Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘plagiarism’ Category

4th retraction for neuroscientist sentenced for fraud

without comments

Bruce Murdoch

Bruce Murdoch

A Parkinson’s researcher has earned his fourth retraction after receiving a two-year suspended sentence for fraud.

The sentence for Bruce Murdoch, issued on March 31, 2016, came following an investigation by his former employer, the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia, into 92 papers. Murdoch entered guilty pleas for 17 fraud-related charges, which resulted in the retraction of three papers co-authored by Murdoch and Caroline Barwood, another former UQ Parkinson’s researcher who faced fraud charges (and was granted bail in 2014).

Now, a fourth retraction has appeared for Murdoch in Brain Injury, this time for duplication and failing to obtain consent from his co-authors.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on July 11: Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher hired lawyers to try to get journal to run correction he wanted

without comments

BMCLogoWhen a researcher suspected a paper on fireflies had borrowed some of its methodology, he called lawyers to help him convince the publisher to craft a correction notice that was to his satisfaction.

Although the authors submitted a correction to BMC Plant Biology acknowledging Robert Birch as the original author of some material, as we reported previously, the publisher instead issued an expression of concern (EOC), noting that there was an “authorship dispute.”

When our post ran earlier this year, we didn’t know why a request for correction had turned into an EOC, which — as its name states — is typically more cause for concern than a correction. We’re still not sure exactly why, but we have learned that Birch disputed the content of the authors’ suggested correction, and hired lawyers to try to change the wording. From his perspective, there are several problems with the paper, he told us:

Read the rest of this entry »

Plagiarism concerns raised over popular blockchain paper on catching misconduct

with 15 comments

f1000researchA graduate student at McGill University is raising concerns that a popular F1000Research paper may have plagiarized his 2014 blog post that — ironically — proposed a method to prevent scientific misconduct. The student calls the paper “a mirror image” of his work.

The February 2016 F1000Research paper, “How blockchain-timestamped protocols could improve the trustworthiness of medical science,” was highlighted by us earlier this year, as well as by The Economist and FierceBiotech. In the paper, physician Greg Irving of the University of Cambridge and John Holden of Garswood Surgery in the UK describe a proof-of-concept of how to use a blockchain—a technology best-known for powering the digital currency bitcoin—to audit scientific studies and prevent misconduct in clinical trials.

After the student brought his concerns to the journal, Irving and Holden published a second version of their paper online, this time prolifically citing the blog entry and altering language that had been identical between the two pieces. F1000Research says “the scientific content is still valid” and has no plans to retract the article. Two public peer reviewers of the work also stand by its validity. Read the rest of this entry »

Broken windows, threats, and detention: Is whistleblowing worth it?

with 2 comments

Wyn Ellis

Wyn Ellis

Several years ago, a UK academic living in Thailand for decades decided to expose the fact that a Thai official had plagiarized his PhD thesis. And he’s paid the price. Last year, Wyn Ellis was held in a Thai airport for five days, as officials claimed he was a “danger to Thai society.” As some new developments have emerged in the case, Ellis ponders the after-effects of his actions.

This month marks the 4th anniversary of the very public revocation by Chulalongkorn University of the PhD degree of Supachai Lorlowhakarn, the former director of Thailand’s National Innovation Agency (NIA), for ethical violations, and plagiarism of his thesis.

For me, as the original whistleblower who first alerted authorities to the problems with Lorlowhakarn’s PhD thesis, the knowledge that justice was eventually served is far from cause for celebration. Indeed, the Byzantine twists and turns, the lawsuits, surveillance, physical attacks, and even death threats over the past nine years have — without a doubt — taken their toll on my family and I, and should serve as a salutary lesson to anyone harboring naive notions of civic duty. This was certainly my own motivation back then, as an advocate and passionate supporter of Thai science and innovation.

Here are some of the threats I encountered: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

July 12th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

One patient, two case reports: Journal retracts the latter

with one comment

Case Reports in Obstetrics and GynecologyA journal has retracted a case report after discovering it had already been reported.

The paper — about an “extremely rare” instance where a fetus was diagnosed with both a form of dwarfism and a chromosomal condition known as Klinefelter syndrome — was retracted from Case Reports in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CROG).

The first author of the paper told us the report was the result of a “big misunderstanding” between her and a former colleague, and she alerted the journal as soon as she noticed the case had already been reported in BMC Pediatrics.

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

Have 1 in 5 UK academics fabricated data?

with 6 comments

logoA small survey of UK academics suggests misconduct such as faking data and plagiarism is occurring surprisingly often.

The survey — of 215 UK academics — estimated that 1 in 7 had plagiarized from someone else’s work, and nearly 1 in 5 had fabricated data. Here’s how Joanna Williams and David Roberts at the University of Kent summarize the results in their full report, published by the Society for Research into Higher Education: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

July 1st, 2016 at 11:30 am

Plagiarism, plagiarism, plagiarism: Five recent cases

without comments

RW logoThere’s so much publishing news to report, we don’t always get to cover every retraction when it appears. To get the word out more quickly, sometimes we publish a group of papers pulled for similar reasons, such as duplications. Below, we present five recent cases of plagiarism, such as using text or figures that the authors didn’t originally write.

We’ve added the date of retraction where we could find it:
Read the rest of this entry »

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

without comments

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 »

In Korean textbook scheme, some plagiarists found not guilty

with 3 comments

court caseSEOUL — When does plagiarizing an entire textbook not violate copyright law?

In a South Korean court, apparently.

On Wednesday, a district judge found ten professors who plagiarized textbooks guilty of copyright infringement—but ruled that four professors who added their names to subsequent printings were not guilty.

This case, which began as an alleged plagiarism ring of obscure science and engineering textbooks, could now rewrite the nation’s existing copyright law and spark debate on the high social standing enjoyed by professors. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mark Zastrow

June 15th, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Third party company botched student’s doctoral work, says biologist

with 6 comments

Cellular Physiology and BiochemistryA PhD student who was supposed to complete part of an experiment passed the job on to a third party company, which in turn provided figures that were plagiarized and fabricated. That’s according to the corresponding author of the paper, which has now been retracted.

Hong Ren, affiliated with Xi’an Jiao Tong University in China, told us that he decided to delay the student’s graduation after he discovered that the student had passed off the work.

It’s not at all obvious that a third party was involved from the brief retraction notice for “EMT phenotype is induced by increased Src kinase activity via Src-mediated caspase-8 phosphorylation:”

Read the rest of this entry »