Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

When misconduct occurs, how should journals and institutions work together?

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Elizabeth Wager

When the World Conference on Research Integrity kicks off at the end of this month, one topic that will be on attendees’ minds is how journals and research institutions should collaborate when investigating the integrity of individual publications. That’s because this week, a group of stakeholders from institutions and the publishing world released draft guidelines on bioRxiv for how this relationship might work, dubbed the Cooperation And Liaison Between Universities And Editors (CLUE) guidelines. We spoke with first author Elizabeth Wager, Publications Consultant at Sideview and a co-Editor-in-Chief at Research Integrity & Peer Review (as well as a member of the board of direcftors of our parent non-profit organization).

Retraction Watch: The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has issued guidelines for how research institutions and journals should cooperate when investigating concerns over research integrity. What do the CLUE guidelines add to that discussion?

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Written by Alison McCook

May 22nd, 2017 at 9:30 am

Denmark to institute sweeping changes in handling misconduct

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In six weeks, new policies for handling misconduct in Denmark will go into effect, which alter the definition of misconduct and establish clear policies for who handles such allegations.

Starting July 1, research misconduct will be limited to how it’s typically defined elsewhere — fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (the previous definition included serious breaches of good scientific practices). All such allegations will be investigated by a central body, The Board for the Prevention of Scientific Misconduct — not at the institutions where the allegations are focused, as it has been in the past. Institutions, however, will remain responsible for investigating allegations of so-called Questionable Research Practices (QRPs) — such as only reporting data that support your hypothesis — and must publicize their policies for handling (QRPs).

The Board for the Prevention of Scientific Misconduct will replace the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD).

You can read the press release from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science here. We translated it into English, here.

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Written by Alison McCook

May 19th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Four in 10 biomedical papers out of China are tainted by misconduct, says new survey

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Chinese biomedical researchers estimate that 40% of research in their country has been affected in some way by misconduct, according to a new survey.

The authors are quick to caution against putting too much stock in this figure due to the subjective nature of the survey, published in Science and Engineering Ethics. The estimates also spanned a wide range, with a standard deviation of ±24%. But they say that the responses to this question and others on the survey suggest that scientists in the region feel academic misconduct remains a major problem that authorities have failed to adequately address. (Indeed, a recent analysis from Quartz using Retraction Watch data showed that researchers based in China publish more papers retracted for fake peer reviews than all other countries put together.)

The survey was designed by employees at Medjaden, a Hong Kong-based editing company that assists mainland Chinese biomedical researchers publishing in English-language journals. They invited all of their registered users by email to complete two surveys—roughly 10,000 users in 2010 and 15,000 in 2015. Like most online surveys, this one had a low response rate—around 5%, so caveats about sampling bias apply.

Study co-author Hua He, who is also Medjaden’s CEO, said:

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Written by Mark Zastrow

May 18th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Journal retracts paper eight months after U.S. Feds announce findings of misconduct

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In August, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity announced that a former postdoctoral fellow at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) doctored data in two published papers.

It took one journal a little longer than five months to remove the researcher’s name from the co-author list, and replace one figure.

It took the second journal more than eight months to retract the paper.

Here’s the notice for “A BLOC-1 Mutation Screen Reveals that PLDN Is Mutated in Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome Type 9,” published by the American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG):

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Former UCLA vice-chancellor loses cancer paper for image manipulation

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The former vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Los Angeles, has retracted a 2012 paper after an internal investigation found evidence of image manipulation.

The journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics received a letter about the problems with the paper from the UCLA Research Integrity Officer, and a retraction request from last author James Economou, also the chief of surgical oncology.

According to the notice, the paper duplicated images from a 2011 paper also by first author Ali Jazirehi, based at UCLA. This is Jazirehi’s second retraction.

Here’s more from the notice:

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Ecologist loses appeal for whistleblower protection

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A top federal U.S. court has confirmed a decision by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to deny federal whistleblower protection to an ecologist who was fired after accusing a colleague of fraud.

After initially forcing NSF to more clearly explain its decision, the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has agreed with the conclusions of NSF’s updated investigation, denying former Kansas State University researcher Joseph Craine’s appeal.

Attorney Paul Thaler, who has handled cases involving scientific misconduct (but was not involved with this one), told Retraction Watch that the latest decision appears to be the end of a cautionary tale of how not to report misconduct.

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Written by Andrew P. Han

May 5th, 2017 at 11:00 am

“Remarkable” it was ever accepted, says report: Science to retract study on fish and microplastics

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Science is retracting a paper about how human pollution is harming fish, after months of questions about the validity of the data.

The move, first reported by the news side of Science on Friday, follows a new report from a review board in Sweden that concluded the authors were guilty of “scientific dishonesty,” and the paper should be “recalled.”

The report had some strong words for the journal and the university that conducted a preliminary investigation:

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University suggests journal correct diabetes paper. Publisher retracts it.

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After a publisher learned there may be issues with a 2008 diabetes paper, it asked the author’s university to investigate. The university found evidence of image duplication, and asked the journal to consider correcting the paper.

Instead, the journal has retracted it.

The backstory involves diabetes researcher Kathrin Maedler, who has one previous retraction, as well as multiple corrections. Even the paper in question, published in Diabetes, received an erratum in 2014 regarding a duplicated image, as well as an expression of concern last August after the American Diabetes Association questioned “the reliability of the data” in both the article and erratum.

According to the expression of concern, the ADA asked the University of Bremen to investigate the issues in the paper. In October, the University of Bremen concluded that several duplications present in her work were the result of negligence, not misconduct.

To resolve the issues, the university’s rector recommended that the authors publish a second erratum with corrected figures. But after conducting its own review, the ADA overruled the university, opting instead to retract the paper:

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Former rising star found guilty of misconduct issues 2nd retraction

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A once-lauded researcher in the field of infectious disease — who has since been found guilty of misconduct — has retracted a second paper.

Last year, the University of Dundee in Scotland investigated and ultimately concluded that Robert Ryan — whose work focused on infections that can be deadly in people with lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis — had committed “serious research misconduct,” affecting multiple publications. After appealing the decision, Ryan resigned.

We covered his first retraction earlier this month, which cited multiple instances of image duplication. Now Ryan has retracted his second paper, published in 2011 in Journal of Bacteriology, also due to image problems.

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Harvard teaching hospital to pay $10 million to settle research misconduct allegations

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Piero Anversa

Brigham and Women’s Hospital and its parent healthcare network have agreed to pay $10 million to the U.S. government to resolve allegations it fraudulently obtained federal funding.

The case, which involves three former Harvard stem cell researchers, dates back several years. In 2014, Circulation retracted a paper by Piero Anversa, Annarosa Leri, and Jan Kajstura, among others, amidst a university investigation into misconduct allegations. Anversa and Leri — whose lab was described as filled with “fear” by one former research fellow — later sued the hospital for notifying journals of that investigation. They lost.

In the agreement announced today by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Partners Healthcare and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have agreed to pay the government $10 million to settle allegations that the researchers fraudulently obtained funding from the National Institutes of Health:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 27th, 2017 at 12:12 pm