Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘united states’ Category

ORI finds misconduct in case of biologist paid $100K by university to leave

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A biologist who studied the impact of diabetes on the eye inappropriately altered data in five images from three papers, according to a new finding of misconduct issued by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Readers may be familiar with the subject of the findings: Azza El-Remessy, a former tenured associate professor at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, spoke to us earlier this year about her battle with UGA. In June 2016, UGA found her guilty of research misconduct and recommended she be terminated. El-Remessy fought back, hiring a lawyer to contest the findings, and the university ultimately paid her $100,000 to leave. (For more, here’s UGA’s June 2016 investigation report and the settlement agreement between UGA and El-Remessy.) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

October 2nd, 2017 at 11:05 am

So, was it plagiarism? Journal retracts three papers over “citation and attribution errors”

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When several recent submissions raised a red flag, a pediatrics journal decided to investigate. The journal, Pediatrics in Review, discovered “citation and attribution errors” in three case studies, which the journal has now retracted.  

Luann Zanzola, the managing editor of the journal, explained that the editors caught the errors when they scanned the three papers—one published in 2014 and two in 2015—using the plagiarism detection software, iThenticate. Zanzola told us that the three case studies “were flagged for high iThenticate scores,” and when the authors could not adequately explain the amount of text overlap, the editors retracted the papers.

The retraction notices for the three papers, published in the journal’s September 2017 issue, are identical: Read the rest of this entry »

Author blamed for misconduct in Cell paper declines to sign retraction notice  

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Researchers have retracted a 2015 paper in Cell after an investigation revealed the first author committed misconduct.

According to the retraction notice, which first author Ozgur Tataroglu declined to sign, the researchers realized there was an issue with the 2015 paper when they were unable to replicate the findings. Corresponding author Patrick Emery and his team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester reviewed the data and found “clear evidence” that Tataroglu  — who had been a postdoc in Emery’s lab — “had repeatedly misrepresented and altered primary data,” the notice states.

UMass subsequently conducted an investigation in which it “concluded that the first author committed scientific misconduct.”  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Calcium and SOL Protease Mediate Temperature Resetting of Circadian Clocks:” Read the rest of this entry »

UCSF-VA letters to journals offer insight into misconduct investigations

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Earlier this month, we reported the retraction of several papers published by researchers with appointments at both the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the San Francisco Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center, led by a prominent urologist. Recently, we obtained the letters sent to the journals that retracted the papers, shedding some additional light on the case.

The most notable insight: The institutions couldn’t place blame for the misconduct that led to the three retractions on any one individual.

Through a public records request, Retraction Watch has obtained the letter sent to the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) — which publishes Cancer Research and Clinical Cancer Research — as well as a similar one sent to the editor of the International Journal of Cancer. UCSF and the VA co-wrote both letters and sent them to request editorial action on articles that the research institutions had found to contain “clear evidence” of research misconduct.

Because the retraction notices for the papers published by Cancer Research and Clinical Cancer Research quoted the AACR letter heavily, there isn’t a lot more to reveal. But the letter does say that the committee “could not determine who was responsible” for the misconduct, even though the co-authors said it was Masahiro Sasaki, first author on both papers.

According to the letter, Sasaki:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

September 25th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Prominent food researcher retracts paper from JAMA journal, replaces it with multiple fixes

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Brian Wansink

Earlier this week, we reported that high-profile food researcher Brian Wansink — who’s faced months of criticisms about his research — had issued his second retraction. On Thursday, he issued his third.

The retracted paper — a 2012 research letter in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, now JAMA Pediatrics — reported that children were more likely to choose an apple over a cookie if the apple included an Elmo sticker. The same day the paper was retracted, Wansink and his co-authors published a replacement version that includes multiple changes, including to the methodology and the results.

The retraction notice lists the mistakes, which the authors say they made “inadvertently:”

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“A gut-wrenching experience:” Authors retract, replace JAMA paper

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When economist Jason Hockenberry looked at data comparing some of the financial issues facing different U.S. hospitals, he was surprised by what he saw.

