Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘plos’ Category

Fired Pfizer cancer researcher loses final two of five papers pegged for retraction

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PLOS ONE has retracted the last of five papers by a former employee of Pfizer, who the company fired after determining she had duplicated data.

After its investigation, Pfizer asked journals to retract five papers co-authored by Min-Jean Yin. Last week, PLOS ONE retracted the final two remaining papers. Both notices cite image duplications; Yin contacted the journal about one paper, but did not comment on the other retraction.

Here’s the notice for “miR-221 Promotes Tumorigenesis in Human Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells:”

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How many scientists admit to questionable research practices?

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Franca Agnoli

Sure, everyone knows it’s not a good idea to falsify data. But what about somewhat lesser offenses that also undermine the reproducibility of your findings, such as only publishing studies that “work,” and reporting an unexpected finding as something you had predicted from the beginning? In 2012, a survey of more than 2,000 psychologists based in the U.S. found that most admitted to adopting at least one “questionable research practice.” But would psychologists in other countries say the same? (Answer: Yes.) A group of researchers led by Franca Agnoli at the University of Padova posed this question to 277 Italian psychologists; their results appear in PLOS ONE

Retraction Watch: Why is it important to compare how many researchers engage in questionable practices in different countries? 

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Written by Alison McCook

March 31st, 2017 at 9:30 am

Author duplicated a figure in three papers; two get retracted

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Two journals have retracted two papers by the same group within months of each other, after editors were independently tipped off that they contained duplicated figures representing different experiments.

The two papers were published by PLOS ONE and The Egyptian Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (EJBMB) in 2015 and 2014, respectively. According to the PLOS ONE paper’s corresponding author, last author Saad A. Noeman from Tanta University in Egypt used the same Figure 1 in both papers, along with another 2013 paper in EJBMB.

Corresponding author Yasser S. El-Sayed, head of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at Damanhour University in Egypt, told us he learned of this issue after a reader brought the figure manipulation and duplication concerns to PLOS ONE’s attention.

El-Sayed said that he tried to figure out what had happened.

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PLOS ONE has faced a decline in submissions – why? New editor speaks

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By some measures, 2016 was a somewhat rocky year for PLOS ONE — it issued some high-profile retractions, and published fewer papers, in part due to a decline in submissions. Still, the first multidisciplinary open-access journal — which accepts all submissions that meet technical and ethical standards, regardless of the results — publishes more than 20,000 papers per year, juggling thousands of editors and reviewers. So what does the future hold for this “large and complex” journal? We spoke with its new editor, Joerg Heber, who assumed the role in November.

Retraction Watch: What are your primary goals for the journal, and how do you plan to achieve them?

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Written by Alison McCook

March 15th, 2017 at 9:42 am

Posted in plos,plos one

Authors in Spain issue string of corrections

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Following a journal probe and questions on PubPeer about their work, authors in Spain have issued four corrections, citing missing raw data for experiments conducted more than 10 years ago.

All papers include the same last two authors, Mireia Duñach at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Antonio García de Herreros at the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques.

Three of the corrections were issued by the Journal of Biological Chemistry, from which the authors retracted three papers earlier this year after a journal investigation concluded they contain reused images, designed to represent different experiments.

Duñach told us the latest corrections are the result of her own initiation:

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Written by Alison McCook

December 30th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Judge tosses case, saying that court-ordered retractions are not part of scientific publication

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“Retractions are part and parcel of academic and scientific publication. Court ordered retractions are not.”

So ends a judge’s September 30, 2016 opinion dismissing a case brought in 2014 by Andrew Mallon, a former Brown University postdoc, alleging that his advisor and former business partner, John Marshall, had published a paper in 2013 in PLOS Biology that should have listed him as a co-author.

As with most court cases, this one had a long backstory: An earlier version of the paper had listed Mallon as a co-author, but was rejected by Neuron in 2011; after the authors had a dispute over the data, a different version of the manuscript was submitted to PLOS Biology in 2012, leaving Mallon off the co-author list. So Mallon had sued to have the paper retracted.

In communications with Retraction Watch and other media, as well as during depositions of the plaintiffs, Mallon referred frequently to allegations of scientific misconduct, including the fact that the first author of the PLOS Biology paper had an unrelated paper retracted in 2010 for duplicated data. However, this case was brought under the Copyright Act, which focused on the authorship dispute.

Kevin Tottis, who represented Marshall and co-defendant Dennis Goebel, told Retraction Watch his clients “are delighted with the judge’s decision.” Massachusetts District Court Judge Timothy Hillman, he said, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 14th, 2016 at 1:00 pm

What do retractions look like in Korean journals?

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plos-one-better-sizeA new analysis of retractions from Korean journals reveals some interesting trends.

For one, the authors found most papers in Korean journals are retracted for duplication (57%), a higher rate than what’s been reported in other studies. The authors also deemed some retractions were “inappropriate” according to guidelines established by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) — for instance, retracting the article another paper duplicated from, or pulling a paper when an erratum would have sufficed.

One sentence from “Characteristics of Retractions from Korean Medical Journals in the KoreaMed Database: A Bibliometric Analysis,” however, particularly struck us:  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 18th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Pfizer fires employee, requests five retractions

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pfizerPharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced it plans to retract five papers by a former employee, after an investigation found duplicated images.

As first reported today by Leonid Schneider, Pfizer has asked to retract five papers from the lab of Min-Jean Yin, a cancer researcher. A spokesperson for the company confirmed to us that Yin had been fired:

…Min-Jean Yin’s employment has been terminated as a result of our investigation.

The five papers to be retracted are: Read the rest of this entry »

When does “overlap” become plagiarism? Here’s what PLOS ONE decided

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PLOSOne

Consider this: Fragments of a PLOS ONE paper overlap with pieces of other publications. The authors used them without credit and without quotation marks.

This sounds an awful lot like plagiarism — using PLOS‘s own standards, even. But the journal isn’t calling it plagiarism. They’ve labeled this an instance of “text overlap,” a spokesperson told us, based on the amount of material that the paper shares with others.

The last author — Carlo Croce, who has two retractions under his belt — denies that he plagiarized, and says that his university has cleared him of a plagiarism charge from an anonymous whistleblower.

PLOS fixed this case last year with a correction notice — not the common course of action for a case of confirmed plagiarism. Take a look at the notice for yourself:

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Author loses five papers, most for “compromised” peer review

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PLOS OnePLOS ONE has retracted three papers after the first author admitted to submitting the manuscripts without co-authors’ consent, and an investigation suggested that two out of the three papers had received faked reviews.

Last August, the same author — Lishan Wang of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University — lost two more papers (one in Tumor Biology and the other in Gene), also after the peer review process was found to be compromised. All five papers — which share other authors in common — were originally published in 2013, and four list Wang as the first author. The retractions follow an investigation by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Here’s the retraction notice for two of the PLOS ONE papers, issued on July 26: Read the rest of this entry »