Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘Third party’ Category

Pay to play? Three new ways companies are subverting academic publishing

with 15 comments

Some recent communications from companies involved in academic publishing have some journal representatives worried. In one instance, a manuscript editing company offered to pay an editor to help its papers get published in his journal; in another, a research ethics company threatened to investigate all of an author’s papers if he or she didn’t donate thousands to support the company’s efforts. Bottom line: Research authors (and editors) should beware companies offering unethical manuscript editing and other publishing services. Below are examples (which we’ve verified) compiled by Chris Graf, Co-Vice Chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and Society Partnership Director at Wiley; Richard Holt, editor-in-chief of Diabetic Medicine and researcher at the University of Southampton; Tamara Welschot, the Director of Research Integrity and Publishing Services at Springer Nature; and Matt Hodgkinson, Head of Research Integrity, Hindawi Limited.

We share for the benefit of researchers (and journal editors and publishers) three new warnings cut from the same cloth as other recent peer review “scams.” These warnings appear to indicate that third parties continue to attempt to inappropriately influence peer review and journal publishing.

Here are the details.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

March 7th, 2017 at 9:34 am

Posted in Third party

Medical journal retracts study over fake review, authorship concerns

with 2 comments

european-journal-of-medical-researchA journal has retracted a 2015 study about lung cancer after learning the peer-review process had been compromised.

The paper was published in March, 2015 — the same month publisher BioMed Central (BMC) pulled 43 papers for fake reviews.

According to the retraction notice in the European Journal of Medical Research, the authors’ institution in China informed the publisher that the authors had used a third party to help with copyediting and submission to the journal, raising concerns about the authorship of the paper.

Here’s the retraction notice, published in August: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

November 2nd, 2016 at 9:30 am

7 signs a scientific paper’s authorship was bought

with 18 comments

sol

Maria Sol Bernardez Sarria

Peggy Mason

Peggy Mason

Did you know there is a black market for scientific papers? Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of authors purchasing a spot on the author list of papers-for-sale – and the better the journal, the higher the price. This worrisome trend has been on the minds of Peggy Mason at the University of Chicago and Maria Sol Bernardez Sarria of Yale University, formerly associated with the Ethics Committee of the Society for Neuroscience, which publishes the Journal of Neuroscience (Mason as Chair from 2013 to 2015, and Bernardez Sarria as assistant). In this capacity, they regularly scanned several websites and journals for ethics-related information, and developed an approach that might give away sold authorship. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 24th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Ever heard of China’s “five don’ts of academic publishing?”

with 3 comments

castNo country is immune to misconduct — but some are being more proactive than others.

China, for one, has issued a policy dubbed the “5 don’ts of academic publishing,” which appear to specifically target the ways in which researchers have subverted the peer-review process or hired outsiders to help them with their manuscripts.

An announcement signed by the The Chinese Association for Science and Technology (CAST), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and Technology, Health and Family Planning Commission, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academy of Engineering, and the Natural Science Foundation stipulates: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

A retraction cluster? Two papers retracted for overlap with other retractions

without comments

molecular biology reportA cluster of papers by different authors has been retracted for sharing text, even though some papers were submitted at the same time.

How is that possible? A spokesperson for Springer told us that they have reason to believe a third-party company may have helped prepare the papers for publication, and in the process might have spread the material around to multiple manuscripts.

The details of the cluster are a bit perplexing, so bear with us. Two of the papers — that were published only months apart — have already been retracted, as we reported in April. Now, two other papers have been retracted from Molecular Biology Reports — and both notices cite the previously retracted papers. The new notices also say that there’s reason to believe that the peer-review process was compromised.

All papers conclude that a certain polymorphism could signal a risk for coronary artery disease among Chinese people.

We’ll start with the retraction notice for “Fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 polymorphisms and coronary artery disease: a case control study,” which cites the two papers that were retracted previously:

Read the rest of this entry »

PhD student expelled for submitting paper without co-authors’ consent

with 10 comments

PLOS OneA PhD student has been expelled from a university in China after publishing a paper in PLOS ONE without the permission of her co-authors, and using an external company to complete some of the work. 

PLOS ONE has now retracted the paper, noting that they were tipped off to the problems by a reader who raised concerns about some of the figures. The notice states that the study’s first author, Zhenni Zhang, takes full responsibility. 

The last author of the paper Zongfang Li from the Xi’an Jiaotong University in China — told us Zhang was his PhD student who was close to completing her PhD, but has now been expelled.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on July 25: Read the rest of this entry »

Author pulls study for duplication, blames editing company

with 10 comments

MedChemCommThe author of a paper about insulin has retracted it due to “extensive text and data overlap” with another paper.

In November 2015, MedChemComm issued an expression of concern (EOC) for the same paper. According to the EOC, the author of the paper, Yong Yang, flagged the paper to the journal, citing problems with authorship and portions of text overlap, which Yang attributed to an editing company.  

The editor-in-chief of the journal told us Yang’s institution — China Medical University — carried out an investigation into the case at the journal’s request.

We’ve also found a 2015 retraction for Yang, after he published a paper without the okay of his previous institution in Texas. 

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

Botanist pair’s paper retracted, others questioned on PubPeer

with 10 comments

Plant Science TodayA plant sciences journal has pulled a 2016 paper for manipulated images after the study came under question at PubPeer.

According to the notice, the authors claim that the images were supplied by a “service provider;” the editor-in-chief of the journal told us he doesn’t have any details on this third party’s identity.

The first author of the retracted paper in Plant Science Today Dibyendu Talukdar, from the University of Calcutta in West Bengal, India — has several other papers being questioned on PubPeer. His co-author, Tulika Talukdar, who is based at Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy Government College in West Bengal, India, according to her ResearchGate page, is a co-author on three of these papers. According to the present paper, however, Tulika Talukdar is affiliated with Raja Peary Mohan College, which is part of the University of Calcutta.

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

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

July 5th, 2016 at 2:00 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 »

Editors say they missed “fairly obvious clues” of third party tampering, publish fake peer reviews

with 14 comments

BJCP Cover

The editors of a journal that recently retracted a paper after the peer-review process was “compromised” have published the fake reviews, along with additional details about the case.

In the editorial titled “Organised crime against the academic peer review system,” Adam Cohen and other editors at the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology say they missed “several fairly obvious clues that should have set alarm bells ringing.” For instance, the glowing reviews from supposed high-profile researchers at Ivy League institutions were returned within a few days, were riddled with grammar problems, and the authors had no previous publications. 

The case is one of many we’ve recently seen in which papers are pulled due to actions of a third party

The paper was submitted on August 5, 2015. From the beginning, the timing was suspect, Cohen — the director for the Centre for Human Drug Research in The Netherlands — and his colleagues note: Read the rest of this entry »