Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘sage’ Category

A prominent psychiatry researcher is dismissed. What’s happening to his papers?

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Alexander Neumeister. Source: Yale School of Medicine

After a prominent researcher was dismissed due to multiple instances of misconduct in his studies, how are journals responding?

When an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found multiple issues with the work of psychiatry researcher Alexander Neumeister, New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center shut down eight of his studies. (Disclosure: The author of this post is an NYU journalism student, but has no relationship with the medical school.) The agency concluded the studies, which involved using experimental drugs to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), were tainted by lax oversight, falsified records, and inaccurate case histories, according to the New York Times. (Neuroskeptic also recently analyzed the case.)

We reached out to the journals that have published Neumeister’s papers, to ask if these recent events have caused them to take a second look at his work. Several have responded, with some noting they plan to investigate, or will do so if asked by the institution. But many believe there is little cause for concern. Read the rest of this entry »

Heir claims part of review about political scientist is defamatory, journal partially retracts

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European Journal of CommunicationA communications journal has retracted parts of a paper about a famous German political scientist after her great-nephew threatened the journal with legal action, claiming bits of the paper were defamatory.

The European Journal of Communication (EJC) retracted the parts of the paper that reviewed a biography of Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, published in Germany in 2013. The biography was titled Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann: Demoskopin zwischen NS-Ideologie und Konservatismus;” a Google-translate of that title gives “Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann: pollster between Nazi ideology and conservatism.”

Noelle-Neumann is most well known for her mass communication theory, the “Spiral of Silence,” which refers to the tendency to remain silent on a subject when your view opposes that of the masses. Because parts of the paper are now redacted, it is unclear what statements were potentially defamatory. Read the rest of this entry »

Columbia investigation reveals researcher faked data — and a degree

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InnateImmunityA researcher faked data and a masters degree, according to an investigation by Columbia University.

He’s also earned his fourth retraction. The new notice, along with one we’ve uncovered from 2014, provide some information on the extent of the deception of Robert Frumento, who left Columbia a decade ago, around the time that the now-retracted papers were published.

Here’s the new retraction notice:

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Conservative political beliefs not linked to psychotic traits, as study claimed

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American Journal of Political Science

Researchers have fixed a number of papers after mistakenly reporting that people who hold conservative political beliefs are more likely to exhibit traits associated with psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness.

As one of the notices specifies, now it appears that liberal political beliefs are linked with psychoticism. That paper also swapped ideologies when reporting on people higher in neuroticism and social desirability (falsely claiming that you have socially desirable qualities); the original paper said those traits are linked with liberal beliefs, but they are more common among people with conservative values.

We’re not clear how much the corrections should inform our thinking about politics and personality traits, however, because it’s not clear from the paper how strongly those two are linked. The authors claim that the strength of the links are not important, as they do not affect the main conclusions of the papers — although some personality traits appear to correlate with political beliefs, one doesn’t cause the other, nor vice versa.

In total, three papers have been corrected by authors, and a correction has been submitted on one more.

We’ll start with an erratum that explains the backstory of the error in detail. It appears on “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies,” published by the American Journal of Political Science: Read the rest of this entry »

Concerns attached to three more papers by retraction-laden management researcher

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Fred Walumbwa

Fred Walumbwa

Fred Walumbwa, a management researcher with eight seven retractions, has received three expressions of concern from two journals after he failed to provide raw data following an investigation into potential errors.

In the past, Walumbwa has said he only keeps data until his papers are published, but a lack of raw data has become a common theme in his notices, which now also include four corrections, and one other EOC (making a new total of four). There are no standard rules about how long to store raw data, but one journal that issued two of the new EOCs has since updated its submission policy to require that authors keep data for at least five years.

Walumbwa currently works at Florida International University. When concerns about the statistics were raised about five of his papers in Personnel Psychology, the journal conducted an investigation that led to flagging two of those articles, the expression of concern explains:

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Makeup use linked to testosterone levels? Not so fast, says retraction

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Psych SciA psychology journal is retracting a 2015 paper that attracted press coverage by suggesting women’s hormone levels drive their desire to be attractive, after a colleague alerted the last author to flaws in the statistical analysis.

The paper, published online in November, found women prefer to wear makeup when there is more testosterone present in their saliva. The findings were picked up by various media including Psychology Today (“Feeling hormonal? Slap on the makeup”), and even made it onto

However, upon discovering a problem in the analysis of the data, the authors realized that central finding didn’t hold up, according to Psychological Science‘s interim editor, Stephen Lindsay: Read the rest of this entry »

Math journal retracts entire issue following peer-review problems

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home_coverThe editor of a special issue of a math journal — and author of many of the papers in it — has officially retracted the entire thing, after promising to withdraw it last year following issues with the review process.

According to the note in Mathematics and Mechanics of Solids, the peer-review process was “less rigorous than the journal requires.” Indeed, that process was coordinated by guest editor David Y. Gao, a mathematician at the Federation University Australia, who was also author on 11 of the 13 papers present in the issue.

Gao told us in November that he was withdrawing the issue because he thought it would be better suited as a book.

Here is the official retraction note, which focuses on the conflict of interest:

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Eight retractions for fake reviews lead journal to suspend author nominations

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home_cover (1)

An investigation has uncovered fake reviews on 21 papers submitted to the Journal of the Renin-Angiotensin Aldosterone System.

After taking a second look at accepted papers with an author-nominated reviewer, the journal discovered that the listed reviewers on the 21 papers, though real people, had never submitted a report.

Eight of the papers have been retracted by JRAAS. The rest had not yet been published, and have now been rejected, explains a commentary by the journal editors. The journal has also stopped allowing authors to nominate reviewers.

The retraction note — the same on all eight papers — explains how the authors “seriously compromised” the review process:

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Management researcher with 7 retractions issues “clarifications” to 2013 paper

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The authors of a paper on supportive supervisors just want readers to “better understand the reported findings,” and so have issued multiple “clarifications” in a corrigendum note.

Some of the issues addressed in the note have been raised on PubPeer.

The paper’s author list includes one Fred Walumbwa, formerly an Arizona State University management researcher, some of whose work has succumbed to scrutiny in the the past two years. His current list: seven retractions, a megacorrection, an expression of concern, and now this.

Unraveling the relationship between family-supportive supervisor and employee performance,” published in Group & Organization Management, has been cited twice, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the note in full:

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Author withdraws entire issue after overseeing his own peer review

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home_cover-31The editor and author of most of the papers in a special issue of a math journal told us he is withdrawing the entire issue following revelations that he had coordinated the peer-review process.

The articles, published online earlier this year, recently received an expression of concern after the journal realized the guest editor David Gao, at the Federation University Australia, had coordinated the peer-review process. This was a major no-no, since Gao was also an author of 11 of the 13 papers. Mathematics and Mechanics of Solids slated the articles to be peer reviewed again, by reviewers not chosen by Gao.

Gao told us what happened next, from his perspective — he changed his mind about publishing the papers in MMS:

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