Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘for legal reasons’ Category

“Credible threats of personal violence” against editor prompt withdrawal of colonialism paper

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A journal has withdrawn an essay that called for a return to colonialism after the editor received alleged threats tied to the article.

Soon after Third World Quarterly published the controversial essay, readers began to object. When the journal defended its decision, 15 editorial board members resigned in response. More than 10,000 people signed a petition to have it retracted. On September 26, the publisher posted a statement — including a detailed timeline of the paper’s peer review process — and said the the author had requested to withdraw the article. However, in the statement, the publisher said that “peer-reviewed research articles cannot simply be withdrawn but must have grounds for retraction.”

The journal has since changed its position, and withdrawn the paper entirely from its site, posting this notice in its place:

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“Right to be forgotten” takes down BMJ’s 15-year-old film review

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A subject in a documentary film about the psychology of religious ideation has pushed the BMJ to take down its review of the film, based on a complaint citing a European internet privacy rule.

On July 3, BMJ posted a retraction notice for an article that barely said anything:

This article has been retracted by the journal following a complaint.

The 2002 article is a review of a documentary film entitled “Those Who Are Jesus,” directed by Steven Eastwood, a British filmmaker. The review has been removed from the BMJ site, as well as PubMed.   

BMJ told Retraction Watch that it took down the film review in response to a European citizen exercising his or her “right to be forgotten,” an internet privacy idea that, according to the European Union, ensures:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

August 8th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Inclusion of “personal correspondence” in evolution paper prompts retraction, new journal policy

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Hearsay is not admissible as evidence in court — and it doesn’t seem to go very far in science, either.

A pair of researchers in the field of human evolution have lost a paper which contained data from “personal correspondence” that the providing party apparently did not enjoy seeing in print.

The article, “Early hominin biogeography in Island Southeast Asia,” was published in the September/October 2015 issue of Evolutionary Anthropology. The authors, Roy Larick and Russell Ciochon, are paleoanthropologists and co-founders of the Iowa-Bandung Java Project — a 20-year old collaborative effort to study the origins of early humans in Indonesia. Read the rest of this entry »

Following outcry, American Psychological Association “refocuses” takedown notice program

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After a deluge of protests from researchers who received notices from the American Psychological Association (APA) to remove papers from their websites, the publisher announced it will shift its focus to commercial sites.

Earlier this week, researchers took to Twitter to lament the takedown notices they had received from the APA; one posted the letter in place of his paper. The letters were part of a pilot program by the APA to remove “unauthorized online postings of APA journal articles.”

That program has now taken a bit of a turn. In a release yesterday, the APA says that:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 16th, 2017 at 10:39 am

Researchers protest publisher’s orders to remove papers from their websites

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Researchers are protesting orders from the American Psychological Association to remove links to papers from their websites.

Multiple researchers took to Twitter recently to lament the takedown notices they’ve received from the APA; one posted the letter in place of the link to his paper. According to the APA, the letters are part of a pilot program to “monitor and seek removal of unauthorized online postings of APA journal articles.”

The notices cite misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which enables internet users to protect their own content. But it can be heavily abused by people who file false copyright infringement claims to remove content they don’t like from the internet. (We have even been the target of such attempts.)

According to the letter posted by Nathaniel Daw at Princeton University, the APA says:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 14th, 2017 at 2:17 pm

BMJ journal yanks paper on cancer screening in India for fear of legal action

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BMJ Global Health has pulled a paper that criticized U.S. research of the effects of cervical cancer screening in India over defamation concerns.

That’s not what the notice on the paper says, however — at the moment, it just reads:

This article has been withdrawn.

However, forwarded email correspondence between the first author and an associate publisher reveals the journal published the paper and planned a press release, then realized it should be reviewed by a legal adviser. When first author Eric J. Suba at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center inquired about the status of the paper and any potential press release, he was told the journal could no longer publish it, out of concern they would be taken to court.

Suba told us that, when he learned the paper would be pulled:

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After lawsuit threat, journal forces author to heavily revise education paper

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Under threat of a lawsuit, an education journal changed its mind about publishing a paper that it had already accepted after peer review.

Last summer, Education Policy Analysis Archives, published by the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, informed San Francisco State University professor Stanley Pogrow that the journal would be publishing his paper criticizing a widely used reform intervention for schools in poor districts called Success For All.

According to Success For All‘s website, the program is currently used in more than 1,000 schools in 48 states and received just over $10.5 million in grant funding in 2015. In 2010, the program was one of four recipients of the U.S. Department of Education’s $50 million Investing in Innovation Scale‑up grant.

Yet when Success For All’s co-developer, Robert Slavin at Johns Hopkins University, read a pre-publication draft of the paper, he threatened the journal with legal action if they published it. According to Slavin, the manuscript contained “libelous” and “defamatory” statements.

Subsequently, ASU declined to publish the accepted paper, and instead told Pogrow they would only publish a revised piece on the methodology used to evaluate which school interventions are effective — and thus should receive public funds. The revised paper does not directly mention Success For All or Slavin in the text (although it cites past articles by Pogrow criticizing the program). The revision, which Pogrow agreed to, “gutted the article,” he told us.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Megan Scudellari

March 15th, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Study of child with rare cancer retracted due to lack of parental consent

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Researchers in Ireland have retracted a case study about a rare type of cancer in a child because – contrary to what they claimed in the paper – they had not obtained the necessary permission from the parents.

In the June 2016 article, the authors stated they had received “written informed consent” from the parents to publish the case. But according to the retraction notice — issued just a few months later in October — that was not the case.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Paediatric Ewing-like sarcoma arising from the cranium – a unique diagnostic challenge,” which for legal reasons, the publisher has withdrawn from public view:

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Physics journal removes study for breach of confidentiality

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applied-physics-lettersA physics journal has retracted a 2016 study after learning that the author published it without the knowledge or permission of the funder, which had a confidentiality agreement in place for the work.

According to the retraction notice in Applied Physics Letters, the paper also lifted content from other researchers without due credit. Given the “legal issue” associated with the breach of confidentiality, the journal has decided to remove the paper entirely. 

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

4th retraction for neuroscientist sentenced for fraud

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Bruce Murdoch

Bruce Murdoch

A Parkinson’s researcher has earned his fourth retraction after receiving a two-year suspended sentence for fraud.

The sentence for Bruce Murdoch, issued on March 31, 2016, came following an investigation by his former employer, the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia, into 92 papers. Murdoch entered guilty pleas for 17 fraud-related charges, which resulted in the retraction of three papers co-authored by Murdoch and Caroline Barwood, another former UQ Parkinson’s researcher who faced fraud charges (and was granted bail in 2014).

Now, a fourth retraction has appeared for Murdoch in Brain Injury, this time for duplication and failing to obtain consent from his co-authors.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on July 11: Read the rest of this entry »