Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘freely available’ Category

Board member resigns from journal over handling of paper accused of plagiarism

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A biologist is crying foul at a journal’s decision to correct (and not retract) a paper he claims plagiarized his work — and one of his colleagues has resigned from the journal’s editorial board as a result.

The 2016 paper, published by Scientific Reports, is an application of a previously published algorithm designed to better identify regulatory sequences in DNA. The three authors, based at the Shenzhen campus of the Harbin Institute of Technology, used the technique to identify recombination spots in DNA. They called it SVM-gkm.

On April 2, Michael Beer of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore notified the editors of Scientific Reports that he believed the paper had plagiarized his work. Despite Beer’s efforts, the journal ultimately decided to issue a correction notice, which cites “errors” and the authors’ failure to credit Beer’s work. That isn’t good enough for Beer — nor one of his colleagues at Johns Hopkins, who resigned from the journal’s editorial board saying “the recent affair with Mike Beer’s work being plagiarized did not impress me.

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“Credible threats of personal violence” against editor prompt withdrawal of colonialism paper

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A journal has withdrawn an essay that called for a return to colonialism after the editor received alleged threats tied to the article.

Soon after Third World Quarterly published the controversial essay, readers began to object. When the journal defended its decision, 15 editorial board members resigned in response. More than 10,000 people signed a petition to have it retracted. On September 26, the publisher posted a statement — including a detailed timeline of the paper’s peer review process — and said the the author had requested to withdraw the article. However, in the statement, the publisher said that “peer-reviewed research articles cannot simply be withdrawn but must have grounds for retraction.”

The journal has since changed its position, and withdrawn the paper entirely from its site, posting this notice in its place:

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Case report of stem cell therapy in child didn’t meet “ethical standards,” says journal

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A journal has retracted a recent case report about a stem cell therapy in a child with cerebral palsy, after discovering the study failed to meet “ethical standards.”

According to the journal, Regenerative Medicine, the ethical issue is that the authors failed to report the case to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan, which violates the country’s guidelines for conducting stem cell research. Unfortunately, we don’t know much more than that about what happened.

Laura Dormer, editorial director of Future Science Group, which publishes Regenerative Medicine, explained that the paper’s first author, Masato Kantake, requested the retraction because: Read the rest of this entry »

Early data on potential anti-cancer compound now in human trials was falsified, company admits

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A pharmaceutical company has admitted that one of its former researchers falsified early data on a compound that’s designed to fight cancer, now in human trials.

The data, published as an abstract in August 2015 in the journal Cancer Research, reported a therapeutic benefit of acalabrutinib in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. The compound, developed by the company Acerta Pharma, has also been the subject of additional trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Blood in 2015. The 2015 NEJM study, which had several authors in common with the Cancer Research abstract, showed the agent had “promising safety and efficacy profiles in patients” with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

But an investigation into the data underlying the 2015 abstract shows some were falsified, prompting the journal to retract the abstract.

Ed Tucker, senior vice president of Medical Safety, Quality and Compliance at Acerta Pharma, told us that in August 2016 the company identified an issue with the data in the Cancer Research abstract and started an investigation:

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Nature adds alert to heavily debated paper about gene editing

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Nature has added an “editor’s note” to a high-profile August paper alerting readers to the fact that the article has been subject to criticism.

Journals often flag papers that are being debated — what’s unusual here is that the journal doesn’t label the notice as an official “Expression of Concern,” which are indexed by PubMed. Yet the Nature notice reads just like an expression of concern.

Here’s the text of the new notice, which was added October 2 (and spotted by Paul Knoepfler):

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Second retraction for psychologist reveals clues about culprit behind misconduct

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A social psychologist has retracted a second paper that contains “fabricated or manipulated data.”

The first retraction for William Hart at the University of Alabama — also due to data manipulation — appeared earlier this year. The notice raised some questions over authorship: Hart was the sole author, but he blamed the retraction on a graduate student who supplied the problematic data. The questions continued when Hart’s colleagues posted blogs about the problems that occurred in Hart’s lab, using a pseudonym to describe the student, who apparently admitted to fabricating data.  

The author of one of those blogs, Hart’s colleague Alexa Tullett, told us in March that she was retracting another paper she wrote with Hart and the unnamed graduate student. Recently, she confirmed this latest retraction is that paper.

Looking at the author list of the newest retraction, by process of elimination, we now have a lead on the identity of the graduate student who allegedly took responsibility for the misconduct.

Tullett told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

October 4th, 2017 at 10:57 am

Errors in govt database prompt authors to retract and replace paper in JAMA journal

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Researchers have retracted and replaced a June 2016 paper in JAMA Internal Medicine after discovering errors in their data.

The paper explored whether Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) — groups of health care providers who earn more when they deliver high-quality care without boosting costs  — improve care and lower health care costs for Medicare patients. The paper’s corresponding author, Carrie H. Colla, and her colleagues examined Medicare data over five years and found the ACOs provided “ modest savings on average”  and less hospital care.  

But the data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contained errors. According to Colla, after the paper was published, CMS “let us know in the fall [2016] that there were errors in the files, but weren’t able to give us final replacement files until winter.” Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Authors retract plant biology paper after they realized sample was contaminated

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Plant biologists from China have retracted a 2013 paper in The Plant Cell after discovering that some of the plant material used was “inadvertently contaminated.”

According to the retraction notice, the authors believe the contamination affects the main conclusion of their paper. Read the rest of this entry »