Prominent psychologist at Cornell notches second retraction

Robert Sternberg

Robert Sternberg, a psychology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, whose work has been cited more than 140,000 times, has had a second paper retracted because he duplicated his previous work.

Sternberg’s work came under scrutiny earlier this year when colleagues said he was citing himself at a high rate, and not doing enough to encourage diversity in psychology research. He resigned as editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, and around the same time, Brendan O’Connor, at the University of Leicester in the UK posted allegations on Twitter that Sternberg had been recycling his work, after O’Connor analyzed the material with Nick Brown.

Sternberg’s first retraction appeared in June in School Psychology International. Here’s the new one, in Theory Into Practice: Continue reading Prominent psychologist at Cornell notches second retraction

Authors try to duplicate bad data, fail miserably

Cangaroojack via Flickr

We’ve seen plagiarizers plagiarizing plagiarizers, but here’s what seems to be a first: A journal has retracted an article that duplicated text…from a paper that had been retracted for containing dubious data.

The Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science published the recycled paper, titled “Development and in vitro-in vivo characterization of chronomodulated multi-particulate drug delivery system of terbutaline sulphate for treatment of nocturnal asthma by box–Behnken statistical design.” The authors were from several institutions in India.

As the retraction notice explains: Continue reading Authors try to duplicate bad data, fail miserably

Dental researcher in Spain up to 18 retractions

Jose Luis Calvo-Guirado

A researcher in Spain who studies dental implants has had another six papers retracted, for a total of 18.

José Luis Calvo-Guirado‘s latest retraction, which along with the other 17 appeared in Clinical Oral Implants Research, a Wiley title, was for “image discrepancies resulting in unreliable data.” Three appeared in June, and two in July, also for image issues. The researcher also has at least two corrections; one  in Annals of Anatomy — Anatomischer Anzeiger and one in Materials. Continue reading Dental researcher in Spain up to 18 retractions

Caveat scriptor: How a journal editor unraveled the mystery of the overlapping bad data

John Loadsman

Caveat scriptor—writer beware.

That’s the moral of a recent editorial in the Saudi Journal of Anesthesia, prompted by the retraction in that journal of a 2014 paper with bum data.

The editorial was written by John Loadsman, an anesthesiologist in Sydney, Australia, and editor of the journal Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, who played a role in the retraction. Here’s how.

According to Loadsman, he was considering an article for his journal — a meta-analysis of previously published findings. On inspection, he he noticed that some of the studies cited in the meta-analysis were potentially problematic, including Continue reading Caveat scriptor: How a journal editor unraveled the mystery of the overlapping bad data

When it comes to authorship, how prolific is too prolific?

John Ioannidis

One of the suggestions we get regularly here at Retraction Watch is something along the lines of “This researcher publishes too much. You should look into that.” But how much is too much?

The phenomenon was the subject of a 2015 paper. It’s also the subject of a new article in Nature by John Ioannidis, of Stanford, and researchers at SciTech Strategies. The new article is unlikely to answer the question of how much is too much. But it provides some fascinating figures on just how often some authors publish, and even more so how they respond when asked just how they manage to publish so much, in the process raising questions about whether measuring productivity and quality in science should involve a ruler for stacked papers. Continue reading When it comes to authorship, how prolific is too prolific?

Japanese university revokes PhD following a retraction

Tokyo Women’s Medical University has stripped a researcher of her PhD, following the retraction of a paper — for data duplication — that was based on her thesis.

The August 30th announcement notes that a degree was revoked on July 20. The announcement does not name the researcher, but refers to degree number 2881, which corresponds to Rika Nakayama’s PhD. The university describes carelessness and errors, but not misconduct.

Here’s a rough Google translation of the announcement: Continue reading Japanese university revokes PhD following a retraction

Medical ethicist: “I now understand that I should not have been re-using material”

Ezio Di Nucci

A researcher in medical ethics has retracted two papers within the last two years after admitting to reusing material from previous publications.

Ezio Di Nucci, based at the University of Copenhagen, claims he “had misunderstood the relevant practices.”

The first retraction, issued in 2017 by the Journal of Value Inquiry, notes the paper “constituted the third verbatim publication of the same text.” The paper “Strategic Bombing, Causal Beliefs, and Double Effect” has only been cited once since it was published in 2016, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

After that retraction, Di Nucci told us he requested the retraction of a second 2016 article, published by Minds and Machines. The retraction notice for “Habits, Priming and the Explanation of Mindless Action” — which has not yet been indexed — states that “the author misunderstood the practice of re-using one’s own material and apologizes for any inconvenience caused.”

Di Nucci told us:

Continue reading Medical ethicist: “I now understand that I should not have been re-using material”

An author says his work should be “widely heralded and promoted.” So he published it 3 times.

Barislav Momčilović thinks that iodine status is — after iron deficiency — the “main public health” issue in the world today. So when he figured out what he believed was the best way to test levels of the mineral, he was determined to get the message out.

A little too determined, perhaps: He published the same information three times. And one journal caught on.  Last week, Thyroid retracted “Hair Iodine for Human Iodine Status Assessment,” a 2014 paper that they say overlapped with two earlier works.

While publishing duplicate work is considered by some to be just a violation of restrictive publisher copyright agreements, the presence of such duplicates in the literature can bias systematic reviews and other attempts to describe the state of the evidence in a given field. In a retraction notice, Thyroid noted that this was a case of Continue reading An author says his work should be “widely heralded and promoted.” So he published it 3 times.

35,000 papers may need to be retracted for image doctoring, says new paper

Elisabeth Bik

Yes, you read that headline right.

In a new preprint posted to bioRxiv, image sleuths scanned hundreds of papers published over a seven-year period in Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB), published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The researchers — Arturo Casadevall of Johns Hopkins University, Elisabeth Bik of uBiome, Ferric Fang of the University of Washington (also on the board of directors of our parent non-profit organization), Roger Davis of the University of Massachusetts (and former MCB editor), and Amy Kullas, ASM’s publication ethics manager — found 59 potentially problematic papers, of which five were retracted. Extrapolating from these findings and those of another paper that scanned duplication rates, the researchers propose that tens of thousands of papers might need to be purged from the literature. That 35,000 figure is double the amount of retractions we’ve tallied so far in our database, which goes back to the 1970s. We spoke with the authors about their findings — and how to prevent bad images from getting published in the first place.

Retraction Watch: You found 59 potential instances of inappropriate duplication — how did you define this, and validate that the images were problematic?

Continue reading 35,000 papers may need to be retracted for image doctoring, says new paper

A critic with more than two dozen retractions can’t seem to stop plagiarizing

A mysterious lit and film critic who built a significant portion of his career using the words of other scholars instead of writing his own appears to be attempting a second act.  

Last year, Richard-Lawrence Etienne Barnett, who has lost more than two dozen papers for plagiarism, published a book called “The Adversarial Text,” which appears to have a rather cozy relationship with four of his retracted articles. The apparent purloinment was first reported by Volker Schröder, a scholar of French and Italian at Princeton University who has been following the Barnett case for the better part of two decades.

In 2001, Schroeder found that

Continue reading A critic with more than two dozen retractions can’t seem to stop plagiarizing