Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

A Harvard whistleblower was subjected to a forced mental exam. Here’s why.

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Last March, a PhD student at Harvard filed a misconduct allegation against his mentor, a prominent stem cell researcher. Three months later, he was taken from his home by police in the middle of the night for a forced psychiatric evaluation.

How did this happen? Read the rest of this entry »

Breast cancer studies by fired Pfizer employee retracted

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Last year, Pfizer fired one of its scientists following an investigation that ended with requests for retraction of five of her studies. Now, two of the five papers, which were first flagged on PubPeer, have been retracted.

One notice cites the Pfizer investigation, which found that cancer researcher Min-Jean Yin had included duplicated images in all five papers. Yin is the last author on both retracted papers.

Here’s the first notice from Clinical Cancer Research, which says most or all of the questioned images appear to be duplicates, and Pfizer — who sponsored the study and requested the retraction — can’t find the originals:
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Japan group earns 4th retraction following investigation

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Researchers in Japan have issued their fourth retraction, noting that the same figures were used to depict different experimental conditions.

The group lost two papers in 2015 for the same reason, following a misconduct investigation at Oita University in Japan. Last year, the same group notched another retraction, and pegged the responsibility for the problematic figures on first author Satoshi Hagiwara.

Now, the group has published a fourth retraction in the European Journal of Pharmacologythe latest notice doesn’t identify a culprit. All four retracted papers list Hagiwara as first author.

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

Journal retracts all papers by education researcher, bringing his total to 21

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jaasepA journal has followed through on its promise to retract all articles by an education researcher, after an investigation raised questions about the validity of the data in some of his work with children with special needs.

The latest notice — which includes a list of 11 papers — brings the total number of retractions for Noel Kok Hwee Chia to 21.

Last spring, The Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals (JAASEP) pulled nine articles by Chia that were the subject of an investigation at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, part of Nanyang Technological University, where he worked until April. As we reported in June, editors explained in a 3,000-word notice that they planned to pull every article that Chia had published in JAASEP.

The new retraction notice quotes from the reasoning presented in the previous one, from last spring:

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Prominent researcher in Taiwan loses another paper for image duplication

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In November, a vice president at an institution in Taiwan retracted a hotly debated cancer paper from Nature Cell Biology, citing image problems including duplications. Now, the Journal of Biological Chemistry has done the same, again citing image duplications.

There are a few things to note about the latest retraction: One, the last author is again Kuo Min-liang — who holds an appointment at National Taiwan University (NTU), and is also a vice president at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan. Kuo is currently facing allegations that he accepted bribes to add co-authors to his papers; NTU told us it is investigating the latest retraction in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, including Kuo.

The other notable feature of the retraction is the notice itself, which lists a remarkable number of duplicated images. Take a look:

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ORI misconduct findings fell in 2016. Why? We ask the director

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Kathy Partin

Every year, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) issues a series of findings against researchers it has determined committed fraud of some kind. In contrast to many agencies such as the National Science Foundation and around the world, the ORI names the offender, describes the offense, and states the penalty – often a temporary ban on federal funding, for instance.

2016 brought a lot of changes to the agency – it was director Kathy Partin‘s first year, which brought reports of staff unrest (and threats to resign). But there was another notable feature of last year, as we and others have noted – the agency issued only seven findings of misconduct, compared to 14 in 2015 and 11 the year before. (Once a sanction has lifted the finding disappears from the ORI site; here is a count of the agency’s activity from previous years.) We spoke to Partin about this relative lack of action from the agency last year.

Retraction Watch: Why are there so much fewer notices this year than last?  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

January 3rd, 2017 at 11:30 am

Researcher loses 4th paper flagged by misconduct probe

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A researcher in Germany has logged her fourth retraction following an investigation by her former employer that found evidence of scientific misconduct.

The latest retraction for Tina Wenz in the Journal of Applied Physiology mentions the probe at the University of Cologne in Germany, which recommended retracting six of her papers. One had already been retracted by the time the report was released; last month, we reported that two others had been pulled. Now, we’ve come across a fourth.

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

Cancer researcher in Germany loses multiple papers after misconduct finding

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A pathology journal is retracting two papers after an investigation at the last author’s institution in Germany found evidence of scientific misconduct.

The notice for both papers cites an investigation involving Regine Schneider-Stock, who studies cancer biology at the Friedrich Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU). Meanwhile, another 2005 paper that lists Schneider-Stock as the first author was retracted in October, noting evidence of image manipulation.

The most recent retractions, from the American Journal of Pathology, note that FAU declined to provide the journal with details of its investigation beyond a prepared statement:

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JAMA article on zinc for the common cold retracted

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Authors have retracted a JAMA article summarizing the evidence behind the benefits of a supplement, after the systemic review upon which it was based was withdrawn.

The 2014 paper, “Oral Zinc for the Common Cold,” drew from a 2013 Cochrane Review, considered the gold standard for rigorous analyses of clinical treatments. That Cochrane review was withdrawn last year, a decision that the editors upheld this past September. Both were co-authored by Rashmi Ranjan Das, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, in Bhubaneswar, and Meenu Singh, of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, in Chandigarh, India.

JAMA editor in chief Howard Bauchner told Retraction Watch that this week’s retraction followed an investigation by the journal: Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. gov’t physicist sentenced to 18 months in prison for fraud

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A physicist formerly based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for faking data. 

According to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California, after receiving millions in government funding between 2008 and 2012, Sean Darin Kinion submitted faked data and reports to make it seem like he’d performed quantum computing work. Kinion pled guilty in June, 2016 to “a scheme to defraud the government out of money intended to fund research.” He has also been ordered to pay back $3,317,893 to the government.

As readers may know, scientists who commit misconduct are rarely sentenced to prison, although there are some exceptions — most notably, Dong-Pyou Han, who last year was sentenced to nearly five years in prison (and pay back $7 million) after spiking rabbit blood samples to make a HIV vaccine look more effective.

Lynda Seaver, director of public affairs at the LLNL, told us Kinion was dismissed in February 2013, following an investigation that found “some discrepancies in his work.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

December 23rd, 2016 at 1:30 pm