Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘plos’ Category

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 »

PLOS ONE’s correction rate is higher than average. Why?

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When a high-profile psychologist reviewed her newly published paper in PLOS ONE, she was dismayed to notice multiple formatting errors.

So she contacted the journal to find out what had gone wrong, especially since checking the page proofs would have spotted the problem immediately. The authors were surprised to learn that it was against the journal’s policy to provide authors page proofs. Could this partly explain PLOS ONE’s high rate of corrections?

Issuing frequent corrections isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it can indicate that the journal is responsive to fixing published articles. But the rate of corrections at PLOS ONE is notably high. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 5th, 2016 at 1:05 pm

PLOS ONE flags math paper over algorithm concerns

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PLOS OnePLOS ONE has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a 2014 math paper after readers raised concerns with its algorithm.

According to the first author of the paper Hafsa Athar Jafree from the University of Karachi in Pakistan — none of the authors agreed to the EOC notice. She told us the paper contains a few typos, which may have made it unclear to some readers, but said the authors had provided all of the necessary information to “justify the presented algorithms.”

A PLOS ONE spokesperson told us the journal decided to issue an EOC after consulting the editorial board, which raised significant concerns about the study.

In 2014, the journal issued a correction to the study to fix several equations in the original article. 

Here’s the EOC, posted July 25: Read the rest of this entry »

PhD student expelled for submitting paper without co-authors’ consent

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PLOS OneA PhD student has been expelled from a university in China after publishing a paper in PLOS ONE without the permission of her co-authors, and using an external company to complete some of the work. 

PLOS ONE has now retracted the paper, noting that they were tipped off to the problems by a reader who raised concerns about some of the figures. The notice states that the study’s first author, Zhenni Zhang, takes full responsibility. 

The last author of the paper Zongfang Li from the Xi’an Jiaotong University in China — told us Zhang was his PhD student who was close to completing her PhD, but has now been expelled.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on July 25: Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher who sued to stop retractions earns his 7th

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Mario Saad

Mario Saad

A diabetes researcher who sued to stop a publisher from retracting his papers has just received his seventh retraction.

The latest retraction for Mario Saad, who is based at the University of Campinas (Unicamp) in São Paulo, Brazil, is for a PLOS ONE paper (which was altered last year by a mega-correction). Although an institutional investigation found no evidence of research misconduct, the notice states:

the preparation of the figures falls below the standard of publication and therefore the authors and the editors have agreed that the correct action is to retract the article. 

Saad previously sued the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to remove expressions of concern from four of his papers published in the organisation’s flagship journal, Diabetes. However, all four of the papers were later retracted after the suit was dismissed in 2015.

Here’s the new retraction notice, issued July 8: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

July 13th, 2016 at 11:30 am

PLOS ONE pulls malaria study for “inappropriate manipulation” of figures

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PLOS OnePLOS ONE has retracted a malaria paper after an institutional investigation found evidence the authors had manipulated multiple figures.

According to the notice, the authors’ institution — the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in New Delhi, India — recommended the journal retract the paper.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued by PLOS ONE on June 30: Read the rest of this entry »

Diabetes researcher logged 1 retraction, 3 correx, after PubPeer comments

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Kathrin Maelder

Kathrin Maedler

A journal has retracted a paper by a leading diabetes researcher — who has also issued three corrections — after questions about her research were raised on PubPeer.

Kathrin Maedler — who works at the University of Bremen in Germany — corrected another paper in 2014. All of the notices are dated from 2015, and all describe issues with figures.

The ongoing comments have led Maedler to carefully look through her original data, according to a statement she emailed us: Read the rest of this entry »

PLOS ONE retracts 2 malaria papers over doubts experiments ever took place

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Authors have retracted a pair of PLOS ONE papers after an investigation suggested the articles might contain some fiction.

In the papers, the authors describe collecting and analyzing the DNA of mosquitoes to look for changes following the introduction of bed nets treated with insecticides to combat malaria. However, an investigation by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in France could not confirm some of the experiments ever took place.

Here’s the retraction notice for “How the Malaria Vector Anopheles gambiae Adapts to the Use of Insecticide-Treated Nets by African Populations,” which appears at the top of the paper:

Read the rest of this entry »

Conservative political beliefs not linked to psychotic traits, as study claimed

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American Journal of Political Science

Researchers have fixed a number of papers after mistakenly reporting that people who hold conservative political beliefs are more likely to exhibit traits associated with psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness.

As one of the notices specifies, now it appears that liberal political beliefs are linked with psychoticism. That paper also swapped ideologies when reporting on people higher in neuroticism and social desirability (falsely claiming that you have socially desirable qualities); the original paper said those traits are linked with liberal beliefs, but they are more common among people with conservative values.

We’re not clear how much the corrections should inform our thinking about politics and personality traits, however, because it’s not clear from the paper how strongly those two are linked. The authors claim that the strength of the links are not important, as they do not affect the main conclusions of the papers — although some personality traits appear to correlate with political beliefs, one doesn’t cause the other, nor vice versa.

In total, three papers have been corrected by authors, and a correction has been submitted on one more.

We’ll start with an erratum that explains the backstory of the error in detail. It appears on “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies,” published by the American Journal of Political Science: Read the rest of this entry »

PLOS ONE republishes removed chronic fatigue syndrome data

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PLOS OnePLOS ONE has republished data that were abruptly removed two weeks ago after the authors expressed concerns they did not have permission to release them.

The dataset — de-identified information from people with chronic fatigue syndrome — was removed May 18, noting it was “published in error.” But this week, the journal republished the dataset, saying the authors’ university had been consulted, and the dataset could be released.

This paper has drawn scrutiny for its similarities to a controversial “PACE” trial of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Here’s the second correction notice for “Therapist Effects and the Impact of Early Therapeutic Alliance on Symptomatic Outcome in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” released June 1:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

June 3rd, 2016 at 11:30 am