What Caught Our Attention: Robert J. Frumento first caught our notice in 2013, as a coauthor on a paper retracted with a nonspecific reference to author misconduct. Three years later, Frumento was clearly identified as having fabricated data and a master’s degree, and added three retractions to his name. Now he’s got a fifth retraction, this one citing missing data and a lack of proof that data blinding was performed correctly. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Columbia researcher up to five retractions
From time to time, academics will devise a “sting” operation, designed to expose journals’ weaknesses. We’ve seen scientists submit a duplicated paper, a deeply flawed weight loss paper designed to generate splashy headlines (it worked), and an entirely fake paper – where even the author calls it a “pile of dung.” So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Katarzyna Pisanski at the University of Sussex and her colleagues found that so-called “predatory” journals – which are allegedly willing to publish subpar papers as long as the authors pay fees – often accepted a fake editor to join their team. In a new Nature Comment, Pisanski and her team (Piotr Sorokowski, Emek Kulczycki and Agnieszka Sorokowska) describe creating a profile of a fake scientist named Anna O. Szust (Oszust means “a fraud” in Polish). Despite the fact that Szust never published a single scholarly article and had no experience as a reviewer or editor, approximately one-third of predatory journals accepted Szust’s application as an editor. We spoke with Pisanski about the project.
Retraction Watch: What made you conceive of this project, and what did you hope to accomplish?
Recently, the editors of a journal about management science received a submission from a prominent Dutch economist. But something didn’t feel right about it.
For one, the author submitted the paper using a Yahoo email address. So the editors contacted the author via his institutional email; immediately, the researcher denied having submitted the paper — and said it had happened before. And then things got really interesting.
The editors — Yves Crama, Michel Grabisch, and Silvano Martello — decided to run a “sting” operation, pretending to consider the paper, and even submitted their own fake reviews, posing as referees. They accepted the paper via the electronic submissions system, then lo and behold:
According to the retraction notices issued by Chemosphere, Hong-Wei Luo incorrectly claimed to be affiliated with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee in one of his three affiliations. His other institutions listed on the papers include universities in Singapore and China.
However, an official from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, told us the work in the now-retracted papers was not carried out at the NTU either.
Here’s the first of the retraction notices, issued on August 8: Continue reading Where was chem research conducted? Not here, say two of three listed author affiliations
He’s also earned his fourth retraction. The new notice, along with one we’ve uncovered from 2014, provide some information on the extent of the deception of Robert Frumento, who left Columbia a decade ago, around the time that the now-retracted papers were published.
Here’s the new retraction notice:
Before the jig was up, someone posing as a researcher named Xavier Delorme had edited three articles on optimization problems for The Scientific World Journal. The scammer used a fake email address, the publisher told Retraction Watch — a common strategy for duping journals in peer review scams. When the real Delorme, who works at École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Etienne in France, began receiving correspondence about articles he had no involvement in, fake Delorme’s cover was blown.
Upon closer look, the publisher found evidence that peer reviews for some articles may have been submitted using phony identities, as well. The publisher has been unable to identify anyone responsible for the scam.
Here’s the retraction notice, which now appears on five articles from the special issue:
Specifically, it appears as if Rodrigo J.G. Lopes made up the affiliations of multiple co-authors from the California Institute of Technology, causing the journal to “doubt the existence of the authors.”
Lopes first came to our attention in 2013, when he lost a paper in the Chemical Engineering Journal for including data he couldn’t have produced, as the lab lacked the necessary equipment. That had followed a previous retraction, when Lopes added co-authors without their permission. We’ve since found other retractions for Lopes, bringing his total to eight, by our count. Continue reading Author appeared to use phony Caltech co-authors, up to 8 retractions
Gemina Doolub admitted that she fabricated research data and submitted papers without the knowledge of her co-authors, including faking an email address for a co-author, a news story in the BMJ reports. The research in question was part of two retractions that Doolub received in 2013, one of which we covered at the time.
Doolub’s research examined ways to treat and avoid microvascular obstruction — that is, blocked arteries. Doolub did the work while at Oxford.
“Intracoronary Adenosine versus Intravenous Adenosine during Primary PCI for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction: Which One Offers Better Outcomes in terms of Microvascular Obstruction?” was published in International Scholarly Research Notices Cardiology and has not yet been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.
As the BMJ reports, in that paper,
The online news site is retracting and correcting several articles by former staff writer Juan Thompson, who was employed there from November 2014 until last month.
A 2014 letter in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has been retracted because editors aren’t sure who wrote it.
“Can Grayscale IVUS Detect Necrotic Core-Rich Plaque?”, a letter on the potential of intravascular ultrasound, was submitted under the name of a researcher at the University of Copenhagen, Erling Falk. The paper was sent with a Gmail account (a technique used by some academics to conduct fake peer reviews), and editors communicated with the author through the acceptance process.
Shortly after the letter was published, Erling Falk of Aarhus University contacted the journal and asked who wrote the letter. They discovered that nobody by that name worked at the University of Copenhagen and emails to the author’s Gmail address went unanswered. So the journal issued a retraction.
Here’s the complete notice: