Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Economists go wild over overlooked citations in preprint on prenatal stress

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The_American_Economic_Review_(cover)Citation omissions in an economics preprint have set off a wave of recrimination and speculation on a widely read economics discussion board.

Commenters accuse the authors of purposely omitting citations that would have undermined the paper’s claims to novelty and contributions to the field, leveling acrimony and personal attacks. Economists Petra Persson at Stanford and Maya Rossin-Slater at the University of California, Santa Barbara told us they hadn’t been familiar with the omitted papers at the time they first posted their preprint, but their work remains distinct from these previous studies. Nevertheless, the two quickly updated the preprint of their paper – accepted by the top-tier economics journal American Economic Review – to include additional citations. An editor at the journal said it’s not unusual for authors to request such changes before publication, and dismissed the accusations made on the discussion board, calling the site “not a legitimate source of information.”

The study, “Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation,” used data from Swedish national databases to compare mental health outcomes of people born to women who lost a relative while pregnant and women who lost a relative in the first year after giving birth. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Emily Willingham

May 26th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Dutch university ordered to pay economist after she was accused of plagiarism

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VU UniversityA court in the Netherlands has fined Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) 7,500 euros to compensate for “immaterial damage” to an economist accused of plagiarism.

Karima Kourtita researcher at VU, has been at the receiving end of anonymous complaints to her institution accusing her of plagiarism and her professor, high-profile economist Peter Nijkamp, of duplication (i.e. self-plagiarism). Kourtit is now seeking to prosecute the unnamed source of the complaint for defamation; the VU told us it will no longer accept fully anonymous complaints.

The case began when VU cancelled Kourtit’s thesis defense for plagiarism, and a report published on the VSNU, the Association of Universities, accused Nijkamp of self-plagiarism. Two of Nijkamp’s papers have been retracted as a result of the investigation; Kourtit is an author on one of the retracted papers.

A VU spokesperson told us:

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Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

May 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Ever been asked to review your own paper? This economist was

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Serdar Sayan

Serdar Sayan

“Eerily familiar”: That’s how Serdar Sayan of TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Turkey says it felt to read a submission to the Scandinavian Journal of Economics, after the journal asked him to review the manuscript. It turns out, it was Sayan’s paper, word for word, equation for equation, down to the last punctuation mark. But this wasn’t a case of authors faking email addresses for reviewers to rubber stamp their own work – instead, the author had plagiarized from a paper Sayan had published a few years earlier. Sayan describes the surreal experience in the Review of Social Economy (vol. 74, no. 1, 2016), in a paper titled: “Serving as a referee for your own paper: A dream come true or…?

“I have been asked by a journal to serve as a referee for my own paper. Obviously, this sounds just as unlikely, and probably almost as intriguing, as saying ‘I have attended my own funeral.’” — Serdar Sayan, Review of Social Economy (vol. 74, no. 1, 2016)

Retraction Watch: When you looked at the paper, how long did it take you to figure out what had happened? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 12th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Peer review scam leader now up to 20 retractions

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Khalid Zaman

Khalid Zaman

We’ve unearthed four more retractions for Khalid Zaman, an economist who lost 16 papers in 2014 for orchestrating fake peer review.

That brings Zaman’s total to 20, and ties him at the #18 spot on our leaderboard.

One of the more recently discovered retractions is for fake peer review, attributed to Zaman; one is for plagiarism, and two other papers were withdrawn while in press, for reasons that are unclear. (Note bene: These retractions are all at least one year old.)

First, the retraction notice for peer review issues, published in April 2015 for “Environmental Indicators and Energy Outcomes: Evidence from World Bank’s Classification Countries:”

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Economics paper retracted due to “extensive changes”

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727710An article has been retracted from a proceedings of an economics conference after the publisher identified errors in several parts of the study.

The retraction follows criticism from a Romanian blogger, who contacted the journal about several issues, and posted communications she received about the paper, “Sustainability of Social Enterprises: A Discourse Analysis.” It was part of a volume of Procedia Economics and Finance from a 2014 conference, “Economic Scientific Research – Theoretical, Empirical and Practical Approaches,” also known as ESPERA 2014.

According to the paper, peer review was

under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of ESPERA 2014.

Apparently, the peer review process missed a few errors. The retraction note explains:

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Written by Shannon Palus

April 25th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Mistaken plagiarism? Journal retracts education paper that inadvertently included others’ work

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An education journal is pulling a 2014 paper about how US funding partnerships in Africa could alleviate local poverty, after the author admitted to mistakenly lifting sentences from work presented at a 2012 conference.

Author Christopher S. Collins at Azusa Pacific University took full responsibility for the plagiarism, and told us he suggested the journal retract the paper — but also proposed alternatives, such as adding the plagiarized author as a co-author, or publishing “an error sheet” that cites the material in the sentences in question.

If it’s hard to imagine how someone could plagiarize another researcher’s work by mistake, Collins explained what happened in a 900-word statement, in which he also told us how he is moving forward professionally and personally.

Here’s how some plagiarized sentences ended up in Can funding for university partnerships between Africa and the US contribute to social development and poverty reduction?” in Higher Education, according to Collins:

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Written by Shannon Palus

March 17th, 2016 at 11:30 am

More than half of top-tier economics papers are replicable, study finds

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scienceApproximately six out of 10 economics studies published in the field’s most reputable journals American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics are replicable, according to a study published today in Science.

The authors repeated the results of 18 papers published between 2011 and 2014 and found 11 approximately 61% lived up to their claims. But the study found the replicated effect to be on average only 66% of that reported in the earlier studies, which suggests that authors of the original papers may have exaggerated the trends they reported.

Colin Camerer, a behavioral economist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who co-authored the study, “Evaluating replicability of laboratory experiments in economics,” told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

March 3rd, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Anonymous complaint about Dutch economist is “unfounded”: Report

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Peter Nijkamp

Peter Nijkamp

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) has dismissed an anonymous accusation against economist Peter Nijkamp and two of his colleagues, including one of his graduate students, regarding issues related to “data acquisition and data processing.”

The announcement, released last week, determined the latest complaint was “unfounded:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

January 19th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Correction restores confidence in results of confidence study

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Strategic Management JournalA study that looked at how entrepreneurs’ confidence levels change depending on market conditions has been corrected to fix an error that flipped the results of one of the experiments.

The paper was published in 2013 by the Strategic Management Journaland explored how entrepreneurs stay confident in difficult marketplaces by studying how people reacted to tasks of varying difficulty. In one experiment, participants were asked how well they thought they did on an easy quiz and how well they did on a hard quiz. Results showed that “participants underestimated their scores on the easy quiz” and “overestimated their performance on the difficult quiz.” However, authors wrote the opposite in the final paper.

Here’s the correction notice for “Making Sense of Overconfidence in Market Entry”:

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Mega-correction for “empirical anomalies” in management paper

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The Academy of Management JournalThe author of a paper that looked at how the geographical spread of research and development sites has impacted innovation has posted a four-page list of corrections that fixed “empirical anomalies” in the paper.

A group of PhD students raised concerns about the paper’s findings, according to the editor-in-chief of The Academy of Management Journal, Gerard George. The journal formed a committee that worked with the author to reproduce the results. That ended with a correction to two of the paper’s three hypotheses, and corresponding parts of the text.

The four-page notice — (the details of which are paywalled, unfortunately) — includes notes from the journal’s editor and the author:

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