Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘united states’ Category

Another retraction for student who confessed to cooking data

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A journal has retracted another paper by a graduate student formerly based at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, after she spontaneously confessed to fabricating data.

As we reported in April 2016, principal investigator Florence Marlow alerted the institution’s Office of Research Integrity and two journals about Meredyth Forbes’s admission, prompting an investigation into the extent of the data manipulation.

Three papers were affected: In January 2016, Development flagged one paper with an expression of concern, alerting readers to the potential issues with the data while the authors and Research Integrity Office investigated the scope of the problem. In April 2016, another paper was retracted by Cell Reports; the third, also published in Development, received a correction.

Last month, the authors and Development decided to retract the paper that had been flagged with an EOC (which appears on page 2 here).  Read the rest of this entry »

A diabetes researcher sued his former employer for defamation. Here’s the story.

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Franck Mauvais-Jarvis

The last decade hasn’t exactly been drama-free for Franck Mauvais-Jarvis, head of the Diabetes Research Program at Tulane University.

After being accused of falsifying three figures in a submitted manuscript, Mauvais-Jarvis sued his accusers and officials at his former employer — Northwestern University — for defamation and conspiracy in 2011.

In 2014, a judge dismissed the suit. We wish we could tell you more details about it—such as what the university’s misconduct investigation found, or how the lawsuit was concluded—but they remain shrouded in mystery. What we know is based on court records from the lawsuit, which we recently obtained through an unrelated public records request. Even without all the details, it’s a long, sordid tale, involving a lot of finger-pointing and allegations of misconduct.

In 2008, a former research technician in the lab of Mauvais-Jarvis, then an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University, raised concerns of fabrication in two figures in a paper on the regulation of insulin synthesis that had been submitted the Journal of Biological Chemistry. An inquiry committee at the university unanimously concluded that research misconduct charges against Mauvais-Jarvis were not credible.

But then a third figure in the manuscript was found to be “inaccurate,” and the university initiated a second inquiry. That’s when Mauvais-Jarvis — whose papers have been cited more than 2,000 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters — initiated a lawsuit. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Megan Scudellari

April 12th, 2017 at 9:30 am

U.S. panel sounds alarm on “detrimental” research practices, calls for new body to help tackle misconduct

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A new report from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel urges the creation of a new, independent group to help tackle research misconduct and other practices that hurt the enterprise.

The report also renames those problematic practices — such as “misleading statistical analysis that falls short of falsification,” awarding authorship to researchers who don’t deserve it (and vice versa), not sharing data, and poorly supervising research — as “detrimental” research practices. In the past, many have dubbed those behaviors as “questionable.”

The reason for the nomenclature change, according to a member of the Committee on Responsible Science (which wrote the report) CK Gunsalus, is to help the community understand that these aren’t just behaviors they should question — they can cause harm. Gunsalus, Director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, told Retraction Watch:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 11th, 2017 at 2:02 pm

Chemistry papers challenged a paradigm — until the authors spotted a pivotal error

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Several years ago, a group of four chemists believed they had stumbled upon evidence that contradicted a fairly well-established model in fluid dynamics.

Between 2013 and 2015, the researchers published a series of four papers detailing their results — two in ACS Macro Letters and two in MacromoleculesTimothy P. Lodge, the journals’ editor and a distinguished professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, explained that the results were “somewhat controversial,” because they appeared to contradict the generally accepted model for how some polymer fluids move.

Indeed, the papers sparked debate between the authors and other experts who questioned the new data, arguing it didn’t upend the previous model.

Then, in 2015, the authors realized their critics might be correct.  Read the rest of this entry »

First retraction appears for embattled food researcher Brian Wansink

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Brian Wansink

Earlier this month, a high-profile food researcher who’s recently come under fire announced a journal was retracting one of his papers for duplication. Today, a retraction appeared — for a 2002 study which contained “major overlap,” according to the journal.

