Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘expression of concern’ Category

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

Who wrote this chem paper? Author claims her name was removed without consent

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Spectrochimica ActaA researcher is claiming that her former PhD students impersonated her to remove her name as a co-author on a 2015 study.   

According to an editor’s note, published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, the journal received confirmation from all three authors that the aforementioned researcher should be removed from the author list during proofing stage. However, the researcher whose name was omitted — Nahid Nishat of the Jamia Millia Islamia in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, India — later contacted the journal claiming that she didn’t okay this move.  

Nishat told Retraction Watch that she believes the two listed authors on the paper wrote to the journal on her behalf to remove her name:  Read the rest of this entry »

Journals flag two papers by psychologist Jens Förster

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forster-j-a1Journals have flagged two papers by prominent social psychologist Jens Förster — whose work has been subject to much scrutiny — over concerns regarding the validity of the data. 

Förster already has three retractions, following an investigation by his former employer, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in the Netherlands. In 2014, we reported on the first retraction for Förster for one of three studies with odd patterns that were flagged by the UvA investigation, a 2012 paper in Social Psychological and Personality Science; subsequently, the Netherlands Board on Research Integrity concluded that data had been manipulatedThree statistical experts from the UvA then carried out a more in-depth analysis of 24 publications by Förster, and found eight to have “strong evidence for low scientific veracity.”

Last year, Förster agreed to retract two more papers as part of a deal with the German Society for Psychology (DGPs); those retractions appeared earlier this year. All three papers that Förster has lost until now are from the “strong evidence for low scientific veracity” category. Recently, two more of Förster’s papers from the same category were flagged with notices, but not retracted.

One “statement of institutional concern,” issued by Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, reads:
Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer paper flagged due to “credible” concerns over its reliability, journal says

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rsc-advancesA journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a cancer study after the publisher received what it called a “credible” tip that its results may not be reliable.

According to the EOC, published in RSC Advances, the paper is now under investigation.

Here’s the EOC for “Filled and peptide-modified single-walled carbon nanotubes: synthesis, characterization, and in vitro test for cancer cell targeting:” Read the rest of this entry »

Macchiarini paper in Nature journal earns expression of concern for data questions

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nature-communications-228x300Nature Communications has issued an expression of concern for a 2014 paper by beleaguered surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, citing concerns over whether the paper accurately reports the experiments that were carried out.

According to the notice, Macchiarini, a former rising star in the field of transplant medicine, agrees with the expression of concern. Three of his 22 co-authors have objected.

Experimental orthotopic transplantation of a tissue-engineered oesophagus in rats” describes transplanting an esophagus into rats that was seeded with their own stem cells, and notes that all animals survived the study period (14 days), and gained more weight than rats given a placebo operation. It’s a topic Macchiarini has made famous, as the first surgeon to perform a similar procedure with a human tracheal transplant. But he’s faced charges of misconduct in the last few years, resulting in his dismissal from Karolinska Institutet (KI).

Here’s the text of the notice, scheduled to go live at 10 a.m. UK time today: Read the rest of this entry »

Ecology journal flags carnivore paper under investigation

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journal-of-applied-ecologyAn ecology journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a recently published study, citing an institutional investigation about the data and conclusions.

According to the notice — issued by the Journal of Applied Ecology — the author’s institution in South Africa has received a report from an independent examiner. The editors are reviewing the paper — about reducing the impact of lethal carnivores such as black-backed jackals — “in light of this information.”

An official from the journal told us the investigation has to do with “relevant background information” that was not included in the study, published online in December.

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