Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘society journal retractions’ Category

Plant scientist logs 4 more notices over figure errors

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Researchers in China have retracted a paper and corrected three others in a plant journal, citing problems with multiple figures.

Lixin Zhang, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, is corresponding author on all four papers, published by Plant PhysiologyWe’ve reported on three retractions and two corrections from Lixin Zhang and some of the same co-authors, bringing Zhang’s total to five retractions and four corrections, by our count.

According to the retraction notice, the authors agreed to pull the article because of figure-related “irregularities and inappropriate data handling” — but despite these issues, they remain confident that their conclusions are still valid.

Here’s the latest retraction notice, issued this February, for “Cooperation of LPA3 and LPA2 Is Essential for Photosystem II Assembly in Arabidopsis:”  Read the rest of this entry »

Scientist who sued university earns two more retractions, bringing total to five

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A scientist who sued his employer for millions of dollars has earned two more retractions, for papers that had already been flagged by the journal.

By our count, Rakesh Kumar now has five retractions and multiple corrections.

Kumar sued his employer, George Washington University, for $8 million, alleging emotional distress when they put him on leave from his position as department chair following a finding of misconduct. That suit was settled last year, for undisclosed terms.

The two newest retractions in the Journal of Biological Chemistry — which tagged the papers with Expressions of Concern last year — both state that, according to Kumar, the problematic figures were assembled by “specific co-authors” — unnamed — in his lab. Here’s the first notice:

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After lawsuit threat, journal forces author to heavily revise education paper

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Under threat of a lawsuit, an education journal changed its mind about publishing a paper that it had already accepted after peer review.

Last summer, Education Policy Analysis Archives, published by the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, informed San Francisco State University professor Stanley Pogrow that the journal would be publishing his paper criticizing a widely used reform intervention for schools in poor districts called Success For All.

According to Success For All‘s website, the program is currently used in more than 1,000 schools in 48 states and received just over $10.5 million in grant funding in 2015. In 2010, the program was one of four recipients of the U.S. Department of Education’s $50 million Investing in Innovation Scale‑up grant.

Yet when Success For All’s co-developer, Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins University, read a pre-publication draft of the paper, he threatened the journal with legal action if they published it. According to Slavin, the manuscript contained “libelous” and “defamatory” statements.

Subsequently, ASU declined to publish the accepted paper, and instead told Pogrow they would only publish a revised piece on the methodology used to evaluate which school interventions are effective — and thus should receive public funds. The revised paper does not directly mention Success For All or Slavin in the text (although it cites past articles by Pogrow criticizing the program). The revision, which Pogrow agreed to, “gutted the article,” he told us.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Megan Scudellari

March 15th, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Negligence by stressed-out postdoc led to retraction of high-profile paper, supervisor says

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The timing was tight, but Sergio Gonzalez had done it. Gonzalez, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Neurosciences of Montpellier (INSERM) in France, had a paper accepted in a top journal by the end of 2015, just in time to apply for a small number of highly sought-after permanent research positions that open up in France each year.

If Gonzalez had missed the January deadline for this system of advancement, known as concours, he would have had to wait until the following cycle to apply.

Once his paper was accepted by the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Gonzalez could breathe a sigh of relief. He began being invited to interviews. But then, a comment showed up at PubPeer.

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15-year old paper pulled for image problems

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A group of researchers in France has been forced to retract their 2002 article in the Journal of Virology after learning that the paper was marred by multiple image problems.

The paper, “P0 of Beet Western Yellows Virus Is a Suppressor of Posttranscriptional Gene Silencing,” came from the lab of Veronique Ziegler-Graff, a plant biologist at the University Louis Pasteur, in Strasbourg. The authors attribute some of the image problems to “genuine mounting mistakes,” and have repeated the experiments to confirm the conclusion, as have other labs. However, the researchers couldn’t find all the original data from the 2002 paper.

