Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘breach of ethical policy’ Category

After hesitating, Science retracts chemistry paper against authors’ wishes

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F1.mediumToday, Science has retracted a 2004 paper that’s been under scrutiny for years, despite the authors’ objections.

This paper has a long backstory: Recently, a report from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Inspector General surfaced that announced the agency had cut off the authors from funding. Last month, editor Marcia McNutt told us that the journal planned to retract the paper as soon as possible. Then, on January 21st, “just as we were going to press with the retraction,” said McNutt, the authors submitted a correction, which Science wanted to take some time to consider.

Now, the paper has a retraction note, against the wishes of authors Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim, currently at the University of Colorado.

Here it is the retraction note:

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Can a journal retract its plan to retract? Science may

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Science is reconsidering its plan to retract a paper about using RNA to make palladium nanoparticles after one of the authors submitted a last-minute correction.

Editor in chief Marcia McNutt told us that the journal will make a decision about whether to retract or correct the paper by February 5th.

We are not certain that what he submitted changes anything, but we wanted to consider this new information before acting.

In the meantime, today the journal issued an Expression of Concern for the paper.

The journal’s initial decision to retract the paper stemmed from an investigation at the National Science Foundation, which concluded that co-authors Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim — currently at the University of Colorado at Boulder — engaged in “a significant departure from standard research practices,” and cut them off from NSF funding unless they took specific actions. When the report on the investigation came to light earlier this month, Science editor in chief Marcia McNutt told us that she planned to issue a retraction:

We are checking to see how soon we can get it published.

McNutt explained what changed:  Read the rest of this entry »

Former UCSD prof’s company admits to grant fraud

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court caseA company headed by a former astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, has agreed to forfeit $180,000 after admitting to defrauding the government.

If SciberQuest, Inc. is unable to pay back the money — the result of fraudulently obtaining government grants and contracts — then its CEO Homayoun Karimabadi will be personally liable, the lawyer for SciberQuest and Karimabadi told Retraction Watch.

We asked if the company was going to be able to repay the $180,000; in response, Robert Rose of firm Sheppard Mullin told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Science retracting paper by chemists cut off from NSF funding

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The National Science Foundation will no longer fund a pair of chemists who “recklessly falsified data,” according to a report from the NSF’s Office of Inspector General, unless they “take specific actions to address issues” in a 2004 Science paper.

That paper is going to be retracted as soon as possible, Science told us. The co-authors that the NSF reprimanded are Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim, now at the University of Colorado at Boulder; they have been under scrutiny since 2008, when an investigation at North Carolina State University, their former employer, found that the Science paper contained falsified data.

The paper, “RNA-Mediated Metal-Metal Bond Formation in the Synthesis of Hexagonal Palladium Nanoparticles,” has been cited 138 times.

Science Editor in Chief  Marcia McNutt told us today that a retraction is in the works:

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Four retractions follow Swedish government findings of negligence, dishonesty

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242915_1uu_logoA Swedish ethical review board has censured two biologists and their employer, Uppsala University, for events related to “extensive image manipulations” in five papers published between 2010 and 2014. The case has led to criticism from an outside expert — who brought the allegations to Uppsala — over the current system in Sweden for handling such investigations.

Four of the papers have been retracted, and the authors have requested a correction in the fifth.

After an eight-month investigation, in September the government-run Expert Group for Scientific Misconduct at the Central Ethical Review Board in Stockholm, Sweden, concluded that Uppsala professor Kenneth Söderhäll — who has published more than 200 papers — and lecturer Irene Söderhäll acted “negligently” and “dishonestly” by Read the rest of this entry »

In more faked peer review news…10 papers pulled by Hindawi

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Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 9.57.36 AMGuess what? We’ve got more cases of fraudulent peer review to report — our second post of the day on the subject, in fact. In the latest news, Hindawi Publishing Corporation has retracted 10 papers for “fraudulent review reports,” after an investigation of more than 30 papers that had been flagged this summer.

The investigation found that author Jason Jung, a computer engineer at Yeungnam University in Korea, “was involved in submitting the fraudulent review reports” for four of the retracted papers, according to the publisher’s CEO. In the case of the other six, the authors didn’t appear to be involved.

Hindawi Publishing Corporation, which publishes over 400 journals, doesn’t ask authors for potential review suggestions — making a common route to fake peer review more difficult.  In July, when Hindawi announced it was investigating the papers, it posted a statement saying that they suspected the editors had created fake reviewer accounts.

The retraction note on Jung’s papers — identical except for the title at the beginning — explains that each paper has

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PLOS ONE issues editor’s note over controversial chronic fatigue syndrome research

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After a request for the original data was denied, PLOS ONE editors have flagged a 2012 sub analysis of a controversial clinical trial on chronic fatigue syndrome with an editor’s note.

The editor’s note — which reads like an Expression of Concern — reiterates the journal’s policy that authors make data and materials available upon request, and notes that staff are following up on “concerns” raised about the study.

There have been numerous requests for data from the “PACE” trial, as the clinical trial is known, which the authors say they have refused in order to protect patient confidentiality. On November 13, James Coyne, a psychologist at the University Medical Center, Groningen, submitted a request for the data from the PLOS ONE paper to King’s College London, where some of the authors were based. According to Coyne’s WordPress blog (he also has a blog hosted by PLOS), the journal asked him to let them know if he “had any difficulties obtaining the data.” He did — KCL denied the request last Friday (the whole letter is worth reading):

The university considers that there is a lack of value or serious purpose to your request. The university also considers that there is improper motive behind the request. The university considers that this request has caused and could further cause harassment and distress to staff.

Last author Peter White at Queen Mary University of London, UK, told us the journal had not asked them to release the data, but he would work with PLOS to address any questions:

We understand PLOS One are following up concerns expressed about the article, according to their internal processes. We will be happy to work with them to address any queries they might have regarding the research.

Here’s the editor’s note for “Adaptive Pacing, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Graded Exercise, and Specialist Medical Care for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis,” in full:

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Authors lied about ethics approval for study on obesity, depression

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Obesity has retracted a study that suggested overweight people may be less depressed than their slimmer counterparts in cultures where fat isn’t stigmatized, after realizing the authors lied about having ethical approval to conduct the research.

The authors claimed their research protocol had been approved by Norwegian and Bangladeshi ethical committees, but, according to the retraction note, part of the study “was conducted without the required approval of the university ethics board.” The journal’s managing editor told us that there is no evidence that there was harm to the study subjects.

Here’s more from the retraction note for “In Bangladesh, overweight individuals have fewer symptoms of depression than nonoverweight individuals:”

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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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