Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘breach of ethical policy’ Category

Social networking site privacy breach complaint prompts retraction

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patients-like-meA journal has removed a paper after realizing it contained a verbatim quote from a patient that could reveal the patient’s identity.

The journal learned of the slip-up after receiving a complaint from a social networking site for patients called PatientsLikeMe, which enables people with similar conditions to connect with each other. The retracted paper — ironically about automatically sanitizing private information on social networking sites — included a brief quote from an HIV-positive user of the site, containing specific dates and infections the patient had experienced.

The corresponding author of the study in Expert Systems and Applications confirmed to us that the letter from PatientsLikeMe about two lines of text in the study triggered its removal.

The journal has republished an updated version of the paper without the problematic text. 

Here’s an excerpt from the complaint, sent by Paul Wicks, Principal Scientist and Vice President of Innovation at PatientsLikeMe, to the researchers and the journal in December 2015: Read the rest of this entry »

Despite apology, bagpipes study not slated for retraction

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Thorax

It’s not often that a paper elicits an apology — but that’s just what happened when family members first learned a bagpipe musician died from inhaling mold and fungi from a case study reported in a journal. The hospital has since apologized; the journal, however, told us it is not planning to issue a retraction.

The University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust in Wythenshawe, UK, has apologized and launched an internal investigation into the case report after the family’s distress was extensively covered by the UK’s mainstream media, such as The BBC, The Independent, The Daily Mail, and The Telegraph.

There seem to be conflicting accounts over whether any consent was obtained to publish the report. The Thorax paper says the patient gave consent, and according to Gisli Jenkins, co-editor-in-chief of the journal and a professor of experimental medicine at Nottingham University in the UK, consent was sought from the family. But the patient’s daughter told us that neither the next of kin nor the patient were approached for consent. 

The release of the report on August 22 was “completely unethical,” said Erin Tabinor, daughter of musician Bruce Campbell and a makeup artist in Liverpool, UK. Tabinor told us that the family wasn’t aware that playing bagpipes was the cause of Campbell’s death: Read the rest of this entry »

UK doctor banned from practice after fabricating data in grant applications

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Queen Mary University of LondonA prominent cancer researcher in England has been banned from practicing medicine and has lost his funding from a UK charity after being found to have fabricated data in grant applications.

The moves against the researcher, Thorsten Hagemann, come after investigations by the General Medical Council, akin to a U.S. state medical board, and Hagemann’s former institution, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), turned up evidence of misconduct. In June, we reported on the retraction of a meeting abstract in The Journal of Pathology and the corrigendum of a Nature paper by Hagemann following the inquiry at QMUL.

A spokesperson from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service told the Evening Standard: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 8th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Journal retracts nutrition paper, citing authors’ “unethical behavior”

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A journal has retracted a paper for a somewhat unusual reason — and swapped the article with an entirely new paper by different authors.

The journal, Materia Socio-Medica, said it’s retracting a paper about diet in dialysis patients because of some of the authors “un-ethical behaviors” in previous issues of the journal. In its place, the journal has published a paper about tuberculosis, also a curious move.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Effect of Diet Education on Blood Pressure Changes and Interdialytic Weight in Hemodialysis Patients Admitted in Hajar Hospital in Shahrekord:”  Read the rest of this entry »

HIV paper pulled for lack of consent, errors

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AIDS JournalA researcher failed to obtain proper consent from HIV patients included in his study about risky sexual behavior, according to the journal that retracted his paper.

The study, based on interviews with 154 men and women living with HIV, concluded that experiencing negative life events correlated with risky sexual behavior. But although the author claimed to have complied with the journal’s standard of consent, the journal disagreed, and retracted the paper in 2014 (we think this case is interesting enough to share with you now). What’s more, according to the journal, the paper contains errors that invalidate its conclusions.

Here’s the notice:

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Engineering journal pulls two papers for “compromised” peer review

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The Open Mechanical Engineering Journal

An engineering journal has retracted two papers for faked or rigged peer review, but authors of one of the papers are objecting to the retraction. 

The first author of that paper told us he and his co-authors “absolutely disagree” with the retraction, and are prepared to use “legal means” to safeguard their “rights and interests.” He added: 

…my paper was published by normal ways, I don’t know why the peer review process was compromised and what the journal found in its investigation.

Here’s the retraction notice, which is similar for both papers: Read the rest of this entry »

Journal flags paper over allegations it used competitors’ text, plasmids

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MGGA journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a paper on a common crop virus after the authors were accused of using competitors’ unpublished text and plasmids.

Investigations by the journal and the involved institutions — the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, where the paper’s authors are based, and North Carolina State University (presumably, where the accusing group is from) — were inconclusive, the notice states.

So the editor flagged “Sequences enhancing cassava mosaic disease symptoms occur in the cassava genome and are associated with South African cassava mosaic virus infection” with an EOC:

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Fake email for corresponding author forces neuro journal to retract paper

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Cellular and Molecular Neurobiologychair of a neurobiology department in China has requested the retraction of a paper on which he was unwittingly listed as the lead and corresponding author.

How could a corresponding author — you know, the person with whom the journal corresponds about the paper — be added without their consent? It seems that a fraudulent email account was involved in this case. The address listed for Cheng He, a researcher at the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai, didn’t belong to him, said a spokesperson for Springer.

According to the retraction notice for “Identification of the Interaction Between the Human Homologue of the Arabidopsis COP9 Signalosome Subunit 7a and Olig1:”

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Should researchers guilty of misconduct go to “rehab”?

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Nature_latest-cover

A report on the first few years of “researcher rehab” suggests that three days of intensive training have a lasting impact on participants.

Specifically, among participants — all of whom had been found guilty of at least one type of misconduct — the authors report that:

A year later, follow-up surveys indicate that the vast majority have changed how they work.

The authors claim this shows the program is worth the time and investment — a $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, and a cost of $3,000 per participant for the three-day course. Do you agree? Tell us what you think in our poll at the end of the story.

Infractions ranged from consent issues for human subjects, plagiarism, and outright fraud. Still, researchers who need this training aren’t much different from everyone else, the authors note in “Lessons of researcher rehab,” published today by Nature: Read the rest of this entry »

Author “committed serious mistakes,” finds Taipei investigation

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Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular BiologyAn investigation at Taipei Medical University found that an author made “serious mistakes” when preparing a manuscript.

The journal prompted the university to investigate the paper, which looks at the role of a protein in repairing arteries after an injury.

The retraction notice explains:

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