The Journal of Sensory Studies has retracted a paper by Cornell’s Brian Wansink about how labeling of foods can affect how they taste, after determining it borrowed too heavily from a 2000 paper. Wansink is the first author on both studies.

Here’s more from the retraction notice:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 10th, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Cornell finds mistakes — not misconduct — in papers by high-profile nutrition researcher

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Brian Wansink

An internal review by Cornell University has concluded that a high-profile researcher whose work has been under fire made numerous mistakes in his work, but did not commit misconduct.

In response, the researcher — Brian Wansinkannounced that he has submitted four errata to the journals that published the work in question. Since the initial allegations about the four papers, other researchers have raised numerous questions about additional papers that appear to contain duplicated material. Wansink noted that he has contacted the six journals that published that work, and was told one paper is being retracted.

Here’s the statement from Cornell about its initial probe:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 6th, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Hello…Newman: Yet another sting pranks a predatory journal, Seinfeld-style

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John McCool

Starting to get bored of stings designed to expose the well-documented flaws in scientific publishing? Yeah, sometimes we are too. But another one just came across our desks, and we couldn’t help ourselves.

John McCool is neither a researcher nor a urologist. When received an unsolicited invitation to submit a paper to an open-access urology journal, however, he just couldn’t resist: He is the owner of a freelance scientific editing company, and has long been concerned about so-called predatory journals, which often publish sub-par papers as long as authors pay. And he loves the TV show “Seinfeld.”

Like many others before him, McCool decided to punk the journal by submitting a fake paper. He told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 6th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch lifted from earlier works in his scholarly papers: Report

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U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch appears to have borrowed material from multiple authors in his 2006 book, according to a new analysis by Politico.

This week, U.S. lawmakers are going head-to-head over the nomination of Gorsuch to the highest court in the land. Although the book is only one snippet of Gorsuch’s vast portfolio of writings, six independent experts contacted by Politico agreed that the flagged passages appear problematic.

Here’s more about documents obtained by the media outlet:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 5th, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Most citations to retracted papers don’t note they’re problematic, authors say

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Gali Halevi

We’ve known for a while that too many researchers cite retracted papers. But in what context do those citations occur? Are some authors citing a retracted paper as an example of problematic findings, or do most citing authors treat the findings as legitimate, failing to realize they are no longer valid? In a new paper in Scientometrics, Gali Halevi at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and Judit Bar-Ilan at Bar-Ilan University in Israel examined citations to 15 papers retracted in 2014. Halevi told us why she was surprised to see how many authors don’t realize retracted papers are problematic, and what the publishing community can do to get the word out.

Retraction Watch: We’ve noticed that many papers are cited long after being retracted, without notifying readers the paper is problematic. You looked at citations to retracted papers and tracked how the citing authors described the paper – noting that its findings were problematic given the retraction (negative), or treating the findings as legitimate research that affirms the newer paper’s results (positive). The vast majority of post-retraction citations – 83% — were positive. Did that surprise you?

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Written by Alison McCook

April 5th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Journals retract paper, flag two others by cancer doc under investigation

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Carlo Croce

This weekend, Carlo Croce had some reprieve from the misconduct accusations that have followed him for years (recently described in a lengthy article in the New York Times) and that have prompted his university to re-open an investigation. On Sunday, he received a prestigious award from the American Association for Cancer Research, honoring his work.

But the moment may have been short-lived. Today, Croce received two expressions of concern (EOCs) from PNAS for two well-cited papers published over a decade ago, on which Croce — chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics at The Ohio State University (OSU) — is last author. The two EOCs cite concerns over duplicated bands. What’s more, another journal recently decided to retract one of his papers, citing figures that didn’t represent the results of the experiments.

PNAS chose to issue EOCs, rather than retractions or corrections, because the authors didn’t agree that the bands were duplicated, according to executive editor Diane Sullenberger. She explained how the journal learned of the issues with the two papers: Read the rest of this entry »