Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘elsevier’ Category

Lancet retracts and replaces news story about controversial abortion drug

with one comment

The Lancet has retracted a journalist-written piece about a controversial drug used off-label to induce abortions, and replaced it with a corrected version.

In the retraction notice, the journal said it “removed the information that we believe to be inaccurate.”

The article, first published Oct. 28, 2017, highlights Pfizer’s decision to withdraw the drug, misoprostol, from the French market in 2018, and explores the ongoing debate surrounding its uses and safety. Approved to treat ulcers, misoprostol is more often used off-label to induce labor or medical abortions, despite reports of serious side effects, including hemorrhaging and birth defects “sometimes associated with fetal death.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

November 21st, 2017 at 11:30 am

A physics journal agreed to retract a paper several months ago. It’s still not retracted.

without comments

A physics journal says it has planned for several months to retract a 2006 paper by a prominent researcher with multiple retractions, after a concerned reader notified the editor about extensive duplication.

But, more than seven months after receiving the complaint, the journal Thin Solid Films has not yet taken action.

So what’s taking so long?

According to the editor, Joseph Greene, the delay occurred because “the publication team missed the request.”

Duplication allegations have followed the paper’s corresponding author Naba K. Sahoo for the past few years. Sahoo, a top physicist in India, has already had seven papers retracted for duplication—five earlier this year (1, 2), and two last year.

Although we did not hear back from the journal or the publisher, Elsevier, forwarded email correspondence provide insights about the Thin Solid Films paper. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

November 16th, 2017 at 8:00 am

The “phantom reference:” How a made-up article got almost 400 citations

with 19 comments

Here’s a mystery: How did a nonexistent paper rack up hundreds of citations?

Pieter Kroonenberg, an emeritus professor of statistics at Leiden University in The Netherlands, was puzzled when he tried to locate a paper about academic writing and discovered the article didn’t exist. In fact, the journal—Journal of Science Communications—also didn’t exist.

Perhaps Kroonenberg’s most bizarre discovery was that this made-up paper, “The art of writing a scientific article,” had somehow been cited almost 400 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

Anne-Wil Harzing, a professor of International Management at at Middlesex University in London, who recounted Kroonenberg’s discovery in her blog, wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

November 14th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Senior NOAA appointee calls for retraction of paper on illegal fishing

with one comment

Chris Oliver

A top US official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was recently appointed by President Donald Trump, has called for the retraction of a paper that suggests the country exports a significant amount of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

The paper, published July 6 in Marine Policy, estimated that in 2015 approximately one-fifth of Alaska pollock exports to Japan were either illegal, unreported, or unregulated — a value of as much as $75 million.

In an Oct. 11 letter (first reported by IntraFish), Chris Oliver, NOAA assistant administrator for fisheries, criticized the paper’s methodology for calculating the illegal hauls.

Oliver wrote to the journal’s editor-in-chief to say that the National Marine Fisheries Service: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

November 6th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Reporter’s inquiry prompts financial disclosure in autism paper

with one comment

Via Wikimedia

Title: Promoting child-initiated social-communication in children with autism: Son-Rise Program intervention effects

What caught our attention: When journalist Brendan Borrell was investigating a controversial autism treatment program for Spectrum, he came across a study where lead author Kat Houghton failed to disclose a prior relationship with the treatment center that taught the program, called Son-Rise.

The Spectrum article notes:

Read the rest of this entry »

A journal printed a sharp critique of a paper it had published. If only it had checked with the authors first.

with 7 comments

In 2016, researchers published a paper showing that an RNA molecule may be overactive in breast tumor tissue. But after reading the paper, three biologists believed the data supported the opposite conclusion.

What happened after that is a tale of misunderstandings and unnecessarily bruised feelings. We’ve seen plenty of cases where researchers ignore criticism, which at first glance seemed to be the case here. But upon closer inspection, it wasn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

October 11th, 2017 at 8:05 am

Journal to retract paper called “anti-vaccine pseudoscience”

with 5 comments

A journal is planning to retract a paper that purported to link a component of vaccines to autism in mice.

The paper, about the effects of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines on the immune response in the brains of mice, is the second retraction for co-authors Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic, of the University of British Columbia. The journal’s editor told us he and the authors are jointly retracting the paper. 

Just over a month old, the paper has already received plenty of criticism. Numerous commenters on PubPeer have allegedly identified image duplications and other problems with the paper. One commenter described “clear and deliberate” removal of control results in the paper, while others suggested gel bands were duplicated within the paper, and appear similar to those from another paper published in 2014 by Shaw and Tomljenovic. In a blog post, David Gorski, a professor and surgeon at Wayne State University, called the paper “antivaccine pseudoscience.”

Shaw, the paper’s last author, told us that his lab became aware of the PubPeer discussion a few weeks after publication:  Read the rest of this entry »

Second retraction for psychologist reveals clues about culprit behind misconduct

with 2 comments

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 4th, 2017 at 10:57 am

Journal adds concern notice to paper by psychologist Jens Förster

without comments

A social psychology journal has added an expression of concern to a paper by prominent social psychologist Jens Förster, whose work has been subject to much scrutiny.

This is the latest in a long-running saga involving Förster. The 2012 paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology had been flagged by a 2015 report describing an investigation into Förster’s work, which had concluded the paper likely contained unreliable data. Several other papers that received similar designations in that report have either been retracted or received expressions of concern (EoC).

The (paywalled) notice provides a lengthy explanation for why the journal chose to add an EoC, rather than retract the paper, as the University of Amsterdam had recommended. Here is an excerpt:

Read the rest of this entry »

Author blamed for misconduct in Cell paper declines to sign retraction notice  

with one comment

Researchers have retracted a 2015 paper in Cell after an investigation revealed the first author committed misconduct.

According to the retraction notice, which first author Ozgur Tataroglu declined to sign, the researchers realized there was an issue with the 2015 paper when they were unable to replicate the findings. Corresponding author Patrick Emery and his team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester reviewed the data and found “clear evidence” that Tataroglu  — who had been a postdoc in Emery’s lab — “had repeatedly misrepresented and altered primary data,” the notice states.

UMass subsequently conducted an investigation in which it “concluded that the first author committed scientific misconduct.”  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Calcium and SOL Protease Mediate Temperature Resetting of Circadian Clocks:” Read the rest of this entry »