Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘authorship issues’ Category

Is it possible (or ethical) to have six first authors on a scientific paper?

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sci-eng-ethcIn many fields, first authors on scientific papers represent the person who’s performed the bulk of the research. Sometimes, that determination can be difficult to make, so we’ve seen many papers that list multiple first authors, noting that each contributed equally to the work. But is it possible — or ethical — to claim six authors all deserve top billing on a paper?

In a recent letter in Science and Engineering Ethics, Govindasamy Agoramoorthy — at Sengamala Thayaar Educational Trust Women’s College in India and Tajen University in Taiwan — flags a 2014 paper in The Plant Journal that lists six first authors, noting all “contributed equally to this work.”

As Agoramoorthy notes in “Multiple First Authors as Equal Contributors: Is It Ethical?“:  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 15th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Two more retractions bring bone researcher’s total to 12

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jbmrA bone researcher based in Japan with 10 retractions under his belt has retracted two more papers for similar reasons — problems with the underlying data, and including co-authors who didn’t participate in the project.

In both notices, Yoshihiro Sato is pegged as responsible for the content of the papers. The newly retracted research covers a long timespan — one paper was published in 2000, the other in 2013.

Here’s the first notice, issued by the Journal of Bone and Mineral ResearchRead 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adv-space-resClimate scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have withdrawn a study they wrote under eyebrow-raising pseudonyms.

The withdrawn paper, about predicting surface temperatures of planets, appeared in Advances in Space Research in August, 2015, and is authored by Den Volokin and Lark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

Uranium study pulled after author says data were falsified

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Journal of the European Ceramic SocietyA researcher has pulled a paper about uranium oxide fuel pellets after notifying the journal the data had been falsified — and, what’s more, the publisher can’t verify the identities of the co-authors. 

Originally, the Journal of the European Ceramic Society paper suggested a way to increase the compatibility of uranium oxide fuel pellets, which are usually used in nuclear reactors, at high temperatures.  

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

Author loses five papers, most for “compromised” peer review

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PLOS OnePLOS ONE has retracted three papers after the first author admitted to submitting the manuscripts without co-authors’ consent, and an investigation suggested that two out of the three papers had received faked reviews.

Last August, the same author — Lishan Wang of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University — lost two more papers (one in Tumor Biology and the other in Gene), also after the peer review process was found to be compromised. All five papers — which share other authors in common — were originally published in 2013, and four list Wang as the first author. The retractions follow an investigation by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Here’s the retraction notice for two of the PLOS ONE papers, issued on July 26: Read the rest of this entry »

A headache: Brain paper retracted over author argument

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neurochemical researchResearchers have retracted a paper following an argument over who deserves top billing, according to the last author of the paper.

The last author added the authors plan to republish the paper once they work things out.

The work for the paper — about cell death in the aftermath of a brain hemorrhage — was started in one lab at the Department of Neurology at the Affiliated Hospital of Nantong University, and completed in another.

That led to a dispute, reports the retraction notice, issued by Neurochemical Research:

Read the rest of this entry »

PhD student expelled for submitting paper without co-authors’ consent

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PLOS OneA PhD student has been expelled from a university in China after publishing a paper in PLOS ONE without the permission of her co-authors, and using an external company to complete some of the work. 

PLOS ONE has now retracted the paper, noting that they were tipped off to the problems by a reader who raised concerns about some of the figures. The notice states that the study’s first author, Zhenni Zhang, takes full responsibility. 

The last author of the paper Zongfang Li from the Xi’an Jiaotong University in China — told us Zhang was his PhD student who was close to completing her PhD, but has now been expelled.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on July 25: Read the rest of this entry »

Bone researcher up to 10 retractions

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Neurology JournalA journal is retracting three papers and a letter from a bone researcher who admitted to scientific misconduct, noting that all co-authors were included only for honorary reasons.

We’ve previously reported on six retractions of papers co-authored by Yoshihiro Sato, who is based at Mitate Hospital in Japan, including one in JAMA. Retractions stemmed from the use of “honorary” co-authors, as well as concerns over the data. One paper seemed to be the victim of “extensive self-plagiarism.”

Sato, who is the first and corresponding author of all ten retractions (including the letter), accepted full responsibility of the newly retracted publications, noting that none of the co-authors took part in any misconduct.

Here’s the retraction notice — which is similar for all four new retractions — issued on July 12: Read the rest of this entry »

Author pulls study for duplication, blames editing company

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MedChemCommThe author of a paper about insulin has retracted it due to “extensive text and data overlap” with another paper.

In November 2015, MedChemComm issued an expression of concern (EOC) for the same paper. According to the EOC, the author of the paper, Yong Yang, flagged the paper to the journal, citing problems with authorship and portions of text overlap, which Yang attributed to an editing company.  

The editor-in-chief of the journal told us Yang’s institution — China Medical University — carried out an investigation into the case at the journal’s request.

We’ve also found a 2015 retraction for Yang, after he published a paper without the okay of his previous institution in Texas. 

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

4th retraction for neuroscientist sentenced for fraud

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Bruce Murdoch

Bruce Murdoch

A Parkinson’s researcher has earned his fourth retraction after receiving a two-year suspended sentence for fraud.

The sentence for Bruce Murdoch, issued on March 31, 2016, came following an investigation by his former employer, the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia, into 92 papers. Murdoch entered guilty pleas for 17 fraud-related charges, which resulted in the retraction of three papers co-authored by Murdoch and Caroline Barwood, another former UQ Parkinson’s researcher who faced fraud charges (and was granted bail in 2014).

Now, a fourth retraction has appeared for Murdoch in Brain Injury, this time for duplication and failing to obtain consent from his co-authors.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on July 11: Read the rest of this entry »