Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘Legal Threats’ Category

Remaining fraud charges withdrawn for Parkinson’s researcher

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

Two remaining charges against a Parkinson’s researcher recently convicted of fraud have been dropped by an Australian court.

In October, Caroline Barwood, formerly at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, was found guilty of five out of seven charges. Subsequently, Barwood was handed two suspended sentences: one for two years, and another for 15 months, both to be served concurrently. She will not serve jail time.

Initially, Barwood pleaded not guilty to the three charges of fraud and four instances of attempted fraud — unlike her former UQ colleague Bruce Murdoch, who pleaded guilty to 17 fraud-related charges in March, and also earned himself a two-year suspended sentence

Barwood was found guilty of five charges against her, but the jury could not reach a majority verdict on one count of fraud and another of attempted fraud. She was asked to re-attend court for a “mention.” 

On December 6, those charges were withdrawn. Barwood told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

December 7th, 2016 at 11:30 am

PubPeer dealt blow in lawsuit against anonymous commenters

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Fazlul Sarkar

Fazlul Sarkar

PubPeer has suffered a setback in an ongoing lawsuit filed by a scientist who alleges the site’s anonymous commenters cost him a job.

This week, judges in the Court of Appeals in Michigan denied the request of the American Civil Liberties Union — which is representing PubPeer — to include an investigative report as part of evidence in the case. The report, by Wayne State University, found the plaintiff — Fazlul Sarkar — had committed widespread misconduct, and should retract scores of papers.

Alexander Abdo of the ACLU told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

December 2nd, 2016 at 8:30 am

A grad student was caught in the crossfire of fraud — and fought back

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uqIn March, 2013, a graduate student joined the lab of a prominent researcher in Australia, investigating new therapies for Parkinson’s. A few months later, everything fell apart.

In September 2013, the University of Queensland (UQ) announced it was retracting one of the lab’s papers, returning the money used to fund the research and launching a fraud investigation.  Since then, the scandal has grown to the point where the lead researcher and his co-author have been convicted of fraud in an Australian court.  

Now, the graduate student is fighting back. After losing her research project and being escorted off campus for allegedly erratic behavior, she has appealed to UQ to reimburse her for tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, and is now awaiting a verdict from a government ombudsman. The graduate student goes by “Dominique,” which is not her real name; Retraction Watch is keeping her identity confidential to protect her privacy. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by trevorlstokes

November 22nd, 2016 at 9:30 am

Details of investigative report into Sarkar released by ACLU

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Fazlul Sarkar

Fazlul Sarkar

We knew that Wayne State University had investigated allegations of misconduct against Fazlul Sarkar, the scientist who is suing PubPeer commenters over criticisms of his work. We knew The Scientist had obtained a copy of the report, which concluded he had engaged in widespread misconduct, and he should retract more than 40 papers.

And now, thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing PubPeer in court and has filed a motion to include the report as evidence in the case, we have a copy.

It’s a long read, but here are some highlights:

Read the rest of this entry »

Former Duke researcher at center of lawsuit lodges 16th retraction

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ajrcmb-2016-55-issue-5-coverTwo former researchers at Duke University at the center of a lawsuit by a whistleblower to recoup millions in federal funding have lost yet another paper.

This is hardly the first retraction for Erin Potts-Kant, who used to work in the pulmonary lab of now-retired William Michael Foster. Earlier this year, a lawsuit filed by a former colleague of Potts-Kant and Foster was unsealed alleging that the pair — along with the university — included fraudulent data in materials involving more than 60 grants, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

That is the legal side of their story. The science publishing side is that Potts-Kant and Foster have been steadily adding to their list of retractions — this paper represents her 16th, and his 13th.

Here’s the notice for “Nitric oxide mediates relative airway hyporesponsiveness to lipopolysaccharide in surfactant protein A-deficient mice:” Read the rest of this entry »

Scientist embroiled with PubPeer engaged in “widespread research misconduct,” investigation finds

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Fazlul Sarkar

Fazlul Sarkar

An investigation into a scientist suing PubPeer commenters over criticisms of his work has concluded that the researcher engaged in widespread misconduct and should retract 42 papers.

The investigation report by Wayne State University, obtained by The Scientist, reveals that Fazlul Sarkar created a research environment that encouraged productivity but cut corners when it came to integrity: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 19th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Ohio State, CrossFit gym make six-figure settlement over corrected paper’s injury claims

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Mitch Potterf

Mitch Potterf

The Ohio State University (OSU) has settled a lawsuit with a CrossFit affiliate over allegations that a study had defamed the gym.

As first reported by Columbus Underground, the university has agreed to pay Mitchell Potterf, owner of Fit Club in Columbus, Ohio, $145,000 to settle claims that a 2013 paper by OSU researchers included false data about injuries suffered by 11 athletes who took part in a fitness challenge. According to a statement filed by Potterf and his attorney, Ken Donchatz, in the Ohio Court of Claims, based on depositions, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 19th, 2016 at 11:33 am

Parkinson’s researcher in Australia pleads not guilty to fraud

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood pleaded not guilty to fraud-related charges in a Brisbane courtroom Monday.

According to 9News, Barwood is accused of three counts of fraud, and four instances of attempted fraud, which include trying to obtain approximately $700,000 (AUD) from various organizations between 2011 and 2013 for a study that never occurred. The case follows an investigation at her former institution, the University of Queensland (UQ), which resulted in three of her papers being retracted

Crown Prosecutor Caroline Marco alleged that Barwood was also intimately involved with Bruce Murdoch, her former colleague at the UQ, who has pleaded guilty to 17-fraud related charges, and received a two-year suspended sentence earlier this year.

Marco also claimed that Barwood admitted that Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 17th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

CrossFit can sue over error in paper it claims cost the brand millions

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court-caseA California court ruled that fitness empire CrossFit can proceed to trial with its lawsuit against a competitor, alleging it published falsified data that hurt the company’s reputation, according to recently released court documents.

The case pits the popular for-profit CrossFit brand against the non-profit National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), which published the 2013 study in question.

CrossFit claims it lost upwards of $8 million afer researchers concluded that 16 percent of CrossFit participants in a small study left the exercise program because of injury. However, in a 2015 erratum, the authors – led by Steven T. Devor, director of the Exercise Science Laboratory at The Ohio State University — noted that follow up showed only 2 participants out of the 11 drop-outs mentioned their health as a reason.

The study appeared in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, published by CrossFit competitor NSCA, which also promotes fitness programs.  CrossFit claims the results in the paper cost it revenues from people paying for seminars at CrossFit, Inc. affiliate gyms.

“CrossFit is now eager to go to trial. More eager than ever,” a CrossFit spokesperson told Retraction Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by trevorlstokes

October 11th, 2016 at 9:35 am

University makes six-figure lawsuit settlement with creationist

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csunCalifornia State University, Northridge has settled a lawsuit with a former employee, who sued the university after claiming it fired him over his creationist beliefs.

In 2013, Mark Armitage was fired from his position as manager of the biology department’s electron and confocal microscopy suite at California State University Northridge (CSUN), after publishing a paper in in Acta Histochemica that he believed showed the horns dated to the time of a biblical flood. The following year, Armitage sued CSUN, arguing he was fired because he is a creationist.

A spokesperson for California State University Northridge (CSUN) told us Armitage was terminated for other reasons, and the university chose to settle to avoid a lengthy legal battle: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 7th, 2016 at 9:30 am