Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘image manipulation’ Category

Caught Our Notice: Unusual — journal flags paper for concerns, then updates them

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Filled and peptide-modified single-walled carbon nanotubes: synthesis, characterization, and in vitro test for cancer cell targeting

What Caught Our Attention: After an expression of concern (EOC) is published in a journal, the usual procedure is to either publish a subsequent correction or retraction — or, unfortunately, leave it sit ad infinitum. But apparently, there’s another option. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

January 3rd, 2018 at 9:01 am

Caught Our Notice: After ORI flags a paper by former grad student, university flags another

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Via Wikimedia

Title: The L3MBTL3 Methyl-Lysine Reader Domain Functions As a Dimer

What Caught Our Attention: Six months ago, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) determined that former graduate student Brandi Baughman had doctored 11 figures in a PLOS ONE article, which was retracted shortly after.  The PLOS ONE paper listed two affiliations for Baughman — the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC); now UNC has triggered a second retraction of a paper co-authored by Baughman, also due to research misconduct. Although the ORI notice makes no mention of this additional paper, the agency recently took a “targeted approach” by not issuing comprehensive findings of misconduct for one researcher, in order to conserve resources. Of course, sometimes universities make findings that don’t meet the ORI’s bar, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

January 1st, 2018 at 8:00 am

Paper retracted when co-author forgets he had published a figure before

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A 2016 case study in Neurology exploring a “mystery case” has been retracted because four figures had already been published in a 2012 article.

The two papers have three authors in common, but according to the retraction notice, none could explain the duplicate publication. The notice states that Pierre Labauge, the corresponding author on the 2012 paper and the last author on the Neurology paper, said he “did not remember the first paper” when revising the recent one. Read the rest of this entry »

One image was duplicated in eight papers. Yes, eight.

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A cancer journal has retracted a 2014 paper after discovering one image had been duplicated in seven other papers. That’s right—the same image appeared in a total of eight papers.

For some of the papers, the issues went beyond the single image. According to the retraction notice, several papers contained other duplicated images, as well as “overlapping text.”  The notice, published in October 2017 in Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention (APJCP), is essentially a letter PLOS ONE wrote to several journals, informing them of the issues in the eight papers, all published between 2014 and 2016. The letter mentions that one of the papers—a 2016 analysis in Korean Journal of Physiology (KJPP)—had already been retracted earlier this year. One author of the retracted KJPP paper confessed to using a company to prepare and submit the manuscript. Read the rest of this entry »

University finds falsified data in PNAS gene therapy paper, authors retract

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A university investigation has found falsified data in a 2011 paper about the side effects of a virus commonly used in gene therapy.

The authors are retracting the paper, but one co-author told Retraction Watch they stand by their main conclusions. According to Roland Herzog, a professor at the University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine and a co-author of the paper, the falsified data were related to a minor part of the paper.

The paper, “Activation of the NF-κB pathway by adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors and its implications in immune response and gene therapy,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in March 2011. All authors were affiliated with UF at the time; the handling editor, Kenneth Berns, is an emeritus professor at UF. The paper has been cited 50 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientist to chemistry journal: “Plse retract this ms ASAP”

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The presence of allegedly obvious manipulations in a 2017 chemistry paper has prompted a reader outcry.

Over the last couple of days, a user on PubPeer and others on Twitter have accused the paper of containing clear duplications; the paper was already corrected in August, in which one scientist alleges the authors replaced “an obviously fabricated” figure with a “slightly better photo-shopped one.”

In response, the editor of ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, David Kaplan, told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

November 30th, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Where’s the data? Authors can’t support figures in 2017 kidney paper

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Researchers have retracted a 2017 paper exploring a novel approach to treat kidney injury, because three images were “constructed inappropriately.”

That’s about as much as we know: The retraction notice provides few details about the nature of the issue, only that the authors—most of whom work at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey—could not provide the original data for the recently published figures.

The paper, published in American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology, was retracted October 1, just over four months after appearing online in mid-May. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

November 29th, 2017 at 8:00 am

PLOS ONE retracts two papers one year after author says he okayed the move

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PLOS ONE has retracted two 2014 papers from a group of researchers, after an institutional investigation confirmed image duplication. Although the authors initially asked to correct the figures in the two papers, they ultimately agreed with the decision to retract.

Mrinal K. Maitian associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur and corresponding author on the two now-retracted PLOS ONE papersalso corrected a 2016 paper published in PLOS ONE over figure-related errors. Maiti is the only author in common to all papers.

A spokesperson for the journal told us:
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Written by Victoria Stern

November 17th, 2017 at 11:05 am

More duplications for researcher accused of misconduct in lawsuit

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Despite losing a lawsuit against his former mentor, a researcher hasn’t stopped his efforts to discredit his mentor’s work. These efforts have led to new editorial notices — including, most recently, a correction and expression of concern for one paper by a former colleague, who wasn’t even the subject of the lawsuit.

In the 2014 suit, former Brown University postdoc Andrew Mallon said research misconduct by John Marshall — his lab director and former business partner– tainted a 2013 paper published in PLoS Biology. Though the case failed to trigger the retraction Mallon sought, it put his concerns into the public record; the text of the lawsuit includes an accusation of misconduct against Cong CaoMarshall’s former mentee and the first author of that 2013 paper.

Mallon has since contacted journals to raise concerns about papers by Cao, and two journals have taken action. The most recent move: On Aug. 10, the Biochemical Journal did something we don’t see very often — it issued both a correction and an expression of concern (EoC) for one of Cao’s papers: “EGFR-mediated expression of aquaporin-3 is involved in human skin fibroblast migration,” originally published Nov. 14, 2006. Read the rest of this entry »

To catch a fraudster: Publisher’s image screening cuts down errata, “repeat offenders”

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Christina Bennett

When a publisher rolls out image screening on its journals over an eight-year-period, some surprising things happen. For one, researchers whose papers were flagged are less likely to make the same mistake again. That’s according to new findings presented by the American Physiological Society (APS), which began increasingly checking images in accepted papers for splicing and other tweaks before they are published. (Note: they are not the only outlet to institute such checks.) At the recent International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication, the APS presented findings from seven journals, spanning from 2009 when very few articles were checked, all the way to 2016, when all seven journals screened images before publishing them. We spoke with APS associate publisher for ethics and policy Christina Bennett about the data — which also showed that, over time, fewer papers were flagged for images concerns, and those that were flagged were addressed prior to publication (which reduced the number of corrigenda published to correct image errors). What’s more, the percentage of papers with questionable images has fallen by 0.7% each year since 2013.

Retraction Watch: What prompted APS journals to start doing image checks?

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Written by Alison McCook

November 1st, 2017 at 8:00 am