Although the retraction statement points the finger at the first author, Sebastien Pfeffer, the list of contributors includes Patrice Dunoyer, a frequent collaborator of Olivier Voinnet, a high-profile plant biologist whose work has come under intense scrutiny.

According to the lengthy notice:
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Journal flags another paper by diabetes researcher who sued to stop retractions

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It would seem that resorting to legal means to avoid editorial notices doesn’t always work.

We’re coming to that conclusion after seeing yet another notice for Mario Saad, based at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil. In this case, it’s an expression of concern from the Journal of Endocrinology, on a 2005 paper that lists Saad as the second-to-last author. According to the notice, the journal is concerned the paper contains spliced and duplicated images; although the authors offered to repeat the experiments, the journal considered that potential delay “unacceptable.”

Despite Saad’s legal efforts, he is now up to 11 retractions, along with multiple expressions of concern.

Here’s the full text of the notice (which is paywalled, tsk tsk):

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“Hindsight’s a bitch:” Colleagues dissect painful retraction

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Two blog posts are shining additional light on a recent retraction that included some unanswered questions — namely, the identity of the researcher who admitted to manipulating the results.

To recap: Psychological Science recently announced it was retracting a paper about the relationship between the words you use and your mood after a graduate student tampered with the results. But the sole author — William Hart, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama — was not responsible.

The post raised some questions — for instance, who was the graduate student, and if his or her work was so influential to a paper, why was he/she not listed as an author? Hart declined to identify the student, but two new blogs — including one by one of Hart’s collaborators at the University of Alabama — are providing more details.

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Author says he lied about approval for animal research

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A researcher in South Korea has retracted a 2015 paper after telling the journal he falsified the institutional approval required to conduct the animal experiments.

In the article, the author explicitly says that the Animal Experiment Review Board of a university based in Seoul, South Korea approved the experiments, but according to the journal, “the author did not receive an approval by the board and he used a false approval number.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “The role of compensatory movements patterns in spontaneous recovery after stroke,” published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science (JPTS) in September 2015 and retracted in December: Read the rest of this entry »

Unexplained abnormalities in stem cells prompt Columbia researchers to pull diabetes paper

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Researchers at Columbia University have retracted a 2013 paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, after uncovering abnormalities in the stem cell lines that undermined the conclusions in the paper.

Last year, corresponding author Dieter Egli discovered he could not reproduce key data in the 2013 paper because almost all the cell lines first author Haiqing Hua used contained abnormalities, casting doubt on the overall findings. When Egli reached out to Hua for answers, Hua could not explain the abnormalities. As a result, Hua and Egli agreed the paper should be retracted.

Since some of the details of how the paper ended up relying on abnormal cells remain unclear, the university confirmed to us that it is investigating the matter.

Here’s the retraction notice for “iPSC-derived β cells model diabetes due to glucokinase deficiency,” cited 42 times: Read the rest of this entry »

Coauthor’s past misconduct prompts dep’t chair to retract Diabetes study

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A department chair of a Swedish university asked to retract a 2010 study in Diabetes after none of the authors could explain image-related ambiguities.

The matter prompted particular attention because the paper’s first author, Pontus Almer Boström, had been found guilty of scientific misconduct by the University of Gothenburg in 2012, after Jan Borén noted some irregularities in data calculated by Boström. At that point, the research group combed the data to identify further issues arising from Boström’s work, and didn’t find any.

But last summer, when a user on PubPeer raised questions about some of the images in the 2010 paper, the matter was brought back into focus. According to Borén, they found “no evidence of scientific misconduct in this study.” But Boström had left the university in 2009 and could not be reached, the corresponding author had passed away, and the remaining co-authors hadn’t stayed in the field. So Borén decided it would be best to retract the study to avoid any “lingering questions.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “The SNARE Protein SNAP23 and the SNARE-Interacting Protein Munc18c in Human Skeletal Muscle Are Implicated in Insulin Resistance/Type 2 Diabetes,” in which Borén thanks “Peer 1″ on PubPeer for “detecting the ambiguities and bringing them to our attention:” Read the rest of this entry »