Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘infectious disease’ Category

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 »

List of retractions, corrections grows for Duke researchers

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cov200hDuke researcher Michael Foster and his former co-author Erin Potts-Kant are adding to their notice count with a major correction from late last year to a paper on how certain cells in mice respond to a pneumonia infection, citing “potential discrepancies in the data.”

The correction is actually a partial retraction: The note explains that parts of three figures should be discounted.

We’ve also recently unearthed multiple corrections and two retractions from the pair that we missed from earlier in 2015.

After questions about the data in the corrected paper arose, the authors were able to replicate most of the experiments in the paper, according to the note. But since the paper was published, the senior author passed away, closing her lab, so they couldn’t repeat all of the work.

Here’s the correction notice for “Mast cell TNF receptors regulate responses to Mycoplasma pneumoniae in surfactant protein A (SP-A)−/− mice,” published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology:

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Journal bans authors following investigation confirming plagiarism

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Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 4.46.43 PMA journal has banned three researchers after an investigation confirmed that a “significant portion” of the text of their paper on screening for urinary tract infections had been plagiarized.

The researchers Sreenivasan SrirangarajArunava Kali and MV Pravin Charles, who are all based in India, won’t be allowed to publish in Australasian Medical Journal in the future, according to the retraction note.  

The retraction note takes the form of a letter from the Editor in Chief of the journal:

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Paper pulled when authors backtrack on identifying mad cow disease in Texas

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Journal food protectionA journal is pulling a paper that reported a grain sample in Texas tested positive for mad cow disease after the authors asked to change the results to say the sample contained “animal protein prohibited for use in ruminant feed.”

Shortly after the paper was published in October, the authors contacted the Journal of Food Protection to retract the finding that the grain sample tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). After review, the journal decided to retract the entire paper, with the authors’ agreement, citing changes that “significantly affect” the findings.

JFP scientific editor Lauren Jackson filled us in on some details: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract meningitis paper over permission — but data are in a public database

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plos1A study characterizing subtypes of the bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis is being retracted after the authors didn’t have permission to publish the data, even though the data itself remain available in a public database.

The paper, in PLOS ONE, relied on a laboratory collection of patient samples. In October, the authors retracted it because they “did not have permission” from the laboratory “to publish the data in their current form.” The data — anonymized — are now available at PubMLST.

Here’s the retraction notice, published on October 16: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

December 22nd, 2015 at 11:30 am

PLOS ONE issues editor’s note over controversial chronic fatigue syndrome research

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After a request for the original data was denied, PLOS ONE editors have flagged a 2012 sub analysis of a controversial clinical trial on chronic fatigue syndrome with an editor’s note.

The editor’s note — which reads like an Expression of Concern — reiterates the journal’s policy that authors make data and materials available upon request, and notes that staff are following up on “concerns” raised about the study.

There have been numerous requests for data from the “PACE” trial, as the clinical trial is known, which the authors say they have refused in order to protect patient confidentiality. On November 13, James Coyne, a psychologist at the University Medical Center, Groningen, submitted a request for the data from the PLOS ONE paper to King’s College London, where some of the authors were based. According to Coyne’s WordPress blog (he also has a blog hosted by PLOS), the journal asked him to let them know if he “had any difficulties obtaining the data.” He did — KCL denied the request last Friday (the whole letter is worth reading):

The university considers that there is a lack of value or serious purpose to your request. The university also considers that there is improper motive behind the request. The university considers that this request has caused and could further cause harassment and distress to staff.

Last author Peter White at Queen Mary University of London, UK, told us the journal had not asked them to release the data, but he would work with PLOS to address any questions:

We understand PLOS One are following up concerns expressed about the article, according to their internal processes. We will be happy to work with them to address any queries they might have regarding the research.

Here’s the editor’s note for “Adaptive Pacing, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Graded Exercise, and Specialist Medical Care for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis,” in full:

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Publisher error removes industry conflicts in vaccine paper

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An article about the use of vaccines against pertussis — also known as whooping cough — didn’t include the fact that the author has received grants and consultancy fees from three pharmaceutical companies that help make or sell the vaccines.

The correction to “Pertussis in young infants: a severe vaccine-preventable disease,” published in Autopsy and Case Reports just a few months after the paper, cites a “desktop publishing error” that led to the following problems: Read the rest of this entry »

Editors weren’t “unable to verify reviewer identities” — reviewers just weren’t qualified

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We can’t resist flagging some misleading language in a retraction note for a 2015 paper on the inner workings of an amoeba pathogen.

The note for “The Charms of the CHRM Receptors: Apoptotic and Amoebicidal effects of Dicyclomine on Acanthamoeba castellanii” is short, so we’re going to give it to you up front:

This accepted manuscript has been retracted because the journal is unable to verify reviewer identities.

Sounds like another case of faked emails to generate fake peer reviews, right? But that’s not what happened to this paper, according to the editor in chief of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Louis B. Rice, a professor at Brown University:

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Plagiarism was “not an intentional act,” says first author of retracted TB paper

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logoA 2013 review article about tuberculosis is being retracted for “unacknowledged re-use of significant portions of text” from another article, which the first author said wasn’t intentional.

Sayantan Ray, based at Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata in India, told us that “most of the unchanged text” is present in sections written by junior co-authors. Since there doesn’t appear to be any attempt to cover it up, he argued anyone responsible for the plagiarism must not have realized it was wrong:

You can appreciate that this type of obvious similarity can only happen when the concerned person [does] not have any idea about [the] plagiarism issue.

According to the notice, published by Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, most of the re-used text appears to have come from a 2012 paper in the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Here’s more from the notice:

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Cochrane withdraws review on zinc for colds for data concerns

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Cochrane_LogoThe Cochrane Library has withdrawn a 2013 systematic review on zinc’s ability to fight the common cold.

Cochrane often marks reviews “withdrawn” once new evidence emerges that renders them out of date — but in this case, the review was flagged while the editors investigate issues “regarding the calculation and analysis of data.”

Here’s the notice.

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