care paper — after misleading press coverage

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Last month, a colleague of emergency medicine doctor Daniel Waxman sent him some newly reported findings that took him by surprise. Waxman knew from the title of a press release about the recent paper — “Nearly Half of U.S. Medical Care Comes From Emergency Rooms” — that something was wrong.

Immediately I said, that’s not true. It’s just crazy.

Waxman quickly realized the mistake: The data were based only on care provided in hospitals — much of which, not surprisingly, originates from emergency departments (EDs). But the title of the paper, the abstract, and other places in the text do not specify that. What’s more,  the press release about the study says the findings relate to “all medical care.” The journal has since changed the paper, including the title, to make that distinction clear, but not provided any editorial notice indicating the text had been updated. Meanwhile, the press release and news stories about the original study continue to report the “surprising” original findings.

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Written by Alison McCook

November 14th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Lawyers call libel suit against journal and critic “lawless” but “well written”

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Mark Jacobson

A $10 million defamation suit filed by a Stanford University professor against a critic and a journal may be an assault on free speech, according to one lawyer, but at least it’s “well written.”

Kenneth White, a lawyer at Southern California firm Brown White & Osborn who frequently blogs about legal issues related to free speech at Popehat, told us:

It’s not incompetently drafted, but it’s clearly vexatious and intended to silence dissent about an alleged scientist’s peer-reviewed article.

Scientists have publicly bemoaned the suit’s existence, as reported by several outlets, including Mashable and Nature. Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford, has alleged that he was defamed in a June article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), which was critical of a 2015 paper co-authored by Jacobson in the same journal. In a complaint filed Sept. 29 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Jacobson accused the journal’s publisher, the National Academy of Sciences, and the paper’s first author, Christopher Clack, an executive at a renewable energy analysis firm, of libel.

White told us that there are several pitfalls that could trip up the lawsuit, including a DC law that allows defendants an early opportunity to ask the court to dismiss cases muzzling free speech and recover attorneys’ fees. But another attorney said the complaint should at least clear the lowest hurdle in the way of getting to trial. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

November 13th, 2017 at 11:10 am

Carlo Croce, facing misconduct allegations, accuses former colleague of misconduct

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Carlo Croce

Carlo Croce, a cancer researcher who has faced numerous research misconduct allegations, recently accused a former lab member of misconduct. Although an institutional probe did not support that allegation, Croce’s efforts have led to a retraction.

In November 2015, Croce and another cancer researcher at Ohio State University (OSU), Ramiro Garzon, contacted PLOS ONE, alleging that the paper’s corresponding author, Stefan Costinean, published data without their knowledge or permission and without “accurately acknowledging their contributions to the research.” Although the PLOS ONE paper mentioned Croce’s and Garzon’s contributions in the acknowledgements section, the two were not included as co-authors. We have obtained a copy of the report describing OSU’s preliminary probe; it did not find evidence of misconduct, but recommended the paper be retracted for using data without permission. Although Costinean disagreed, the journal has since retracted the paper.

Croce has been on the other side of this process: Seven of his papers have been retracted for issues including manipulation and duplication. After a New York Times article, published in March, explored misconduct allegations against Croce, OSU said the university is “instituting an independent external review.” Croce is currently suing the New York Times, alleging that the newspaper defamed him in the story.

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Most editors of top medical journals receive industry payments: report

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Victoria Wong

When examining the roles of conflicts of interest in academic publishing, most research focuses on transparency around the payments authors receive. But what about journal editors? According to a new Peer J preprint, two-thirds of editors at prominent journals received some type of industry payment over the last few years – which, at many journals, editors are never required to disclose. (The findings echo those reported by another recent paper in The BMJ, published six days later.) We spoke with Victoria Wong at The Queens Medical Center in Hawaii, first author of the Peer J preprint.

Retraction Watch: In studies of academic integrity, most people concentrate on the authors who submit to journals, and on the articles published by journals, as a way to assess the integrity of science publications.  What drew your attention to the individual editors and their possible influence on the process?

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Written by Alison McCook

November 8th, 2017 at 8:00 am

17 Johns Hopkins researchers resign in protest from ed board at Nature journal

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More than a dozen members of the editorial board at Scientific Reports have resigned after the journal decided not to retract a 2016 paper that a researcher claims plagiarized his work.

As of this morning, 19 people — mostly researchers based at Johns Hopkins — had stepped down from the board, according to Hopkins researcher Steven Salzberg. Salzberg organized the response after learning of the issue from colleague Michael Beer, who has accused the 2016 paper of plagiarism.

Monday morning, Richard White, the editor of the journal (published by Springer Nature), sent an email to Salzberg and the researchers who had threatened to resign if the paper wasn’t retracted, saying:

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Written by Alison McCook

November 7th, 2017 at 11:02 am

Researchers ask to retract cancer paper five days after it’s flagged by journal

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Researchers from the University of Kansas asked to retract their paper only days after the journal issued an expression of concern related to some of the images.

The retraction notice marks the close of an episode that started in June, but it doesn’t provide much closure: Figures in the paper apparently do not match primary data, but there’s no hint as to how that happened.

In a statement sent to JCS — just five days after the expression of concern came out — last author Kristi Neufeld, a cancer biologist at KU, wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: 4th retraction for prominent physicist (with new funding) cites falsification

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Improved Cellular Specificity of Plasmonic Nanobubbles versus Nanoparticles in Heterogeneous Cell Systems

What Caught Our Attention: Nanotechnology researcher Dmitri Lapotko, whose work with lasers continues to catch media attention, has earned his fourth retraction.  As with the other three, the latest notice mentions an investigation at Rice University, but provides no specific information other than “data falsification” for images, and no indication as to the offending researcher(s). (In the past, Rice hasn’t even confirmed to us the presence of an investigation.) Only Laptoko and Ekaterina Lukianova-Hleb are common authors to all retractions. Despite these recent setbacks, Lapotko has not fared too badly in research funding.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

November 6th, 2017 at 8:00 am