Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘unreliable findings’ Category

Cancer researcher earns 3 more retractions following NIH misconduct investigation

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A researcher formerly based at the National Cancer Institute has earned three new retractions following an investigation that found she committed misconduct.

In May of last year, Stephanie Watkins, who now works at Loyola Medicineearned two retractions, which mention a review by an investigation committee at the National Institutes of Health. Two of the new notes, published in Cancer Research, mention the review as well, and cite data falsification in a figure as the reason for retraction. Watkins is the only author that did not agree to those retractions.

There may be more changes to the literature — an editor at another cancer journal told us the journal is awaiting a decision from the Office of Research Integrity before deciding what to do with a paper by Watkins, given that she does not agree with the misconduct charges.

We’ll start with a retraction note from Cancer Research:

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Five more notices for Duke pulmonary pair brings retraction tally into double digits

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Two retractions and three corrections have appeared for a group of Duke researchers that already have 10+ retractions under their belts.

The reasoning behind them echoes that which we’ve seen before in notices for Michael Foster and Erin Potts-Kant: Following an inquiry from the university, the journals were informed that some of the data or results weren’t reliable, and not all of the experiments could be repeated.

A colleague aware of the case said that researchers are still working to repeat experiments from papers by Potts-Kant and Foster. It is not known how many more papers might be corrected or retracted. Duke University is fully supporting the validation of these experiments, the source told us.

Foster has retired from Duke, a spokesperson for the university confirmed. Read the rest of this entry »

Concerns attached to three more papers by retraction-laden management researcher

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Fred Walumbwa

Fred Walumbwa

Fred Walumbwa, a management researcher with eight seven retractions, has received three expressions of concern from two journals after he failed to provide raw data following an investigation into potential errors.

In the past, Walumbwa has said he only keeps data until his papers are published, but a lack of raw data has become a common theme in his notices, which now also include four corrections, and one other EOC (making a new total of four). There are no standard rules about how long to store raw data, but one journal that issued two of the new EOCs has since updated its submission policy to require that authors keep data for at least five years.

Walumbwa currently works at Florida International University. When concerns about the statistics were raised about five of his papers in Personnel Psychology, the journal conducted an investigation that led to flagging two of those articles, the expression of concern explains:

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Poop paper flushed due to possible sample contamination

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cover (3)The authors of a paper on a new probiotic strain of bacteria found in pig feces have retracted it from Animal Science Journal after discovering some of the bacteria might have been contaminated.

Readers likely know by now how easy it is for this to happen, as we frequently report on retractions due to similar reasons. Like other instances of mistaken cell identity, the authors of this 2013 paper realized the mistake following further tests of the bacteria used in the experiment.

The retraction for “Isolation, characterization, and effect of administration in vivo, a novel probiotic strain from pig feces

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Son sees dead father in case report, requests retraction

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ijscrAuthors have retracted a case report describing a surgery to remove gallstones in a patient with Crohn’s disease after learning they’d mixed up two cases, and instead reported on a patient who had died 21 days after the procedure.

We were alerted to this story by La Repubblica, and contacted by the son of the patient (who asked not to be named, for privacy reasons). He told us he found the study and asked the journal to retract it:

…I can say that it was absolutely devastating to realise that the pictures I was looking at were from the surgery that led to the death of my father. It is something that gives me a lot of sorrow thinking that the man in that picture with the open belly was him, when he was fighting for his life. I asked the rest of my family not to see them to avoid them the same shock.

Even before the retraction appeared, we received confirmation it was coming from Giuseppe Paolisso, the Principal of the School of Medicine at the Second University of Naples, where the authors are based: Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroscience journal retracts paper for lack of “scientific soundness”

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Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 9.21.12 AMAn unusual article that considered the concept of change from a systems perspective — including change in medicine, economics, and decision-making, for instance — has, well, changed from “published” to “retracted.”

After commenters on PubPeer called the 2014 paper “gibberish” and even suggested it might be computer-generated, Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience retracted it, noting it “does not meet the standards of editorial and scientific soundness” for the journal, according to the retraction notice. The paper’s editor and author maintain there was nothing wrong with the science in the paper.

Here’s the full note for “Sensing risk, fearing uncertainty: systems science approach to change:” Read the rest of this entry »

Family squabble over safety of eye therapy forces journal to pull paper

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A father and son are fighting over whether a laser therapy they describe as co-authors of a 2015 paper could be harmful to patients, prompting the journal to retract the article.

The small study suggested that the therapy could safely treat patients with glaucoma. But Tomislav Ivandic — the father — alleges that errors in how the study was reported could lead to harmful doses of laser light for patients receiving the therapy. His son and co-author, Boris Ivandic, maintains that the article is accurate.

To err on the side of patient safety, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery retracted “Effects of Photobiomodulation Therapy on Patients with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma: A Pilot Study.”

The retraction note explains the dispute:

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Retracted anesthesia study “was not conducted in reality”

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coverWe’ve come across a new way to say the data in a paper are not reliable:

It has been found that the study represented in the article was not conducted in reality.

That’s from the retraction note for a paper that Anesthesia Essays and Researches has retracted for data falsification. The rest of the retraction note for “Intrathecal dextmedetomidine to reduce shoulder tip pain in laparoscopic cholecystectomies under spinal anesthesia” explains:

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Another paper by GM researcher pulled over manipulation concerns

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Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.52.18 AMA researcher who published findings questioning the safety of genetically modified organisms has lost a second paper following concerns of image manipulation.

Last week, the journal animal retracted a 2010 paper by Federico Infascelli, an animal nutrition researcher at the University of Naples, which claimed to find modified genes in the milk and blood of goats who were fed genetically modified soybeans. The retraction stems from an investigation that concluded the authors likely manipulated images, according to the note. Earlier this year, another journal retracted one of Infascelli’s papers that contained a duplicated figure.

In February, Italian paper La Repubblica (which we read with Google Translate) reported that the university found problems in three of his articles and issued a warning.

Here’s the retraction note for “Fate of transgenic DNA and evaluation of metabolic effects in goats fed genetically modified soybean and in their offsprings:”

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Poll: If authors don’t address mistakes, is that misconduct?

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cover_natureIn an interesting letter printed in today’s Nature, biologists Sophien Kamoun and Cyril Zipfel suggest that “failure by authors to correct their mistakes should be classified as scientific misconduct.”

They note that this policy is already in place at their institute, The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL).

We contacted Kamoun to ask what constituted a mistake, given that numerous papers have received queries, such as on sites like PubPeer, but it’s not clear whether those are legitimate mistakes. He told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

March 10th, 2016 at 1:00 pm