Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘elsevier’ Category

“The results were so perfect” — and now they’re being retracted

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journal-of-photochemistry-and-photobiologyRecently, François-Xavier Coudert, a researcher at the Research Institute of Chemistry of Paris in France, noticed something strange: A nearly perfect image in a chemistry paper, with none of the typically expected “noise.”

Last week, he started a thread on PubPeer, alerting readers to his concerns — namely, that a microscopy image showed hexagons with crisp edges. The author responded that the students had been working to obtain a “perfect hexagonal structure,” and had adjusted the contrast of the image to make it seamless. But, the author noted, the paper was being retracted for other reasons.

Indeed, a spokesperson for Elsevier, which publishes the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (JPB), has confirmed to us the paper will be retracted. Here’s the upcoming notice for “Influence of humic acid on the stability and bacterial toxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticles in water,” which cites image duplication as the reason: Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Journal flags paper at center of authorship dispute

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carbohydrate-polymersA journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a nanofilm paper after a researcher protested being left off the author list. 

According to the notice in Carbohydrate Polymers, the University of Calcutta in West Bengal, India, where the research was carried out, has “failed to provide evidence of a thorough, fair, and proper investigation of this claim,” despite being presented with evidence from both sides.

The study’s last and corresponding author told us that his former student, who had previously co-authored some abstracts, got in touch with journal, alleging to be an author of the present paper. 

Here’s the EOC for “Cationic guar gum orchestrated environmental synthesis for silver nano-bio-composite films:” Read the rest of this entry »

Child psychiatrist flagged for misconduct loses two more papers

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Mani PavuluriA child psychiatrist has lost two papers after an institutional investigation concluded that she intentionally misrepresented children’s medication history in her research.

In November 2015, we reported on a retraction for Mani Pavuluri in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience following a probe at the University of Illinois at Chicago, her institution, which concluded that there was a “preponderance of evidence” that Pavuluri had committed misconduct. 

After an “unanticipated event” took place during a study, three studies by Pavuluri were halted and a letter was sent out to 350 research subjects, informing them of errors in the work. At the time, the Illinois spokesperson noted that Pavuluri — who, according to her LinkedIn page, is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry — was also asked to retract two 2013 studies in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Those papers have now been retracted, noting that Pavuluri “intentionally and knowingly” misrepresented children’s medication history.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Deficits in emotion recognition in pediatric bipolar disorder: The mediating effects of irritability:” Read the rest of this entry »

A paper on chemical safety was accepted one day after submission. Was it peer reviewed?

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Toxicology Reports

Some scientists raise their eyebrows when they see a paper was accepted only a day or two after being submitted — which is exactly what happened during an academic debate over a controversial topic: e-cigarettes.

In 2015, a group of Harvard researchers published a paper in Environmental Health Perspectives suggesting the flavoring added to e-cigarettes could be harmful; the next year, another group criticized the paper in the journal, noting the chemicals may not be as dangerous as the original paper claimed. The Harvard researchers then fired back, noting that the criticism cited two papers that were accepted within one and three days after submission, and therefore “appear not to have been peer reviewed.”

However, a little digging suggests otherwise. 

The editor of the journal that published both of the cited papers in question — Toxicology Reports — told us the papers were peer reviewed at Toxicology, but transferred to his journal as part of a process known as portable peer review.

Here are more details from Lawrence Lash, editor-in-chief of Toxicology Reports from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 5th, 2016 at 9:35 am

Oh, well — “love hormone” doesn’t reduce psychiatric symptoms, say researchers in request to retract

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It turns out, snorting the so-called “love hormone” may not help reduce psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

At least, that’s the conclusion the authors of a 2015 meta-analysis, which initially found intranasal doses of oxytocin could reduce psychiatric symptoms, have now reached. After a pair of graduate students pointed out flaws in the paper, the authors realized they’d made some significant errors, and oxytocin shows no more benefit than placebo.

First author Stefan Hofmann from Boston University in Massachusetts explains further in a lengthy letter he sent to Psychiatry Research, which he passed on to us: Read the rest of this entry »

German university recommends that six papers be retracted following probe

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200px-siegel_uni-koeln_grau-svgThe University of Cologne has conducted an investigation into the research of Tina Wenz, and determined that six papers should be pulled due to scientific misconduct.

In a release issued last week (as first reported by Leonid Schneider), the university lists six papers that “present scientific misconduct,” according to our Google Translate.

One of the six papers was already retracted last year by Cell Metabolism, which cited reused northern and western blot band images in two figures.

The other six papers are: Read the rest of this entry »

Physics journal retracts paper without alerting author

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An Elsevier journal has angered an author by removing his study without telling him.

After spending months asking the journal why it removed the paper — about a heavily debated theorem in physics — and getting no response, the author threatened to seek damages from the journal and publisher for “permanently stigmatizing” his work. Yesterday, an Elsevier representative told the author what happened: Experts told the journal the paper had a major mistake, so the journal decided to withdraw the study, but failed to tell the author due to an “internal error.”

That explanation didn’t satisfy study author Joy Christian, scientific director of the Einstein Centre for Local-Realistic Physics in Oxford, UK, who has demanded the journal either republish the article or remove it and return the copyright to him, or he will pursue legal action.

Here’s the cryptic publisher’s note for “Local causality in a Friedmann–Robertson–Walker spacetime:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

September 30th, 2016 at 12:00 pm

1st retraction for researcher who lost whistleblower lawsuit

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A researcher who was dismissed from Wayne State University — then lost a whistleblower lawsuit against it — has logged his first retraction.

In 2012, after Christian Kreipke was dismissed from Wayne State, he filed a lawsuit, alleging that the institution had defrauded the U.S. government of $169 million in research funding. A judge dismissed the case in 2014, noting Kreipke cited “no specific facts,” and as a public university, Wayne State had immunity as an “arm of the state.”

The university’s president has said Kreipke was fired due to misconduct — not his whistleblowing, according to Courthouse News Service

Now, a retraction has appeared for Kreipke in Microvascular Research, citing discrepancies between the original data and what was reported in the paper. 

Here’s the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Cell Press won’t retract papers despite one author confessing to fraud

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Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 18.54.35Cell Press journals will not be retracting two papers that were flagged with expressions of concern (EOCs) in April after one author claimed to have manipulated some experiments.

In a strange turn of events, as we previously reported, the study’s corresponding author refuted the claims of the author who confessed to fraud, citing concerns about his “motives and credibility.” Since then, two independent labs repeated the authors’ experiments, and “largely confirm” the central conclusions of a Cell paper, but were inconclusive regarding a paper in Molecular Cell. Regardless, in both cases, the journals have decided to take no further action. 

Both expressions of concern (and their associated editorial notes) will remain online, as part of the “permanent record,” a Cell Press spokesperson told us.

The spokesperson added more about the investigation process: Read the rest of this entry »