Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘plos’ Category

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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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PLOS One

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 »