Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘elsevier’ Category

Physics journal retracts paper without alerting author

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annals-of-physics

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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microvascular-research

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 »

Data were “fraudulently obtained” in epilepsy paper, probe finds

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brain-research-bulletinA brain research journal has retracted a 2016 study about epilepsy after an institutional investigation determined that some of the data were taken from another published paper.

The retraction notice for the study — which appeared in Brain Research Bulletin — cites an investigation by the scientific integrity committee at Tongji University in Shanghai, China, which concluded the authors had engaged in “unethical publishing behavior.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Clc-2 knockout attenuated experimental temporal lobe epilepsy in mice by tonic inhibition mediated by GABAA receptors:” Read the rest of this entry »

Renewable energy researcher with troubled record loses another paper

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renewable-sustainable-energy-reviewsA renewable energy researcher who recycled material in several papers — and has already agreed to withdraw 10 studies — has lost another paper.

In January, we reported that six of 10 papers flagged by an investigation into author Shyi-Min Lu have either been retracted or withdrawn. Now, Lu has lost another paper that was not among the previous ten — again, for reproducing figures from earlier works without seeking permission from original authors. This paper was on a hot topic: gas hydrates, considered to be a potential new energy source to replace oil in the 21st century.

The investigations into Lu’s work took place at the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Hsinchu, Taiwan, where he was formerly based, and the National Taiwan University, in Taipei, Taiwan, which fired Lu from his position at the university’s energy research center.

Here’s the retraction notice in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, issued last month: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract 2016 cancer study when data don’t align with figures

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cell-death-and-differentiationResearchers have retracted a 2016 cancer study, citing discrepancies between the data and images presented in the paper. 

Although the retraction notice itself contains relatively little information, we’ve obtained a letter from the last author — Jun-Li Luo of The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida — to the editor-in-chief of Cell Death and Differentiation that says a bit more. 

According to the letter, after receiving the anonymous email, Luo conducted an investigation, contacting co-authors who contributed each of the figures in question. Although Luo writes that he has no reason to suspect fraud, the researchers were not able to provide some of the original data.

PubPeer commenters have questioned figures 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the study, “IKKα-mediated biogenesis of miR-196a through interaction with Drosha regulates the sensitivity of cancer cells to radiotherapy.”

In the letter, Luo tells Gerry Melino, co-editor-in-chief of the journal from the University of Leicester, UK, that figures 3D and 3E were provided by the study’s first author, Xing Fang, adding: 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 »

Social networking site privacy breach complaint prompts retraction

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patients-like-meA journal has removed a paper after realizing it contained a verbatim quote from a patient that could reveal the patient’s identity.

The journal learned of the slip-up after receiving a complaint from a social networking site for patients called PatientsLikeMe, which enables people with similar conditions to connect with each other. The retracted paper — ironically about automatically sanitizing private information on social networking sites — included a brief quote from an HIV-positive user of the site, containing specific dates and infections the patient had experienced.

The corresponding author of the study in Expert Systems and Applications confirmed to us that the letter from PatientsLikeMe about two lines of text in the study triggered its removal.

The journal has republished an updated version of the paper without the problematic text. 

Here’s an excerpt from the complaint, sent by Paul Wicks, Principal Scientist and Vice President of Innovation at PatientsLikeMe, to the researchers and the journal in December 2015: Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. gov’t researchers withdraw climate paper after using pseudonyms

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adv-space-resClimate scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have withdrawn a study they wrote under eyebrow-raising pseudonyms.

The withdrawn paper, about predicting surface temperatures of planets, appeared in Advances in Space Research in August, 2015, and is authored by Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez.

Normally, a withdrawal wouldn’t raise our eyebrows, but climate scientist Gavin Schmidt pointed out on Twitter that the authors’ names are eerily similar to another pair who have published climate papers together: Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. Yes, that’s correct — Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez are Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller spelled backwards. Nikolov and Zeller are currently listed as a physical scientist and a meteorologist, respectively, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The notice doesn’t state the reason for withdrawal, and Pascal Willis, editor-in-chief of Advances in Space Research from the Earth Physics Institute in Paris, France, referred us to the study’s authors for more information. Elsevier, which publishes Advances in Space Research, confirmed that the paper was retracted due to an “authorship issue” — namely, that the authors had used pseudonyms.

We used the contact information listed on the paper for “Den Volokin,” and got this response: Read the rest of this entry »

How can we improve preclinical research? Advice from a diabetes researcher

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Daniel Drucker

Daniel Drucker

By all accounts, science is facing a crisis: Too many preclinical studies aren’t reproducible, leading to wasted time and effort by researchers around the world. Today in Cell Metabolism, Daniel Drucker at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto details numerous ways to make this early research more robust. His most important advice: more transparent reporting of all results (not just the positive findings), along with quantifying, reporting, tracking, and rewarding reproducibility, for both scientists and journals and universities/research institutes.

Retraction Watch: Which of your recommendations will researchers most object to, and why? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 13th, 2016 at 12:05 pm