Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘authorship issues’ Category

U.S. gov’t scientist says he was banned from climate research at work — so he used a pseudonym

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A scientist working for the U.S. government says he was told not to work on climate research during working hours, nor reveal his government affiliation when presenting results. So he published his research under a pseudonym instead.

The researcher explains all this in a recent erratum for one of the papers he published under a different moniker — confirming why he and his co-author used the same pseudonyms to publish another now-withdrawn paper that presented some controversial climate findings. That withdrawal — which we covered in in September (as did the Washington Post) — raised eyebrows after Twitter users began pointing out that the authors — Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez — have similar names to another pair of researchers: Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller

Nikolov’s use of a pseudonym even prompted a misconduct investigation by his employer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Here’s the erratum, issued last week for a 2014 paper in SpringerPlus:

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Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

December 13th, 2016 at 11:30 am

A new way to fake authorship: Submit under a prominent name, then say it was a mistake

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4orcoverRecently, the editors of a journal about management science received a submission from a prominent Dutch economist. But something didn’t feel right about it.

For one, the author submitted the paper using a Yahoo email address. So the editors contacted the author via his institutional email; immediately, the researcher denied having submitted the paper — and said it had happened before. And then things got really interesting.

The editors — Yves Crama, Michel Grabisch, and Silvano Martello — decided to run a “sting” operation, pretending to consider the paper, and even submitted their own fake reviews, posing as referees. They accepted the paper via the electronic submissions system, then lo and behold:

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Written by Alison McCook

November 28th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Two journals, same name: Did one editor retract the other’s paper?

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amphibian-and-reptile-conservationTwo journals sharing the same title — allegedly due to an “academic divorce” between the founders — are giving two different accounts to why a paper may (or may not) have been retracted.

Confused yet? We are.

Here’s what we can piece together. The journal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation once had two editors, Craig Hassapakis and Robert Browne; both names appear on the same cover of a 2011-2012 issue of the journal, as librarian Jeffrey Beall noted in a blog post published last year. But since then, there seems to have been an “academic split” between the two (as defined by Beall), and each now publishes a different version of the publication named Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

Recently, we came across a 2013 paper co-authored by Browne marked “Retracted” on the version of the site founded by Craig HassapakisBrowne’s version of the journal can be found here

Meanwhile, the study’s first author, Omar Fadhil Al-Sheikhly from the University of Baghdad in Iraq, claims the paper was never retracted in the first place: Read the rest of this entry »

Neuro journal pulls paper due to doubts over authors’ identities

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international-journal-of-neuroscienceA neuroscience journal has retracted a 2015 study after noticing the author list changed from submission to publication.

According to the retraction notice in the International Journal of Neuroscience, “conflicting messages” were conveyed between the study’s alleged two lead authors, causing the journal to doubt the provenance of the paper.

All the study’s authors are listed as affiliated with The People’s Hospital of Laiwu City in Shandong, China.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued earlier this year: Read the rest of this entry »

Springer, BMC retracting nearly 60 papers for fake reviews and other issues

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springerIn a massive cleanup, Springer and BioMed Central announced today they are retracting 58 papers for several reasons, including manipulation of the peer-review process and inappropriately allocating authorship.

The papers appeared in seven journals, and more are under investigation.

In a release issued today, the publishers note: Read the rest of this entry »

Who wrote this chem paper? Author claims her name was removed without consent

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Spectrochimica ActaA researcher is claiming that her former PhD students impersonated her to remove her name as a co-author on a 2015 study.   

According to an editor’s note, published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, the journal received confirmation from all three authors that the aforementioned researcher should be removed from the author list during proofing stage. However, the researcher whose name was omitted — Nahid Nishat of the Jamia Millia Islamia in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, India — later contacted the journal claiming that she didn’t okay this move.  

Nishat told Retraction Watch that she believes the two listed authors on the paper wrote to the journal on her behalf to remove her name:  Read the rest of this entry »

7 signs a scientific paper’s authorship was bought

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sol

Maria Sol Bernardez Sarria

Peggy Mason

Peggy Mason

Did you know there is a black market for scientific papers? Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of authors purchasing a spot on the author list of papers-for-sale – and the better the journal, the higher the price. This worrisome trend has been on the minds of Peggy Mason at the University of Chicago and Maria Sol Bernardez Sarria of Yale University, formerly associated with the Ethics Committee of the Society for Neuroscience, which publishes the Journal of Neuroscience (Mason as Chair from 2013 to 2015, and Bernardez Sarria as assistant). In this capacity, they regularly scanned several websites and journals for ethics-related information, and developed an approach that might give away sold authorship. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 24th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Journal flags paper at center of authorship dispute

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carbohydrate-polymersA journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a nanofilm paper after a researcher protested being left off the author list. 

According to the notice in Carbohydrate Polymers, the University of Calcutta in West Bengal, India, where the research was carried out, has “failed to provide evidence of a thorough, fair, and proper investigation of this claim,” despite being presented with evidence from both sides.

The study’s last and corresponding author told us that his former student, who had previously co-authored some abstracts, got in touch with journal, alleging to be an author of the present paper. 

Here’s the EOC for “Cationic guar gum orchestrated environmental synthesis for silver nano-bio-composite films:” Read the rest of this entry »

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 »