Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘authorship issues’ Category

Neuroscience journal retracts expression of concern 15 years after investigation

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Here’s something we don’t get to write about often: A journal has retracted an expression of concern (EOC) more than 15 years after issuing it.

What took so long? Apparently, the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN) just recently learned about a review carried out by the author’s previous institution, which concluded that she had not committed misconduct.

Let’s take a look at the retraction note of the expression of concern, which was published last month: Read the rest of this entry »

Author dispute retracts paper suggesting NSAIDs curb growth in rats

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jpedorthoThe corresponding author asked the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics to retract an article that found popular pain medicines can curb growth in rats, in light of an unresolved authorship dispute.

The article, “Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Cause Inhibition of the Growth Plate in Cultured Rat Metatarsal Bones,” details preliminary results that indicate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce growth in rat bones in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting caution in treating chronic inflammatory diseases in children. The editor told us the paper was “highly rated” by reviewers and the results were “never in question,” but the senior author asked to pull the paper after failing to resolve a dispute with a researcher who asked to be added as an author.

According to the noticeRead the rest of this entry »

Chapter pulled from conference proceedings after authors didn’t attend

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978-3-662-47926-1

One of the papers in a book of presentations from a computing conference has been pulled after the editors realized the authors never made it to the meeting.

The book was supposed to comprise papers that were presented at the 2nd International Conference on Harmony Search, an algorithm that finds a vector which optimizes a particular function, based on the way musicians harmonize. So, how did material that wasn’t actually presented at the meeting end up in the volume? A spokesperson for the publisher, Springer, explained:

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Cell Press flags two papers after author confesses to fraud

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Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 8.45.56 PMNormally, when we see disputes over fraud allegations, it’s one author accusing another — but an unusual case at Cell has recently crossed our desk.

The journal has flagged a paper after an author confessed to committing fraud himself — but the corresponding author is disputing that confession, citing concerns about the confessor’s “motives and credibility.”

Independent labs are repeating the experiments to determine if the third author on the paper did, as he so claims, manipulate experiments. In the meantime, Cell and Molecular Cell have issued expressions of concern (EOCs) for two papers on which Yao-Yun Liang was a co-author. The notices cite an inquiry at Baylor College of Medicine, where the work was done, which was inconclusive, and recommended the journals take no action about the papers.

The EOCs are pretty much the same (both journals are published by Cell Press). Here’s the EOC that appears on “PPM1A functions as a Smad phosphatase to terminate TGFbeta signaling,” published in 2006 by Cell and cited 251 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science:

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When it takes a village to write a paper, what does it mean to be an author?

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Spencer Klein

Spencer Klein

We have seen plenty of projects unravel due to disputes over authorship, so we know this is a crucial issue in publishing. And the more authors are involved, the more issues can arise. So what happens when there are hundreds – or even thousands of authors on a single paper? Spencer Klein, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a Research Physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, offers some suggestions for how mega-collaborations could think differently about authorship.

Over the past few years, Retraction Watch has hosted a number of interesting discussions about the meaning of authorship. Those discussions have, so far, missed one important issue: What should one do in mega-collaborations, with memberships the size of a large village? In my field (astro/nuclear/particle physics), papers with hundreds of authors are common, with recent papers by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, the two large experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, having 2,870 and 2,270 authors respectively. One 2015 joint paper appears to have broken an authorship record with more than 5100 authors. (It’s also an increasing issue in other fields, such as genetics – one 2015 paper listed 1,000 authors.)

The usual techniques for assembling author lists fail here; a 2,500-person negotiation is a non-starter.   Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

April 12th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Author appeared to use phony Caltech co-authors, up to 8 retractions

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ACBEA journal has retracted three articles from a chemist in Portugal with a history of problems with co-authors and data — the exact problems cited by the new notices.

Specifically, it appears as if Rodrigo J.G. Lopes made up the affiliations of multiple co-authors from the California Institute of Technology, causing the journal to “doubt the existence of the authors.”

Lopes first came to our attention in 2013, when he lost a paper in the Chemical Engineering Journal for including data he couldn’t have produced, as the lab lacked the necessary equipment. That had followed a previous retraction, when Lopes added co-authors without their permission. We’ve since found other retractions for Lopes, bringing his total to eight, by our count. Read the rest of this entry »

Poll: Should co-authors of a scientific paper be allowed to change their minds?

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lancetSince we reported Friday that multiple authors had asked to remove their names from a high-profile 2011 Lancet paper about a risky transplant surgery, a few readers have wondered: Should this be allowed?

To recap: The same day the journal announced it was tagging the controversial paper with an expression of concern, it issued a new erratum about the paper, removing three author names (one had already asked to be removed earlier). The highly cited paper has been under scrutiny ever since the last author, Paolo Macchiarini, has been facing allegations of misconduct, which most recently led to Macchiarini’s dismissal from the Karolinska Institutet. (Here’s our timeline of events to keep you abreast.)

It’s not surprising that a few of Macchiarini’s co-authors would want to distance themselves from this ever-expanding scandal, but should authors who originally signed onto a paper be able to change their minds? Let us know in our poll, below. Read the rest of this entry »

Lancet issues expression of concern for 2011 Macchiarini paper

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Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini

The Lancet has tagged an expression of concern onto a seminal 2011 paper by Paolo Macchiarini, the Italian surgeon whose work and conduct outside the operating room has earned months of  heavy criticism that recently culminated in his dismissal from the Karolinska Institutet.

Tracheobronchial transplantation with a stem-cell-seeded bioartificial nanocomposite: a proof-of-concept study,” which described the first case of a transplant using an artificial trachea seeded with the patient’s own stem cells, now bears an expression of concern from The Lancet editors, citing ongoing investigations. The journal has also removed three more authors from the paper, upon their request.

The expression of concern essentially presents the timeline of the controversy that led the journal to make this move:

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Mystery conflict between authors fells molecular bio paper

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mirna-journal-coverA journal has pulled a paper about tools to knock out a key transcription factor because of a conflict between the authors.

The retracted article is “Generation of Knock down Tools for Transcription Factor 7-like-2 (TCF7L2) and Evaluation of its Expression Pattern in Developing Chicken Optic Tectum,” published just last year in MicroRNA.

We’ll get right to the reason — the retraction note provides one short one:

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Fake email address — for author, not reviewer — fells another paper

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Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 10.19.43 AMWe’ve seen many cases of researchers creating fake email addresses to impersonate reviewers that usher their paper to publication.

But in the latest fake email incident, a journal is retracting a paper on liver cancer after the first author created a phony address for the last and corresponding author. Both are researchers at Zhengzhou University in China.

This isn’t the first time that an author has worked around the corresponding author: there’s a case from a few years ago in which the corresponding author didn’t know that the paper was being published at all. Recently, we also wrote about a doctor who was suspended in the UK after submitting papers without her co-authors’ knowledge, including creating a fake email for one of them.

This latest paper had another problem, too: plagiarism. Here’s the retraction note for “The influence of TLR4 agonist lipopolysaccharides on hepatocellular carcinoma cells and the feasibility of its application in treating liver cancer,” published in OncoTargets and Therapy:

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