Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misused data’ Category

Social networking site privacy breach complaint prompts retraction

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patients-like-meA journal has removed a paper after realizing it contained a verbatim quote from a patient that could reveal the patient’s identity.

The journal learned of the slip-up after receiving a complaint from a social networking site for patients called PatientsLikeMe, which enables people with similar conditions to connect with each other. The retracted paper — ironically about automatically sanitizing private information on social networking sites — included a brief quote from an HIV-positive user of the site, containing specific dates and infections the patient had experienced.

The corresponding author of the study in Expert Systems and Applications confirmed to us that the letter from PatientsLikeMe about two lines of text in the study triggered its removal.

The journal has republished an updated version of the paper without the problematic text. 

Here’s an excerpt from the complaint, sent by Paul Wicks, Principal Scientist and Vice President of Innovation at PatientsLikeMe, to the researchers and the journal in December 2015: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors didn’t generate key brain images, probe finds

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Frontiers in Human NeuroscienceA neuroscience journal has issued a retraction after discovering some of the paper’s integral images didn’t originate from the authors’ labs.

The retraction notice  — for a study about a condition once known as “water on the brain” — cites an investigation by the journal’s publisher, Frontiers, which determined that the figures were not “duly attributed.” The authors say they agree with the retraction.  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Revisiting hydrocephalus as a model to study brain resilience,” published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: Read the rest of this entry »

Journal flags paper over allegations it used competitors’ text, plasmids

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MGGA journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a paper on a common crop virus after the authors were accused of using competitors’ unpublished text and plasmids.

Investigations by the journal and the involved institutions — the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, where the paper’s authors are based, and North Carolina State University (presumably, where the accusing group is from) — were inconclusive, the notice states.

So the editor flagged “Sequences enhancing cassava mosaic disease symptoms occur in the cassava genome and are associated with South African cassava mosaic virus infection” with an EOC:

Read the rest of this entry »

JAMA takes all calls for retraction seriously — even from PETA

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JAMAA leading medical journal is taking a second look at a recent high-profile paper about elephants’ lower risk of cancer, after receiving a call for retraction from a somewhat unusual corner: the animal rights group PETA.

This isn’t the first time the activist group has called for a retraction — last year, it nudged a journal to pull a paper that had been flagged for fraud by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity. Their latest target: A 2015 paper in JAMA, which PETA claims contains inaccurate information.

What’s more, the organization argues, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus — which partly funded the research — is using the findings as “justification for the continued use of abusive training techniques with elephants.” Yesterday, PETA sent a letter to the journal asking it to either retract the paper or issue an expression of concern, claiming: Read the rest of this entry »

Neuro journal pulls article for data theft, prompts misconduct probe

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Neuroscientists have retracted a research letter less than two months after it appeared, admitting they appeared to pass off others’ data as their own.

Two of the researchers are listed as affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the incident has led to a misconduct investigation at the institution, a UCSF spokesperson told us.

The article, “DNAJC6 variants in Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,” appeared in April. It was quickly followed by this notice, dated in May: Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer researchers: We took data from another lab

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Authors have admitted to using material from another lab for their paper on neuroblastoma.

A spokesperson for Springer told us that the theft came to light when:

The scientists, from whom the data originated, contacted the journal.

The editor in chief of the journal investigated the case, the spokesperson told us, and then issued this retraction notice:

Read the rest of this entry »

We’re using a common statistical test all wrong. Statisticians want to fix that.

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ASA-newlogoAfter reading too many papers that either are not reproducible or contain statistical errors (or both), the American Statistical Association (ASA) has been roused to action. Today the group released six principles for the use and interpretation of p values. P-values are used to search for differences between groups or treatments, to evaluate relationships between variables of interest, and for many other purposes.  But the ASA says they are widely misused. Here are the six principles from the ASA statement:  Read the rest of this entry »

Authors used wrong dataset in study on shock therapy, exercise in depression

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J psych resA psychiatric journal has pulled a 2014 paper that found electroconvulsive therapy and exercise helped people with depression, after the authors determined they had mistakenly analyzed the wrong data.

According to the retraction notice from the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the researchers had “erroneously analyzed” data from a previous study they had published the year before.

Here’s more from the note for “Electroconvulsive therapy and aerobic exercise training increased BDNF and ameliorated depressive symptoms in patients suffering from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder:” Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer study pulled when published without supervisor’s consent

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turkish jThe Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences has retracted a paper after concerns surfaced from a researcher who claims to have supervised the research but was not listed as a co-author.

The first author completed the research — which explored the use of epigenetic alterations as potential early signs of cancer — as part of her master’s degree, under the supervision of Muy-Teck Teh at the Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry. When Teh contacted the journal to say he had not consented to the publication, Ayesha Umair claimed she had paid for the research herself.

Here’s the retraction note for “Quantitative study of epigenetic signature in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” which tells us more about the dispute: Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroscience paper retracted after colleagues object to data publication

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frontiersA paper published this October in the journal Frontiers In Neuroscience was retracted the following month because the authors’ collaborators did not give them permission to publish some of the data.

The paper detailed how and why the authors use the software program Nengo to test large simulations of nervous system networks. As part of the research, the authors tested five systems, one of which they were working on with another group. Due to a “miscommunication,” the authors thought they had received permission to publish the data; they plan to resubmit a paper describing the other four systems.

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