Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘faked data’ Category

Two more retractions for former US prof who altered dozens of images

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Two journals have retracted papers by a biologist who was recently found guilty of misconduct by his former employer, the University of Colorado Denver, bringing the total to five.

The investigation report by UC Denver, which we obtained earlier this year via a public records request, had recommended one of the two newest retractions, which appears in the journal Hepatology. The other retraction, in the Journal of Immunology, was not flagged by the report — which found, among other conclusions, that Almut Grenz had altered multiple values in research that had already been submitted for peer review.

Here’s the notice for the Journal of Immunology paper:

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UCSF, VA investigations find “clear evidence” of misconduct in cancer papers

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Earlier this year, the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center teamed up to write a letter.

Addressed to the editorial office at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the letter, parts of which have been published in a retraction notice, contained information concerning two papers on genetic risk factors for a type of kidney cancer and a type of uterine cancer, respectively, published in different AACR journals over a decade ago by researchers affiliated with the institutions.

The papers had been at the center of research misconduct investigations at both UCSF and the VA and the investigations came to the conclusion that both papers contained:

fabrication or falsification of data that constitutes Research Misconduct.

Though one of the papers has been retracted, it’s unclear what will happen to the other. [Note: See update at the bottom of the post.] Read the rest of this entry »

Recent finding of misconduct by federal U.S. agency sparks debate

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Nasser Chegini

In 2011, the University of Florida assembled a misconduct report about one of its ob-gyn researchers, identifying falsified data in a 2010 paper. But when an investigator at the U.S. Office of Research Integrity reviewed the report, something didn’t feel right.

“I reviewed the data, and I thought [UF] didn’t do their due diligence,” said Kristen Grace, then an ORI investigator, now heading up the compliance department of the Office of Clinical Research at the University of Pennsylvania. “Because the extent of the the falsification was so great.”

So the ORI asked the UF to re-open its investigation, expanding it to include previous years of work by Nasser Chegini, now retired. The institution also hired a new director of research compliance, who oversaw the second investigation. That report, completed in October 2013, was significantly more extensive — it documented intentional falsifications or fabrications in nine papers published between 2003-2008. (Through a public records request, we obtained a copy of this second report, which you can read in full here.) But last month, the ORI issued a finding of misconduct against Chegini that focused on only one paper; the agency said it chose to take a “targeted approach,” since eight of the nine papers had already been retracted.  

The move has prompted a debate — while some argue it’s a pragmatic use of ORI’s limited resources, others (including Grace) are concerned:

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Written by Alison McCook

August 17th, 2017 at 11:13 am

The three-year delay: Journal finally retracts paper based on made-up data

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Three years after an investigation revealed a 2013 paper was based on fraudulent data, a journal has finally retracted it.

The paper, published in Journal of Hazardous Materials, was one of seven articles by a team at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) in Chandigarh, India that contain fabricated data, according to an investigation by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in New Delhi. (IMTECH is part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.) Although it took one journal years to take action, another still has not retracted one of the seven flagged papers. Read the rest of this entry »

Why did it take a journal two years to retract a paper after a misconduct finding?

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A 2014 paper containing data manipulated by a former graduate student has finally been retracted, two years after the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) published its findings.

In August 2015, the ORI published a report that Peter Littlefield, who was working on his PhD at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), had committed “research misconduct by falsifying and/or fabricating data” in two papers. Littlefield agreed to correct or retract the papers–one published in Chemistry & Biology and the other in Science Signaling.  

When we contacted Chemistry & Biology back in August 2015, a spokesperson for Cell Press told us the journal was figuring out “the best way to correct the scientific record.”

Apparently that took two years. In the meantime, the journal did not issue an expression of concern or otherwise notify readers of the issues. Read the rest of this entry »

PLOS ONE retracts paper after researcher admits to fabricating data

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On June 19, 2017, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity published its first misconduct finding of the year. The ORI reported that Brandi M. Baughman — a former research training awardee at the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS) — had “falsified and/or fabricated data” in 11 figures in a 2016 paper published in PLOS ONE.

Two days later, on June 21, PLOS ONE retracted the paper. (Note: The retraction process proceeded relatively quickly, but took longer than two days; a spokesperson for the journal told us that the authors alerted the editors of their concerns about the publication in May.)   Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

July 26th, 2017 at 8:00 am

What a report into scientific misconduct reveals: The case of Frank Sauer

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Oct. 3, 2011, was the beginning of the end for Frank Sauer’s tenure at the University of California, Riverside. On that day, an anonymous emailer contacted Sauer’s institution with accusations that the biochemist had cooked his research in at least eight papers over a 16-year period.

Sauer was found to have doctored images in studies using government money — nearly $3 million of it. He went on to lose his position at UC Riverside, several papers to retraction, and, in May, a subsequent legal battle over the severity of the federal sanctions. Along the way, he concocted a fantastic tale of sabotage against German scientists (like himself), replete with poison-pen letters and fabricated credentials. 

Retraction Watch has obtained a copy of UC Riverside’s report on the Sauer case through a public records request. The report, which is undated but which describes committee meetings and interviews from October 2011 to October 2012, lists 33 allegations of scientific misconduct against Sauer, 20 of which the committee determined to involve deception. Of the remaining 13, the committee either could not find proof of guilt or determined that the data were legitimate.

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NIH neuroscientist up to 19 retractions

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Stanley Rapoport.
Source: NIH

The string of apparent bad luck continues for Stanley Rapoport.

Rapoport, a neuroscientist based at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, has lost three more papers in three journals due to the misconduct of his co-authors. By our count, these retractions bring his tally to 19 — and tie him for 21st place on our leaderboard.

The journals—Schizophrenia Research, Journal of Affective Disorders, and Biological Psychiatry— retracted the papers because the National Institutes of Health had found that one of Rapoport’s co-authors, Jagadeesh Rao, had “engaged in research misconduct by falsifying data.” Rao was corresponding author on all three papers.

According to a spokesperson for Elsevier, which publishes the journals, the Schizophrenia Research paper was retracted in July, the JAD paper in late May and the Biological Psychiatry paper in late April. The spokesperson told us that the publisher first received an email from the NIH about the misconduct findings on September 20, 2016, and that: Read the rest of this entry »

Volunteer researcher faked weeks’ worth of data

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A volunteer researcher at Florida Atlantic University fabricated the results of mouse experiments over a 14-day period in June, 2016, according to a new finding issued by the U.S Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

According to the ORI, Alec Mirchandani made up the results of behavioral experiments to make it seem as if he had done the work, and falsified animal transfer logs, which affected research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.

More specifically, the ORI determined that Mirchandani had “knowingly and intentionally:”

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Written by Alison McCook

July 14th, 2017 at 11:07 am

“An evolving and inconsistent tale:” Biochemist barred from federal grants for five years

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In 2013, Frank Sauer blamed “visual distortion” for problems with the images in his papers and grant applications. That explanation gave way to the production in 2016 of a mysterious and ominous letter from an unnamed researcher claiming that they’d sabotaged Sauer’s work in a plot of revenge. Soon after, Sauer was claiming that a mysterious cabal was plotting to undermine the output of German researchers.

Whatever Sauer was selling, Leslie Rogall, an administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Departmental Appeals Board, wasn’t buying.

Rogall has concluded that the Office of Research Integrity acted properly in 2016 when it found Sauer — a former faculty member in biochemistry at the University of California, Riverside — guilty of misconduct. His offense: doctoring images in three published papers and seven grant applications to the National Institutes of Health.

In a May 22 decision first posted today, she writes (italics hers):

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Written by amarcus41

June 29th, 2017 at 1:44 pm