Archive for the ‘elsevier’ Category
When journals learn papers are problematic, how long does it take them to act?
We recently had a chance to find out as part of our continuing coverage of the case of Anil Jaiswal at the University of Maryland, who’s retracted 15 papers (including two new ones we recently identified), and has transitioned out of cancer research. Here’s what happened.
As part of a public records request related to the investigation, we received letters that the University of Maryland sent to 11 journals regarding 26 “compromised” papers co-authored by Jaiswal, four of which had been retracted by the time of the letter. The letters were dated between August and September 2016 (and one in February) — although, in some cases, the journals told us they received the letter later. Since that date, three journals have retracted nine papers and corrected another, waiting between four and six months to take action. One journal published an editorial note of concern within approximately two months after the university letter.
And six journals have not taken any public action.
Last year, a researcher cast doubt on a bone scientist’s clinical trials, suggesting some of the findings may not be legitimate. So what’s happened since?
Since 2015, journals have retracted 14 papers by bone researcher Yoshihiro Sato, based at Mitate Hospital in Japan, for issues ranging from self-plagiarism, to problems with data, to including co-authors without their consent. (We covered the latest two retractions this week.) Last year’s analysis identified patterns in more than 30 of Sato’s clinical trials that suggest systematic problems with the results. (Sato has defended his research.)
With doubts cast on Sato’s body of work, we contacted the journals that have published his papers involving human trials, to see if any taken another look at Sato’s work; several responded. While most believe there is little reason to take further action at this time, some told us they are investigating.
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According to the most recent retraction notices, issued by Applied Surface Science, the four papers duplicated several figures and portions of text from the authors’ previous works. Although the notices do not single out a responsible party, last year the Mumbai Mirror reported that first and corresponding Naba K. Sahoo had been accused of duplication by colleagues at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), part of Indian government’s Department of Atomic Energy.
(In a bizarre twist, Sahoo also made the news recently for getting into a fist fight with another BARC scientist.)
Sahoo received two retractions last year for duplication, sometimes inelegantly referred to as “self-plagiarism.” All six of his retractions affect papers published by Applied Surface Science between 2005 and 2007.
In February, Lusine Abrahamyan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, was contacted by ResearchGate. Her name was listed on a 2016 paper in a heart journal, the site told her — was Abrahamyan indeed a co-author?
Um, no, she was not. In fact, before that moment, she didn’t know such a paper existed.
It turns out, Abrahamyan had supervised the thesis of the first author — who, she soon learned, had also published an identical paper in another heart journal. Both have since been retracted.
How did this happen?
In addition, some of the work was apparently covered by a copyright agreement.
Both papers were co-authored by the same three people. The idea theft came to light after one of the co-authors received a complaint from her former supervisor, prompting her to contact the publisher to resolve the issue.
SCOPUS, the publication database maintained by Elsevier, has discontinued nearly 300 journals since 2013, including multiple journals published by OMICS Publishing Group.
Although the reasons the widely used database gives for discontinuing journals often vary, in all cases OMICS journals were removed over “Publication Concerns.”
Here’s what SCOPUS said recently about how it vets journals:
Ask and ye shall receive: A journal has retracted a 2014 paper by Paolo Macchiarini, upon request from the Karolinska Institutet (KI).
The latest news is only one step in a long-running saga about former star surgeon Macchiarini, who was dismissed from KI last year. To read more, check out our timeline.
KI announced it was asking the journal to pull the paper late last year, after concluding that four authors — including Macchiarini — were guilty of scientific misconduct. The paper had already been flagged by the journal with an expression of concern, noting the data presented in the paper may not be “fully representative” of the experiments.
Today, the journal issued a retraction notice, saying the authors wanted to retract the paper. All of the authors who could be reached have agreed to the retraction, including Macchiarini.
Here’s more from the notice:
Attention Joachim Boldt: The 1990s are calling, and they want their papers back.
The Annals of Thoracic Surgery has retracted two papers from the early 1990s on which Boldt was the first author – bringing the retraction tally for the disgraced German anesthesiologist to 96, by our count. Both articles were found to contain manipulated data.
The first paper, from 1990, was titled “Acute Preoperative Plasmapheresis and Established Blood Conservation Techniques,” and was written when Boldt was on the faculty at Justus-Liebig University, in Giessen.
According to the notice:
Microbiologist Elies Bik is well-known for applying a close eye to studies, and has spent years anonymously submitting reports on plagiarism and image duplication to journal editors. Last year, she published an analysis of work, with troubling results – that 1 in 25 biomedical papers contains inappropriate duplications in images. She’s never stopped reading papers closely, and recently flagged one on Twitter for concerns about its methodology. Although Bik is not against animal research, she said the treatments rats faced in the paper made her queasy – and didn’t seem justified. She explains her reasoning below.
Last week, we wrote about a somewhat remarkable retraction, of a 15-year-old paper by a current Illinois senator who used to be a mathematician. At the time, we were a bit perplexed by the language of the notice, which the senator — who helpfully took our call — couldn’t answer, since he wasn’t involved in drafting the notice.
We’ve since heard back from the journal that retracted the paper, which explained that their phrase that “most results are false” meant the findings by state senator Daniel Biss were inaccurate — not fraudulent.
Here’s more explanation from a joint statement sent to us by Jan van Mill and Jerry Vaughan, the editors in chief of Topology and its Applications: