Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘plagiarism’ Category

A troubling new way to evade plagiarism detection software. (And how to tell if it’s been used.)

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Ann Rogerson

Recently, at the end of a tutorial, a student asked Ann Rogerson a question she’d never heard before: Was it okay to use paraphrasing tools to write up assignments? Rogerson, a senior lecturer in the faculty of business at the University of Wollongong in Australia, was stumped — she’d never heard of these tools before.

It turns out, the student had learned of the tool from another student. For an assignment, the student had taken wording from a journal article and run it through a free online tool that automatically paraphrases text, so it evades plagiarism detection software.

Immediately, Rogerson remembered wording from a previous student submission that had always bugged her — in an assignment about employee performance reviews, the student had written awkward phrases such as “constructive employee execution” and “worker execution audits.” A lightbulb went off for Rogerson.

She immediately went to her computer, looked up the tools on Google, and easily found one. She typed in “employee performance reviews,” and the tool spit out “representative execution surveys.”

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Written by Alison McCook

April 26th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Idea theft: Two food chemistry papers retracted for using someone’s ideas

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A researcher has retracted two papers after her former supervisor complained she had used his ideas and methodology.

In addition, some of the work was apparently covered by a copyright agreement.

Both papers were co-authored by the same three people. The idea theft came to light after one of the co-authors received a complaint from her former supervisor, prompting her to contact the publisher to resolve the issue.

Wendy Hurp, executive publisher of Food Science at Elsevier, which publishes the two journals, provided some additional background on what happened: Read the rest of this entry »

Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch lifted from earlier works in his scholarly papers: Report

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U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch appears to have borrowed material from multiple authors in his 2006 book, according to a new analysis by Politico.

This week, U.S. lawmakers are going head-to-head over the nomination of Gorsuch to the highest court in the land. Although the book is only one snippet of Gorsuch’s vast portfolio of writings, six independent experts contacted by Politico agreed that the flagged passages appear problematic.

Here’s more about documents obtained by the media outlet:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 5th, 2017 at 2:00 pm

“It’s been three tough years:” Macchiarini whistleblower cleared of previous charges

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Karl-Henrik Grinnemo

Karl-Henrik Grinnemo was worried. The doctor and clinical researcher at the Karolinska Institute was working with a high-profile surgeon who was performing a potentially life-saving procedure on patients, but Grinnemo saw that the patients weren’t doing very well. So in 2013, Grinnemo and three other doctors raised concerns about the work of Paolo Macchiarini. The surgeon initially fought back, and accused Grinnemo of misconduct. KI sided with the star surgeon, and found Grinnemo guilty of “carelessness” in a grant application to the Swedish Research Council, including plagiarism. Readers should by now know how the story ends – Macchiarini’s work has since been largely discredited. Recently, to clear his name, Grinnemo asked authorities to take a second look at his case – and he has been exonerated. We talked to him about the last few tumultuous years. 

Retraction Watch: How does the story begin?

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Written by Alison McCook

March 24th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Nightmare scenario: Text stolen from manuscript during review

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A food science journal has retracted a paper over “a breach of reviewer confidentiality,” after editors learned it contained text from an unpublished manuscript — which one of the authors appears to have reviewed for another journal.

The publisher and editors-in-chief of the Journal of Food Process Engineering became aware of the breach when the author of the unpublished manuscript lodged a complaint that his paper, under review at another journal, had been plagiarized by the now retracted paper.

We’re hazy on a few details in this case. Although the journal editor told us the “main author” of the retracted paper reviewed the original manuscript for another journal, the corresponding author of the retracted paper said he was not to blame. (More on that below.)

When looking into the matter, the publisher found that one of the co-authors of the published paper had acted as a reviewer of the unpublished manuscript. Alexandra Cury, an associate editor at Wiley, explained: Read the rest of this entry »

Another correction for prominent cancer researcher who’s dodged accusations for decades

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The chair of a biology department who has faced years of misconduct accusations has taken another hit—a lengthy correction due to text “overlap” between one of his PNAS papers and six other articles.

According to the correction, a reader contacted the journal to notify the editors that text and sentences in multiple sections of the 2015 paper — on which Carlo Croce is last author — were lifted from other sources without quotation marks.

This is the second correction for Croce in PNAS regarding overlap issues in just the last few weeks—the first was published on March 7 (see here). In both instances, PNAS did not call the textual similarities plagiarism, but the notice details multiple instances of overlap.

Croce, the chair of the department of cancer biology and genetics at The Ohio State University (OSU), is no stranger to controversy.

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Written by Victoria Stern

March 15th, 2017 at 11:30 am

“Knowledgeable informant” outs researchers for falsifying data

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A pathology journal has retracted a 2015 paper from researchers in China after concluding the authors had falsified and copied some of the data and text.

According to the notice, a “knowledgeable informant” told the journal about the overlap and “fraudulent” aspects of the paper, which the editors were able to confirm. The journal retracted the paper last month.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Genistein attenuates glucocorticoid-induced bone deleterious effects through regulation Eph/ephrin expression in aged mice:”

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Cancer researcher has dodged accusations for decades (and has a new correction)

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Today isn’t a great day for Carlo Croce, chair of the department of cancer biology and genetics at The Ohio State University (OSU).

The New York Times has a lengthy article detailing the misconduct accusations that have swirled around Croce for years. We’ve covered many, but The Gray Lady obtained documents that show there have been many more.

The story mentions a 2013 letter from Ohio State University to pseudonymous whistleblower Clare Francis (which we reported on in 2014), acknowledging Francis’s allegations against Croce. However, in the letter, an administrator said OSU saw no reason to investigate Croce.

The story didn’t stop there, as the Times reports:

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Something new: A journal publishes running tally of retractions

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Here’s something we haven’t seen before: A journal based in Serbia recently began listing all the articles it has retracted, all due to plagiarism.

Although preventing plagiarism is hardly a new goal for journals, creating a web page dedicated to retractions is certainly a novel attempt. (Even the home page has a link to the page, called “Retracted Articles.”)

This past February, the Journal of Process Management – New Technologies International did exactly that. Currently, this page on the journal’s website features five papers, all retracted in 2016, along with links to notices which indicate the original, plagiarized article.

First, let’s list the notice for “Impact of shopper’s creativeness on shopping methods: A case-study of students of University of Delhi (India),” published in 2014:

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Written by Victoria Stern

March 8th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Faked data, plagiarism, no co-author okays…yeah, this paper’s been retracted

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A researcher in South Korea has retracted a 2016 paper on which he is listed as senior author because a former student wrote and published the article without his permission.

According to the retraction notice, the former student also fabricated data and plagiarized “a substantial amount of material” from previous papers published by the senior and middle author.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Oleaginous yeast-based production of microbial oil from volatile fatty acids obtained by anaerobic digestion of red algae (Gelidium amansii),” published in the Korean Journal of Chemical Engineering in April 2016 and retracted in January: Read the rest of this entry »