Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘authorship issues’ Category

Fake peer review, forged authors, fake funding: Everything’s wrong with brain cancer paper

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The paper had everything: Fake peer review, forged authors, even a fake funder.

In other words, it had nothing.

A 2015 paper is the latest retraction stemming from an investigation into fake peer review by Springer, which has now netted more than a hundred papers.

According to a spokesperson at Springer: Read the rest of this entry »

Unintended consequences: How authorship guidelines destroyed a relationship

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It started as a simple email exchange over authorship. But it angered one researcher so much that it ended a 20-year collaboration.

In January 2017, a chemist based in Mexico had finished writing a paper describing the structure of a molecule. Sylvain Bernès, at the Instituto de Física Luis Rivera Terrazas, asked his co-author—the head of the lab where the molecule had been synthesized 10 years ago—to review the draft and include any co-authors involved in the initial work.

The researcher added three co-authors to the paper. Bernès became concerned. He wanted to follow the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) authorship recommendations as strictly as possible. As far as Bernès could tell, none of the new authors had actually contributed to the work, potentially violating the recommendation about authorship contributions. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

July 5th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Journal retracts two papers by authors who lifted others’ data

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A journal has retracted two 2014 papers after the editors discovered the authors used data from other research groups without permission.

The papers, both published in the same issue of Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics and retracted in May, suffered from similar issues—the authors published data that was not theirs. The authors are all based at different institutions in China; as far as we can tell, the papers do not have any authors in common.

When we asked the publisher whether a third party, such as a paper mill, may have been involved, a spokesperson for Springer told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Springer purge of fake reviews takes down 10+ more neuroscience papers

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Back in April, Springer retracted a record number 107 papers from Tumor Biology after uncovering evidence they were subject to fake peer reviews. But it appears that the Tumor Biology sweep was only part of the story.

During the Tumor Biology investigation, Springer found evidence that the “peer review process was compromised” in a dozen papers on brain cancer published in another journal. The 12 Molecular Neurobiology retractions have trickled in over the past year or so, published before and after the Tumor Biology sweep.

A spokesperson at Springer confirmed that the 12 retracted papers in Molecular Neurobiology were related to the Tumor Biology retractions for fake peer review: Read the rest of this entry »

When a tractor stabs a man in the eye, who gets to write up the case report?

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A journal has retracted a paper after the university notified the editors that the authors presented the gruesome details of a patient who they didn’t directly treat.

But the paper’s corresponding author disputes that claim, arguing that the first author — a radiologist, who has since passed away, provided a crucial diagnosis in this case. We’ve tried to track down the doctors who lodged a complaint about the paper, alleging they were “actually involved in the original patient treatment,” but have so far been unsuccessful.

The paper describes an unfortunate accident during which a man fell from his tractor and stabbed himself in the eye on part of the machine. Initially, doctors could not locate the eye and “believed it to have been completely destroyed,” and discharged the patient after seven days. One week later he was back, complaining of headaches — and doctors found the eye embedded deep inside the skull, intact.

According to the retraction notice, issued by the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, an investigation by a university in Iran determined the doctors who initially described the case didn’t have the right to do so: Read the rest of this entry »

Author of retracted gene editing paper alleges “bullying” by former PI

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In the fall of 2015, out-of-work stem cell biologist Mavi Camarasa decided she had waited long enough. It had been three years since she and a colleague were, best they could tell, the first to successfully correct the most common cystic fibrosis mutation in stem cells derived from a patient.

But her former lab director, Daniel Bachiller, had blocked her from writing even a short report, she told Retraction Watch:

He said we are not submitting at this time, wait until [the project is] complete. “Wait, wait,” is the only answer I’d had from him ever.

Though she’d left the Spanish regenerative medicine lab in 2013 to take care of an ailing parent and had mostly been scooped by another group in April of that year, Camarasa thought she still might be able to get something out of the project. She hatched a plan to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse — an already accepted manuscript where all he would have to do is attach his name at the last minute.

But this story didn’t turn out exactly how she’d hoped — and illustrates how the pressure to publish can affect researchers at different levels in the lab.

Read the rest of this entry »

After researcher is convicted of sexual assault, journal retracts her co-author’s paper

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A disability journal has retracted a paper supposedly penned by a man with severe disabilities, citing duplication.

Although the reason for the retraction may sound run-of-the-mill, this situation is far from ordinary.

The author, known as DMan Johnson — or simply “D.J.” — has cerebral palsy, and was communicating using a controversial technique called “facilitated communication” with Anna Stubblefield, the former chairwoman of philosophy at Rutgers University. In October 2015, Stubblefield was convicted of sexually assaulting D.J., who has been diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia and severe mental retardationThe following month, she was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In October 2015, Disability Studies Quarterly issued a statement that it was taking a second look at papers by Stubblefield, but did not specify which ones.

Read the rest of this entry »

Busted: Researcher used fake contact info for co-authors

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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?

International Cardiovascular Forum Journal editor Andrew Coats told us more about the actions of first author Joshua Chadwick Jayaraj: Read the rest of this entry »

Two retracted papers were published behind bosses’ backs

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Researchers have retracted two 2016 papers from the same journal which were published without the permission of the supervising scientists.

According to the retraction notices, the two Applied Materials & Interfaces articles were “published without the full knowledge or consent of the principal investigators” who guided the research, but are not named in the notices.

The papers share the same three authors, listed in the same order. Last author Fangqiong Tang and middle author Laifeng Li are principal investigators in different labs at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. First author Nanjing Hao was formerly in Tang’s research group, but is now at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Fabrication of Carbohydrate-Conjugated Fingerprintlike Mesoporous Silica Net for the Targeted Capture of Bacteria,” which was retracted only months after it was published in November 2016: Read the rest of this entry »

Faked data, plagiarism, no co-author okays…yeah, this paper’s been retracted

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A researcher in South Korea has retracted a 2016 paper on which he is listed as senior author because a former student wrote and published the article without his permission.

According to the retraction notice, the former student also fabricated data and plagiarized “a substantial amount of material” from previous papers published by the senior and middle author.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Oleaginous yeast-based production of microbial oil from volatile fatty acids obtained by anaerobic digestion of red algae (Gelidium amansii),” published in the Korean Journal of Chemical Engineering in April 2016 and retracted in January: Read the rest of this entry »