Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘expression of concern’ Category

Journal flags another paper by diabetes researcher who sued to stop retractions

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It would seem that resorting to legal means to avoid editorial notices doesn’t always work.

We’re coming to that conclusion after seeing yet another notice for Mario Saad, based at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil. In this case, it’s an expression of concern from the Journal of Endocrinology, on a 2005 paper that lists Saad as the second-to-last author. According to the notice, the journal is concerned the paper contains spliced and duplicated images; although the authors offered to repeat the experiments, the journal considered that potential delay “unacceptable.”

Despite Saad’s legal efforts, he is now up to 11 retractions, along with multiple expressions of concern.

Here’s the full text of the notice (which is paywalled, tsk tsk):

Read the rest of this entry »

Stuck in limbo: What happens to papers flagged by journals as potentially problematic?

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Hilda Bastian from the National Library of Medicine

Expressions of concern, as regular Retraction Watch readers will know, are rare but important signals in the scientific record. Neither retractions nor corrections, they alert readers that there may be an issue with a paper, but that the full story is not yet clear. But what ultimately happens to papers flagged by these editorial notices? How often are they eventually retracted or corrected, and how often do expressions of concern linger indefinitely? Hilda Bastian and two colleagues from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which runs PubMed, recently set out to try to answer those questions. We talked to her about the project by email.

Retraction Watch (RW): The National Library of Medicine recently decided to index expressions of concern, which it hadn’t before. Why the change? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

February 28th, 2017 at 9:34 am

Researcher sued to stop retractions; he just earned two more and is now up to 11

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The notices keep coming for diabetes researcher Mario Saad.

Diabetes has just retracted two more of his papers, both of which had been flagged by expressions of concern, citing problems with duplications. What’s more, the journal added another expression of concern to a 2009 paper on which Saad — based at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil — is listed as last author, again over concerns of duplication.

This isn’t Saad’s first run-in with the journal: In 2015, the researcher sued the publisher, the American Diabetes Association, after it issued expressions of concern for four of his papers. Later that year, a judge dismissed Saad’s defamation suit. The journal eventually retracted the papers.

The latest articles flagged by Diabetes appear to be part of an intricate publishing web, as the journal suggests all papers have used features of previous papers, and also include elements that have been republished by subsequent articles.

Here’s the first retraction notice, for “A Central Role for Neuronal AMP-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) and Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) in High-Protein Diet–Induced Weight Loss:”

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Plant journal flags fungus paper amid investigation

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A journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a recently published study after a probe identified “problems with the figure presentation.”

According to the EOC notice in New Phytologist, two figures in the paper contained “some anomalies,” and the corresponding author has acknowledged that there are problems with the images.

Here’s the EOC notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

January 5th, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Catching up: Publisher to pull four papers by retraction record holder flagged years ago

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the-laryngoscopeJournals published by Wiley are retracting four papers by Yoshitaka Fujii, the anesthesiology researcher with the most retracted scientific papers.

Retraction Watch readers will be familiar with Fujii’s case: He currently holds the number one spot on our leaderboard with more than 180 retractions, some of which are pending. (That’s nearly twice the number of retractions by the researcher in the #2 spot, Joachim Boldt.) 

Earlier this year, The Breast Journal and The Laryngoscope — both of which are published by Wiley-Blackwell — issued expressions of concern (EOCs) for a total of four papers by Fujii. All four papers were included in a 2012 analysis of 168 of Fujii’s studies by J. B. Carlisle, a consultant anesthetist in the UK, who concluded that the chance of much of Fujii’s data appearing the way it does naturally is

…the chance of selecting one particular atom from all the human bodies on earth.

Now, both journals are retracting the papers. 

A Wiley spokesperson told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Prominent cancer researcher committed nearly 30 acts of misconduct

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An investigation into the lab of a prominent cancer researcher in British Columbia has revealed nearly 30 acts of misconduct.   

As we detail in our latest feature for Science, the investigation, at the University of British Columbia (UBC), uncovered 29 instances of scientific misconduct, 16 of which were characterized as “serious,” according to university correspondence obtained by Retraction Watch.

The researcher, Sandra Dunn, is prominent in her field, but she left UBC in 2015 under unclear circumstances, shortly after it concluded its investigation. Dunn now heads a private company, Phoenix Molecular Designs, which says it develops therapies for cancer patients and lists local charities among its “partners and supporters.” While at UBC, Dunn obtained at least $1.1 million dollars in Canadian federal funding, some of which was used to support the falsified studies.

To some of the people involved, the most unsettling part of the incident is that it appears Dunn still receives support from Canadian charities. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ana Komnenic

December 14th, 2016 at 10:05 am

Stolen data prompts Science to flag debated study of fish and plastics

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scienceIn August, Science told us it was considering adding an Expression of Concern to a high-profile paper about how human pollution is harming fish — and yesterday, the journal did it.

The move comes after a group of researchers alleged the paper contains missing data, and the authors followed a problematic methodology. In September, however, the co-authors’ institution, Uppsala University in Sweden, concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to launch a misconduct investigation.

The notice from Science stems from the theft of a computer carrying some of the paper’s raw data, making it impossible to reproduce some of its findings: Read the rest of this entry »

Controversial gene-editing study flagged by Nature journal

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nature-biotechnologyNature Biotechnology has issued an editorial expression of concern (EOC) for a widely criticized study describing a potentially invaluable new lab tool.

The EOC mentions the lack of reproducibility of the gene-editing technique, known as NgAgo. Alongside it, the journal has published a correspondence which includes data from three separate research groups that cast doubt on the original findings.

According to a spokesperson for the journal, some of the paper’s authors have objected to the decision to issue an EOC.

Earlier this month, we reported on a letter signed by 20 researchers which also raised concerns about the genome-editing activities of NgAgo — and alleged the lab that produced the initial results turned away investigators when they attempted to validate the tool in mammalian cells.

Here’s the EOC, published yesterday: Read the rest of this entry »

Genetics study flagged for reliability issues by Frontiers journal

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frontiers-in-geneticsA genetics journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a study after an investigation by its chief editors.

According to the notice in Frontiers in Genetics, the authors of the paper — based at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan — are conducting further experiments to resolve the issues raised by the journal’s investigation.

In February, the same paper received a corrigendum due to errors in the assembly of one of the figures.

Here’s the EOC, issued earlier this week: Read the rest of this entry »

Eye researcher loses fourth paper for misconduct following Georgia, VA investigation

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Azza B. El-Remessy

Azza B. El-Remessy

A biologist at the University of Georgia has lost a paper after an investigation revealed she had tampered with three images.

In 2014, Azza El-Remessy notched three retractions for a series of image errors. Now, a fourth retraction notice, and an expression of concern, explain there has been an investigation into her work. The investigation — conducted by two Georgia institutions, along with the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where El-Remessy has additional appointments — has found evidence of misconduct.

The retraction notice for “Oxidative stress inactivates VEGF survival signaling in retinal endothelial cells via PI 3-kinase tyrosine nitration” explains:

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