Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘plagiarism’ Category

Researchers plagiarized chapter of doctoral thesis in mol bio paper

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mol cell biochemA journal has pulled a paper about the molecular details of different types of adipose tissues after learning the researchers had plagiarized much of a Ph.D. thesis.

The researchers copied from former Ph.D. student Bettina Meissburger’s doctoral thesis in a 2013 paper in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. The retraction note for “Adipose stromal-vascular fraction-derived paracrine factors regulate adipogenesis” provides the name of Meissburger’s thesis: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mia Garchitorena

February 11th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Why plagiarism is such a problem for German PhDs: Q&A with Debora Weber-Wulff

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Debora Weber-Wulff, c. 2015 Nina Zimmermann

Debora Weber-Wulff, c. 2015 Nina Zimmermann

Why do so many PhD students publishing their medical theses in German resort to brazen plagiarism, even copying from people in their own research groups? We’re pleased to present a Q&A with Debora Weber-Wulff, based at the University of Applied Sciences HTW Berlin in Germany. She recently published a case study for the Council of Europe that shows a surprisingly high number of cases of plagiarism in medical PhD theses submitted to German universities, as well as a few in other European countries. Weber-Wulff is a member of the VroniPlag Wiki, a group of German-language scientists who have been scanning for — and publicly tracking — cases of plagiarism. They’ve published documentations on more than 155 cases so far, and begun investigations on over 200 more, including some very high-profile cases. We talked to Weber-Wulff about why plagiarism is such a problem in German medical PhD programs.

Retraction Watch: You note that German medical dissertations aren’t taken seriously, relative to many other countries. Why is that? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 11th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Another case of plagiarism in papers published only months apart

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pageHeaderTitleImageRemember when we recently found PLOS ONE had published two papers with “substantial overlap” from two different groups, that were edited around the same time? Well, we have discovered another similarly perplexing case of plagiarism in two studies published only months apart. But in this instance, we have a possible explanation for how two groups of authors from different institutions could report a similar experiment and data, and even use some of the same text.

It also concerns a paper focusing on cancer biology — in this case, it’s a 2014 paper retracted by Clinical and Investigative Medicine after editors learned that it contained many similarities to a study published only a handful of months before in Tumour Biology.

According to an email from an author on the retracted paper to the editor, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ross Keith

February 2nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Wikipedia page reincarnated as paper: Authors plagiarized paper on reincarnation

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When an entry on Wikipedia dies, can it come back as a paper in a peer-reviewed journal?

Apparently not, according to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, which has retracted a 2013 article about reincarnation after discovering the authors lifted text from a “old revision” of a Wikipedia entry on the subject.

The article, “The mystery of reincarnation,” states that:

One of the mysteries puzzling human mind since the origin of mankind is the concept of “reincarnation” which literally means “to take on the flesh again.”

The article presents how different religions describe reincarnation, and apparently provides “some research evidence” about the phenomenon. But according to the retraction notice, the authors, led by AK Nagaraj of Mysore Medical College, took on the words again of other writers:

Read the rest of this entry »

Here are the 10 — yes, 10 — reasons PLOS ONE retracted this paper

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Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 10.50.25 AMPLOS One is retracting a paper for overlapping with a Wikipedia page. And for containing material lifted from other sources. And for “language errors.” And for insufficient evidence that authors found the pathogens floating around in hospital air that they claimed to find.

The instances of plagiarism are a “huge problem,” each “enough for retraction on its own,” Jonathan Eisen, a microbiologist at the University of California, Davis, told us. Eisen, who posted several comments to the paper after its publication in October, added that the paper was “simply not technically sound.”

The paper — which even contains a spelling error in its title, “Metagenomic Human Repiratory Air in a Hospital Environment” — describes a gene sequencing method to screen the air in hospitals for pathogens. The retraction note lists 10 concerns with the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

ASU prof resigns following plagiarism charges, receives $150k+ salary until May 2017

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Matthew Whitaker

Matthew Whitaker

A faculty member at Arizona State University has resigned after he was placed on administrative leave while the university investigated plagiarism charges against him.

According to a copy of the settlement agreement obtained by the Arizona Republic, he will continue to receive his salary of more than $150,000 for more than one year.

He will also be reimbursed $25,000 in attorney fees.

According to the agreement: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

January 19th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Satellite paper grounded for plagiarizing — from the same journal

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1-s2.0-S0094576515X00129-cov150hPlagiarism happens; we see it a lot. But some cases stand out from the crowd.

For instance, we just came across an example where authors plagiarized from a paper in the same journal. Specifically, a 2015 paper on satellite orbits was found to have “extensive overlap” with another paper published in Acta Astronautica four years earlier. The last authors of the papers have connections, too — they used to work together at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in India, and in 2006, they co-authored a paper together.

M. Xavier James Raj is author on the retracted paper. He was a PhD student under R.K. Sharma, author of the paper he borrowed from. Sharma currently works at Karunya University in India.

Here’s the retraction note for “Analytical orbit predictions for low and high eccentricity orbits using uniformly regular KS canonical elements in an oblate atmosphere:”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

January 18th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Robot for stroke patients paper copied 3 pages of equations

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A 2014 paper on a robotic system for patients who have had a stroke contains three pages of equations that are not original.

According to the retraction note, “Cascade controller design and stability analysis in FES-aided upper arm stroke rehabilitation robotic system” copied the equations from a paper that other researchers presented at a conference in 2012. The papers both describe a system that delivers a boost of electricity to stroke patients’ arms to help them perform a task.

Here’s the note, from Nonlinear Dynamics:

Read the rest of this entry »

Communications researcher regrets “severe shortcomings” in three publications

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3A communications researcher in Switzerland has made a few errors in his efforts to communicate his research.

Peter J. Schulz, who works at the University of Lugano, has lost a paper which did not “appropriately acknowledge” another paper as its primary source. He has also corrected a paper with “severe shortcomings in the references.” Both papers were published in the journal Argumentation. 

In addition, he is facing allegations that a book chapter contains some unattributed material.

Schultz acknowledged the problems in a statement he emailed to us:

I regret very much the severe shortcomings in the three publications.

Here’s the retraction note for “Comments on ‘Strategic Manoeuvring with the Intention of the Legislator in the Justification of Judicial Decisions’”: Read the rest of this entry »

Romanian law shortens jail time for prisoners who write books. (They may ax it.)

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600px-Flag_of_Romania.svgRomanian officials are taking a stand against a long-standing oddity in the law that entitles prisoners to 30 days off their jail sentence for every piece of academic writing they author.

The crackdown is occurring after a surge in jail literature in the last two years— approximately 200 inmates have authored around 400 scientific works — according to figures recently released by the Romanian Ministry of Justice.

Although the law has existed since 1969, only four such scientific papers were published until 2010 (one each year from 2007). The numbers have, however, since escalated to Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

January 12th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Posted in plagiarism,romania