Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘expression of concern’ Category

After losing two video game-violence papers, co-author’s weapons paper is flagged

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Can seeing a weapon increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors?

A meta-analysis on the so-called “weapons effect” has been flagged with an expression of concern by a SAGE journal, after the researchers discovered errors affecting at least one of the main conclusions.

The paper found that the presence of weapons increased people’s aggressiveness, but not feelings of anger. However, the corresponding author, Arlin James Benjamin, who works at University of Arkansas–Fort Smith, told us:

we would urge considerably more caution in interpreting the impact of weapons on behavioral outcomes based on those initial re-analyses.

Last author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University (OSU), was the corresponding author on two now-retracted papers linking video games and violence. Read the rest of this entry »

More duplications for researcher accused of misconduct in lawsuit

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Despite losing a lawsuit against his former mentor, a researcher hasn’t stopped his efforts to discredit his mentor’s work. These efforts have led to new editorial notices — including, most recently, a correction and expression of concern for one paper by a former colleague, who wasn’t even the subject of the lawsuit.

In the 2014 suit, former Brown University postdoc Andrew Mallon said research misconduct by John Marshall — his lab director and former business partner– tainted a 2013 paper published in PLoS Biology. Though the case failed to trigger the retraction Mallon sought, it put his concerns into the public record; the text of the lawsuit includes an accusation of misconduct against Cong CaoMarshall’s former mentee and the first author of that 2013 paper.

Mallon has since contacted journals to raise concerns about papers by Cao, and two journals have taken action. The most recent move: On Aug. 10, the Biochemical Journal did something we don’t see very often — it issued both a correction and an expression of concern (EoC) for one of Cao’s papers: “EGFR-mediated expression of aquaporin-3 is involved in human skin fibroblast migration,” originally published Nov. 14, 2006. Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: Concerns about image in 2008 paper prompt editorial notice

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Characterization of a novel epigenetically-silenced, growth-suppressive gene, ADAMTS9, and its association with lymph node metastases in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

What caught our attention: One year ago, a PubPeer user suggested an image from a 2008 paper looked similar to one from another paper. After the authors stated their belief in the soundness of the image, without providing the originals, the journal issued only an Expression of Concern for the paper. Some journals have issued retractions for lack of original data, some have issued corrections, and even fewer have published editorial notices. Expressions of concern usually indicate that some type of final resolution will be announced, but in reality, a significant proportion remain unresolved for years. Based on the wording of this notice, it may be around for a while. Read the rest of this entry »

Ethical concerns arise for head of controversial stem cell clinic

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Geeta Shroff. Photo credit: Nutech Mediworld

Journals are raising ethical concerns about the research of a doctor who offers controversial embryonic stem cell treatments.

Two journals have issued expressions of concern for three papers by Geeta Shroff, who was the subject of a 2012 CNN investigative documentary. All cite ethical concerns; one mentions the potential link between the procedure the authors describe and a risk of forming teratomas, a type of tumor. Shroff has objected to all three notices.

Shroff, a doctor offering controversial embryonic stem cell treatments at her New Delhi clinic, Nutech Mediworld, has said that for years she couldn’t find opportunities to present her research to the medical community. Read the rest of this entry »

Journal issues note of concern, tips off university’s research integrity office

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A journal has published an expression of concern (EoC) for a paper on cancer genetics in mice, over a concern about data in some gel panels.

The EoC for “Suppression of intestinal tumorigenesis in Apc mutant mice upon Musashi-1 deletion,” appeared Sept. 21 in Journal of Cell Science (JCS).

With the notice, the journal says:

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Nature adds alert to heavily debated paper about gene editing

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Nature has added an “editor’s note” to a high-profile August paper alerting readers to the fact that the article has been subject to criticism.

Journals often flag papers that are being debated — what’s unusual here is that the journal doesn’t label the notice as an official “Expression of Concern,” which are indexed by PubMed. Yet the Nature notice reads just like an expression of concern.

Here’s the text of the new notice, which was added October 2 (and spotted by Paul Knoepfler):

Read the rest of this entry »

Journal adds concern notice to paper by psychologist Jens Förster

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A social psychology journal has added an expression of concern to a paper by prominent social psychologist Jens Förster, whose work has been subject to much scrutiny.

This is the latest in a long-running saga involving Förster. The 2012 paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology had been flagged by a 2015 report describing an investigation into Förster’s work, which had concluded the paper likely contained unreliable data. Several other papers that received similar designations in that report have either been retracted or received expressions of concern (EoC).

The (paywalled) notice provides a lengthy explanation for why the journal chose to add an EoC, rather than retract the paper, as the University of Amsterdam had recommended. Here is an excerpt:

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“No wrongdoing had occurred,” says Karolinska, following investigation of cancer research

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A journal has removed an expression of concern for a 2011 paper after Karolinska Institutet (KI) “concluded no wrongdoing had occurred.” 

In June, Journal of Cell Science (JCS) issued the expression of concern, after a reader contacted the editors with questions about the data in one of the figures. JCS investigated but could not resolve the issue, and in March 2017 turned the case over to KI where the authors are based.

The 2011 paper had already received a correction in 2016, citing inadvertent figure duplication.

In late August, KI concluded its investigation into the 2011 paper by last author Boris Zhivotovsky; JCS has now updated the expression of concern with a publisher’s note: Read the rest of this entry »

Nature tags glacier paper with note of concern due to data mix-up

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Nature has tagged a recent paper on the importance of glacial melt to water supply in Asia with an expression of concern (EoC), after receiving a tip that the author had misused some data.

The EoC for “Asia’s glaciers are a regionally important buffer against drought,” published by Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey, came out today. The May 11, 2017 article — which has been cited three times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science — considers the contribution of glaciers to water supply in Central Asia and the potential for glacier loss to exacerbate water stress in the region. The paper received limited news coverage when it came out from science sites, including Phys.org.

Pritchard appears to have improperly used a particular data set — an error that was reported to the journal by two outside experts within weeks after the paper was published.  Read the rest of this entry »

Controversial Australian journalist’s paper flagged by journal

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The Journal of Biological Chemistry has added an expression of concern to a 2003 paper that arose from the PhD thesis of a once-prominent — and controversial — science journalist in Australia.

The first author of the paper is Maryanne Demasi, a journalist whose reporting created unintentional headlines in recent years. In 2013, she produced a controversial series about cholesterol and fat (and even cast doubt on cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins); in 2016, she was fired from the science program Catalyst, after it aired an episode alleging wi-fi could cause brain tumors.

Now, it appears the research community is taking a second look at some of the work underlying her PhD in rheumatology from Royal Adelaide Hospital. Here’s the notice from the journal:

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