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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘unreliable findings’ Category

The camel doesn’t have two humps: Programming “aptitude test” canned for overzealous conclusion

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From Larry Summers to James Watson, certain scientists have a long and questionable tradition of using “data” to make claims about intelligence and aptitude.

So it’s no surprise that, when well-known computer scientist Richard Bornat claimed his PhD student had created a test to separate people who would succeed at programming versus those who didn’t, people happily embraced it. After all, it’s much easier to say there’s a large population that will just never get it, instead of re-examining your teaching methods.

The paper, called “The camel has two humps,” suggested instead of a bell curve, programming success rates look more like a two-humped ungulate: the kids who get it, and the kids who never will.

Though the paper was never formally published, it made the rounds pretty extensively. Now, Bornat has published a retraction, stating that he wrote the article during an antidepressant-driven mania that also earned him a suspension from his university. Here’s the meat of the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Cat Ferguson

July 18, 2014 at 8:30 am

Authors issue their own expression of concern about elephant femur paper

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interfaceThe authors of a 2012 paper in the journal Interface have had the journal issue an expression of concern about it after issues with “some of the data and methods” came to light.

Here’s the expression of concern for “What makes an accurate and reliable subject-specific finite element model? A case study of an elephant femur:” Read the rest of this entry »

Second Nature paper by researcher found to have violated academic integrity retracted

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Pankaj Dhonukshe

A second Nature paper co-authored by Pankaj Dhonukshe, formerly of Utrecht University and VIB Ghent, has been retracted.

Here’s the notice for “Generation of cell polarity in plants links endocytosis, auxin distribution and cell fate decisions:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Education researchers retract paper for differences in “positionality”

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Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 4.03.27 PMHere’s an odd one from the University of Western Australia’s education journal, Education Research and Perspectives: A paper was retracted at the request of the authors, both UWA professors, because the participants “may have differed significantly from others in terms of their positionality,” whatever that means.

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

Faked figure sinks paper on potential new MRI contrast agent

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langd5_v030i025.inddSurface chemistry journal Langmuir has retracted an article on a new MRI contrast agent — but only one of the authors agreed.

According to the notice:

Read the rest of this entry »

“Substantial flaws” trip up big toe paper

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rehabRehabilitation Research and Practice has retracted a 2012 review article on stiff big toes.

The article, “Therapeutic Management of the Hallux Rigidus,” came from a group in India. According to the abstract: Read the rest of this entry »

Chemistry paper in Science earns expression of concern for unreliable data

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science 62714A 2011 paper in Science has been subjected to an expression of concern and has led to an investigation by the Texas university where the work was done.

Here’s the expression of concern, signed by Science editor in chief Marcia McNutt (and paywalled): Read the rest of this entry »

Republished Seralini GMO-rat study was not peer-reviewed, says editor

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env sci europeIn our coverage Tuesday of the republication of the controversial retracted study of GMOs and rats by Gilles Seralini and colleagues, we wrote this about a strange passage in an editor’s note on the paper:

The republished study was peer-reviewed, according to the press materials, and Seralini confirmed that it was in an email to Retraction Watch. But we were curious what “any kind of appraisal of the paper’s content should not be connoted” meant. We asked Seralini and the editor of Environmental Sciences Europe, Henner Hollert, but neither responded.

Hollert has responded to the same question from Nature, which reports: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Retracted Seralini GMO-rat study republished

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env sci europeA highly controversial — and retracted — 2012 study by Gilles Seralini and colleagues of the effects of genetically modified maize and the Roundup herbicide on rats has been republished.

Retraction Watch readers may recall that the editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology decided to retract the heavily criticized paper because it was “inconclusive.” The editor, A. Wallace Hayes, claimed that this was consistent with Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines, although we and many others disagreed.

Here’s the original abstract of the Food and Chemical Toxicology paper, which has been cited 55 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 24, 2014 at 5:00 am

Ulrich Lichtenthaler retraction count rises to 16

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Ulrich Lichtenthaler

Ulrich Lichtenthaler

The pixels were barely dry on our post reporting the 14th and 15th retractions for management professor Ulrich Lichtenthaler Friday by the time his 16th retraction appeared.

Here’s the notice for “The role of deliberate and experiential learning in developing capabilities: Insights from technology licensing,” a paper originally published in 2012 in the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 16, 2014 at 8:30 am


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