Hockenberry was examining the effects of a recently introduced U.S. program that penalizes hospitals with relatively high rates of readmissions for certain conditions by reducing Medicare payments. Although Hockenberry expected hospitals that serve low-income and uninsured patients to have more readmissions (and therefore more penalties), he saw these so-called “safety-net hospitals” had been steadily improving their performance since the program began in 2012, and had faced fewer penalties over time.

The results were so striking, they ended up in JAMA on April 18, 2017. But within one week after publication, Hockenberry learned outside researchers had raised questions about the analysis.

The outside researchers thought the authors had incorrectly categorized some of the safety-net hospitals. After looking into their concerns, Hockenberry — based at Emory University in Atlanta — realized the analysis did contain errors that affect the findings. This week, he and his co-authors retracted the article, replacing it with a corrected version. The new paper still reports that the gap between the penalties faced by safety-net and non-safety-net hospitals is closing — but not for the reasons they initially thought.  

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Journal republishes withdrawn paper on emergency care prices, amid controversy

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The Annals of Emergency Medicine has republished a controversial paper it withdrew earlier this year which compared the cost of emergency care at different types of facilities.

Because the paper drew heavy criticism when it was originally released, the journal has published a revised version, along with several editorials and discussions between the authors and critics. One point of contention: The analysis stems from data provided by an insurance company — Blue Cross Blue Shield — which it declined to share.

The paper — originally published in February —  caught national attention (and raised concerns among some emergency care providers) when it reported the cost of treatment in emergency departments can be significantly higher than at urgent care centers, even for the same conditions. The journal withdrew the paper in spring, and re-published it Tuesday, with minor changes.

First author Vivian Ho at Rice University told us she made “slight changes”  to some headings, phrases, and the appendix, but:

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“Devastating:” Authors retract paper in Nature journal upon discovering error

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Several years ago, Chris Dames thought he had made an exciting discovery, a “secret sauce” that would allow him to design a device using a novel mechanism.

In a 2014 Nature Communications paper, Dames—who works at the University of California at Berkeley—and his team described the first experimental results for the device, a photon thermal diode. A thermal diode conducts heat in one direction but not in the other, and in theory, could have broad applications—for example, provide barriers that shield buildings from excess heat or use heat to power computers.

But two years later, in August 2016, a colleague thought he had discovered a fundamental error in the design of the experiments. Bair Budaev, who also works at the University of California at Berkeley, believed that the authors made a “a fundamental symmetry error” which invalidated their results. Read the rest of this entry »

Another retraction hits high-profile food researcher under fire

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Brian Wansink

It’s been a rough year for Brian Wansink.

Last year, the prominent food researcher posted a blog praising a student for her productivity in his lab. But when Wansink described his methods, readers became concerned that the lab was using improper research techniques to generate more publications. Earlier this year, researchers posted an analysis of four papers by Wansink about pizza consumption to PeerJ, saying they discovered more than 150 inconsistencies in the data. Now, one of those four papers has been retracted.

On Friday, BMC Nutrition posted a brief notice about the 2015 paper, which examined whether people who pay different amounts for all-you-can-eat Italian buffets feel more or less guilty about how much they ate. The notice says the retraction stems from concerns about the data analysis, and the authors do not agree with the journal’s decision.

The new retraction is the second for Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell.

Here’s the complete retraction notice:

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Written by Alison McCook

September 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Article defending colonialism draws rebuke, journal defends choice to publish

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Facing a volley of criticism for publishing an essay that called for a return to colonialism, a journal editor has defended his decision to print the article.

The Case for Colonialism,” published Sept. 8 in Third World Quarterly (TWQ), was written by Bruce Gilley, a professor of political science at Portland State University. For an idea of what the piece was about, here’s the beginning of the abstract:

For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts.

Since the essay came out, scholars have criticized both the article itself and the journal’s decision to publish it. Several critics have called for retraction. [Update: 15 members of the editorial board have resigned in response.]

One group of critics wrote that they objected to the essay because:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

September 19th, 2017 at 8:00 am