Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘elsevier’ Category

“We do not want to create false hope”: Authors retract Cell paper they can’t replicate

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A few years ago, researchers in Sweden had something to celebrate: They thought they had discovered a chink in the armor of the most common type of malignant brain cancer.

In a 2014 Cell paper, the team — led by Patrik Ernfors at the Karolinska Institutet — reported that they had identified a small molecule that could target and kill glioblastoma cells — the cancer that U.S. Senator John McCain was just diagnosed with — and prolong survival in mice with the disease. 

Satish Srinivas Kitambi, the paper’s first author, who is also based at the Karolinska Institutet, said the results got the team “really excited:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

July 20th, 2017 at 11:05 am

NIH neuroscientist up to 19 retractions

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Stanley Rapoport.
Source: NIH

The string of apparent bad luck continues for Stanley Rapoport.

Rapoport, a neuroscientist based at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, has lost three more papers in three journals due to the misconduct of his co-authors. By our count, these retractions bring his tally to 19 — and tie him for 21st place on our leaderboard.

The journals—Schizophrenia Research, Journal of Affective Disorders, and Biological Psychiatry— retracted the papers because the National Institutes of Health had found that one of Rapoport’s co-authors, Jagadeesh Rao, had “engaged in research misconduct by falsifying data.” Rao was corresponding author on all three papers.

According to a spokesperson for Elsevier, which publishes the journals, the Schizophrenia Research paper was retracted in July, the JAD paper in late May and the Biological Psychiatry paper in late April. The spokesperson told us that the publisher first received an email from the NIH about the misconduct findings on September 20, 2016, and that: Read the rest of this entry »

Want to appeal a journal’s rejection? Sure — that’ll be $700

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Different journals follow different editorial policies — but we’ve never seen any charge money to authors who want to appeal an editorial decision. Until now.

Recently, a criminal justice researcher sent us links to multiple journals that charge appeal fees. For instance, the Journal of Accounting Research says authors must pay $500 for each submission — and another $500 if they want the journal to reconsider its decision to reject the paper.

Under “Appeals,” the journal writes:

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Lancet retracts (and replaces) paper a year after authors report error that changes “all numbers”

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In March 2016, researchers in Switzerland and Canada published a meta-analysis in The Lancet, exploring the optimal painkiller and dose for treating pain in knee and hip osteoarthritis. Soon after, the authors were informed of an error that would change “all numbers” in a paper that may influence clinical practice.

The authors contacted The Lancet immediately, in July 2016, to inform them of the issue. Sven Trelle, the paper’s corresponding author, also told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

July 10th, 2017 at 11:02 am

The retraction countdown: How quickly do journals pull papers?

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After Tina Wenz was found guilty of scientific misconduct, how long did it take for journals to retract the problematic papers?  The answer: Between three and nine months.

In September 2016, the University of Cologne found that Wenz had committed scientific misconduct in six papers and requested they all be retracted. From that point on, the retraction clock was ticking.

We’ve explored how long it takes a journal to act over the years, and we’ve found that the time between identifying a problem to retracting the paper can vary — and sometimes last years.

In Wenz’s case, one of the papers—published in Cell Metabolism in 2009—had already been retracted in 2015. Three of the remaining five were retracted in December 2016—a 2008 paper in Cell Metabolism, a 2009 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), and a 2009 paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

In January 2017, the journal IUBMB Life pulled a 2014 paper flagged in the investigation. And just over nine months after Wenz was found guilty of misconduct, the last paper—published in 2013 in Mitochondrion—has been retracted.

The most recent notice states that the University of Cologne requested the retractions, after determining that the data had been “inappropriately manipulated.”

Here’s the retraction notice in Mitochondrion:

Read the rest of this entry »

“The correct values are impossible to establish:” Embattled nutrition researcher adds long fix to 2005 paper

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A Cornell food researcher who has pledged to re-analyze his papers following heavy criticism of his work has issued a major correction to a 2005 paper.

The correction tweaks two tables, a figure, and the description of the methodology — and notes in two instances the correct findings are unknown, since the original data are unavailable. Andrew Gelman, a statistician at Columbia University and critic of Brian Wansink’s work, has dubbed the notice the “best correction ever.”

The paper, about whether changing the name of food influences its taste, was not among the batch of papers initially flagged by critics last year. Since then, researchers have raised additional questions about Wansink’s work; one of his papers was retracted in April. That same month, an internal review by Cornell University concluded that Wansink made numerous mistakes, but did not commit misconduct.

When we contacted Wansink about the correction, we received this statement from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, which Wansink directs:

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Written by Alison McCook

July 4th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Fake peer review strikes again for pair of authors

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Two authors who had a paper retracted for fake peer review in 2015 have lost another for the same reason.

Elsevier recently retracted the second paper by the duo, a 2015 paper in a cancer journal, after finding evidence of fake peer review. The paper was submitted in October 2014 and accepted just a week before our piece on fake peer review appeared in Nature.

According to the notice, after investigating the paper, which appeared in Cancer Letters, the publisher concluded that it was accepted “based upon the positive advice of at least two faked reviewer reports.” The notice also explained that the identities of several authors “could not be confirmed.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

June 29th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Quick: What does fish food have to do with X-rays? In this case, an Elsevier production error

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An MRI of a fish, not involved in this study. (via Wikimedia)

In 2012, a study claiming to show — after some intentional statistical tricks — that a dead salmon had brain activity in an fMRI won a prestigious (and hilarious) Ig Nobel Prize.

So five years later, when Bálint Botz tweeted wryly about a study of fish and plants in a radiology journal, we thought, “Aha, someone is trying to create another red herring!”

But alas, it turns out the reason a journal normally concerned with X-rays would suddenly be interested in aquaponics was far more prosaic: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 13th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Drug researcher up to ten retractions

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A pharmaceutical researcher has received his tenth retraction. The reason, once again: duplicating his previous work.

Giuseppe Derosa, based at the University of Pavia in Italy, lost a 2011 paper this month after journal editors identified “substantial duplication of an earlier published paper.” According to the notice, the authors failed to cite the previous work and to disclose that the manuscript had been published or was under consideration elsewhere.

Derosa has a habit of reusing clinical trial data in multiple papers. He received his first four retractions in 2015 for publishing the same clinical trial results six times—two of those papers were retracted over the summer and two more several months later. By 2016, a fifth from the bunch was retracted (one of the six still stands). Derosa received another retraction, citing duplication (which we covered here and which was not related to the six clinical trials).

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Journal retracts nine papers in one day by author under investigation at the Weizmann Institute

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On April 27, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) retracted nine papers by a researcher based in Israel, including some dating back to 2000.

The reason: Image manipulation.

Michal Neeman, vice president of The Weizmann Institute of Science, told us that the researcher, Rony Seger, is under investigation following an allegation of misconduct affecting papers in multiple journals.

So far, we’ve found 11 retractions for papers by Seger, a molecular biologist. In the notices, the authors state they have “full confidence” in the findings, and in many instances have replicated the work.

According to Neeman:

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