Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘breach of ethical policy’ Category

BMC retracts paper by scientist who banned use of his software by immigrant-friendly countries

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Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.24.42 PMA BioMed Central journal has pulled the paper of a scientist who decided to prohibit countries that are friendly to immigrants from using his software.

Recently, German scientist Gangolf Jobb declared that starting on October 1st scientists working in countries that are, in his opinion, too welcoming to immigrants — including Great Britain, France and Germany — could no longer use his Treefinder software, which creates trees showing potential evolutionary relationships between species. He’d already banned its use by U.S. scientists in February, citing the country’s “imperialism.” Last week, BMC Evolutionary Biology pulled the paper describing the software, noting it now “breaches the journal’s editorial policy on software availability.”

Many scientists have used Jobb’s software: The BMC paper that describes it, “TREEFINDER: a powerful graphical analysis environment for molecular phylogenetics,” has been cited 745 times since it was published in 2004, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Jobb told Retraction Watch that the software is still available to any scientist willing to travel to non-banned countries, and that he does not care about the retraction: Read the rest of this entry »

More retractions, errata discovered for nursing researcher

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Journal of Clinical Nursing

Since our recent coverage about a university investigation that led to multiple retractions for nursing researcher Moon-fai Chan, we’ve been alerted to a few more retractions and errata. His total is now at six retractions and four errata.

Some of our finds were published this year, and some are a few years old. Most are due to duplication; one is due to “use of a dataset without ethical approval.” Chan — now the Associate Master and Chief of Students at the University of Macau — is the first author on all but one of the papers.

We’ll start with the most recent errata. Three of Chan’s articles in the Journal of Clinical Nursing have errata notes published online in July of this year, all noting that the authors used elements of some of Chan’s other articles. Here’s the erratum note for “Exploring risk factors for depression among older men residing in Macau:” 

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Journal reviewing papers by researcher who sexually assaulted disabled author

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Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.10.00 PMA disability journal is “paying significant attention” to papers authored by Anna Stubblefield, a former Rutgers researcher recently convicted of sexually assaulting a disabled man who participated in her research.

Stubblefield was convicted of sexually assaulting “DJ,” a man in his thirties with cerebral palsy who was “declared by the state to have the mental capacity of a toddler,” according to a lengthy piece in the New York Times. Stubblefield and DJ published papers in Disability Studies Quarterly; in one, Stubblefield describes a controversial technique which she claimed helped DJ communicate. But when she eventually used the technique to say DJ was in love with her, his family took her to court, and she was convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

Here is the note from Disability Studies Quarterly, which was published this morningRead the rest of this entry »

Authors retract two neuroscience papers for duplication and plagiarism

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Journal of NeurosurgeryA tipster’s complaints have led to the retraction of two papers in the Journal of Neurosurgery for “plagiarism, duplicate publication, and copyright infringement.”

The corresponding author for both papers, Hung-Chuan Pan of Taichung Veterans General Hospital, had contacted the journal about publishing an erratum for one of the articles when the journal was tipped off by an email pointing out deeper problems in the two retracted papers.

The tipster provided evidence that alleged “a violation of ethics on the part of the authors,” according to the communications manager at the JNS Publishing Group, Jo Ann Eliason.

Both retraction notices, published October 2, detailed a number of “similarities” and “overlaps” in the papers.

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BMC investigating allegedly copied paper

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logoBioMed Central is investigating a recent paper about a potential biomarker for liver cancer, which shows signs it was written using another article as a template.

According to Jeffrey Beall, who exposed the similarities between the two papers on his blog Scholarly Open Access yesterday, the paper in question is “obviously bogus,” and appears to have relied on the “template plagiarism” technique of creating a new article by modifying a previous paper’s text and data.

A spokesperson for BioMed Central, which published the allegedly “junk” paper, as Beall calls it, told us they are looking into the allegations: Read the rest of this entry »

“Insufficient permission” from funder resects liver disease paper

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HepatologyA study on chronic liver inflammation was pulled from the journal Hepatology because of “insufficient permission by the authors’ funding institution to submit and publish the manuscript.” 

The paper, which was published in July, looked into how steatosis, the abnormal retention of fat in the liver, turns into steatohepatitis, also known as fatty liver disease. Researchers found that Treg cells play a central role in controlling the disease.

Unfortunately, the journal’s managing editor didn’t provide any information about the nature of the permission problems, and the notice doesn’t give any details.

Here it isin full:

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Boldt’s retraction count upped to 94, co-author takes legal action to prevent 95th

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Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 12.12.13 AM

We’ve found two recent retractions and an expression of concern for Joachim Boldt, former prominent anesthesiologist and currently Retraction Watch leaderboard’s 2nd place titleholder. He now has 94 retractions.

One of the retracted articles contains falsified data, along with a researcher who didn’t agree to be a co-author, according to an investigation by the Justus Liebig University Giessen, where Boldt used to work. The expression of concern is regarding some questionable data. The other new retraction is actually one of 88 papers that a group of editors agreed to retract back in 2011, after they were “unable to verify” approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the studies.

One of those 88 papers, we’ve discovered, has still has not been retracted. According to an editor at the journal, they haven’t removed it because one of Boldt’s co-authors has threatened them with legal action. Read the rest of this entry »

Animal welfare breach prompts Nature correction

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cover_nature (1)A 2011 letter to Nature from Harvard researchers received its second correction today, this time after discovering the researchers conducted experiments in which mice may have “experienced more pain and suffering than originally allowed for.”

That quote comes from an accompanying editorial in the journal, a rare move for a correction to a 2011 letter. But it’s an unusual correction, for a letter that found that a component of a pepper plant appeared to selectively kill cancer cells, leaving healthy cells relatively unscathed.

Here’s the first paragraph from the detailed correction notice, published today: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors’ pharma ties cause Cochrane to withdraw two diabetes reviews

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Cochrane_LogoThe Cochrane Library has withdrawn two reviews evaluating the effectiveness of diabetes treatments because some of the papers’ authors work with pharmaceutical companies.

Bianca Hemmingsen, first author on both reviews, told us the Cochrane Library asked the authors to remove the researchers with ties to pharma, but after one “refused to withdraw,” both papers were pulled entirely.

However, Hemmingsen insists that their employment had no impact on either paper.

This breaks the typical mold for Cochrane withdrawals, which are usually only pulled to indicate updates and show that older reviews no longer represent the best evidence.

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Researchers suspended in Japan for funding violations

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Sanae Ariga

Sanae Ariga

Hokkaido University has suspended two of its professors after an investigation found “improper receipt of research funding.”

One member of the team was awarded more than 15 million yen (roughly $120,000 USD) in research grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), according to the official statement (translated by One Hour Translation).

The researchers share a last name. Hiroyoshi Ariga, a professor of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science and the head of a university lab, was given 8 million yen in 2006 and 7.5 million in 2007. It appears that Sanae Ariga also received funds for a similar study, based on the translation:

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