Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘infectious disease’ Category

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This accepted manuscript has been retracted because the journal is unable to verify reviewer identities.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Cochrane_LogoThe Cochrane Library has withdrawn a 2013 systematic review on zinc’s ability to fight the common cold.

Cochrane often marks reviews “withdrawn” once new evidence emerges that renders them out of date — but in this case, the review was flagged while the editors investigate issues “regarding the calculation and analysis of data.”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

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Microbiology AustraliaA paper on schistosomiasis, a tropical disease spread by parasitic worms that live in freshwater snails, has been pulled because of an “irresolvable authorship dispute.”

Microbiology Australia published the retraction earlier this month in an agreement with the editors and the authors. Unfortunately, the notice doesn’t provide many details and that’s pretty much all we know.

Here’s the notice in full:

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“Rigging of the peer-review process” kills parasite paper

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A paper on nematode parasites appears to have been infected with a nasty strain of a publishing problem known as fake peer review. By our count, the phenomenon has felled approximately 250 papers in total.

The affected review, “The important role of matrix metalloproteinases in nematode parasites,” explores a type of enzyme secreted by the parasite. Published in Helminthologia, it’s been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Unfortunately, the retraction note doesn’t give us too many details about how the peer review process was manipulated:

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The worm has turned: Nematode study retracted for misidentification

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toxicol patholThe authors of a paper on parasitic nematodes have retracted the article because they misidentified the organism in question, so “the possibility of misleading readers was high.”

The paper, “Histopathological features of Capillaria hepatica infection in laboratory rabbits,” appeared in Toxicologic Pathology in 2009 and came from a lab at Huntingdon Life Sciences, in Cambridgeshire, England.

According to the abstract: Read the rest of this entry »

Plague or anthrax on the subway? Think again, says now-corrected study

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Cell SystemsAuthors of a widely covered study that documented traces of plague and anthrax on surfaces across New York City have revised the paper after public health officials challenged their interpretations of the data.

It’s hard to overestimate the attention these findings received when first published.

Bubonic plague found in NYC subway,” wrote The Daily Beast.

Your subway seat mate: Bubonic plague, anthrax, & mysterious DNA,” said Yahoo!

NY subway has bubonic plague,” declared Newser.

Not so fast. In an erratum published July 29, the authors write: Read the rest of this entry »

HIV postdoc faked data in published paper, 2 grants

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Julia Bitzegeio

An HIV researcher has admitted to faking data in a published paper, a manuscript, and two grant applications, according to a notice released today by the the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Former postdoc Julia Bitzegeio faked data in a 2013 paper, published in the Journal of Virology, about how HIV adapts to interferon. In the paper, “the manipulation was really minor,” Theodora Hatziioannouprincipal investigator of the lab at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC) in New York City where Bitzegeio worked, told Retraction Watch. “She just made cosmetic changes.”

The paper will be corrected, Hatziioannou said. Bitzegeio has left her lab, and her future is somewhat less clear:

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Ethics dispute forces retraction of paper on Hep C in Japanese leper colony

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jcmcoverHere’s a case of retraction being a hammer when a scalpel might have been better.

The authors of a 2011 paper in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology looking at transmission of hepatitis C in a former leper colony in Japan have retracted the article because an ethics panel in that country objected to the scientists’ use of fetal tissue.

The article involves a controversial aspect of modern Japanese history — the country’s efforts to eradicate leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, by isolating patients in a string of state-run sanatoriums. The policy was eventually realized to be unnecessary and ruled unconstitutional in 2001, triggering a wave of apologies to patients and their families.

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Journal quarantines MERS paper, posts EoC for “rights to use the data”

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ES_anniversary_bannerEurosurveillance is investigating potential problems with study on the deadly breakout of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in South Korea. The notice was issued after the journal discovered that study data might have been used without permission.

Epidemiological investigation of MERS-CoV spread in a single hospital in South Korea, May to June 2015,” was published last month by a group of researchers at the Gyeonggi Infectious Disease Control Center in Korea, and details 37 cases of people at one hospital, one portion of the nearly 200 who’ve developed the new respiratory infection since the outbreak began. The researchers tracked the path of infection from one initial patient to 25 secondary cases, who then infected 11 additional people. As the researchers note:

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