Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘environmental retractions’ Category

Error-laden database kills paper on extinction patterns

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An ecologist in Australia realized a database he was using to spot trends in extinction patterns was problematic, affecting two papers. One journal issued an expression of concern, which has since turned into a retraction. So far, the other journal has left the paper untouched.

The now-retracted paper concluded that medium-sized species on islands tend to go extinct more often than large or small mammalian species. But a little over a year ago, Biology Letters flagged the paper with an expression of concern (EOC), noting “concerns regarding the validity of some of the data and methods used in the analysis.”

Now, last author Marcel Cardillo at Australian National University has come to a new conclusion about extinction patterns. A retraction notice that has replaced the EOC explains:

Read the rest of this entry »

Entomology journal retracts 2016 study with flawed analyses

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journal-of-medical-entomologyAn entomology journal has issued its first retraction during the current editor’s nearly 30-year tenure — for a 2016 study with serious flaws in the analyses. 

After the Journal of Medical Entomology (JME) published the study — about the identification of genes that enable an insect to detect odors — an outside researcher wrote a letter to the journal highlighting flaws in the paper. The journal then asked the authors to respond, and enlisted two additional peer reviewers to look into the study, the outside comment, and the authors’ response. They concluded the paper should be retracted.

William Reisen — the journal’s editor-in-chief from the University of California, Davis — said the journal believes the errors were unintentional and there was no fraud on the authors’ part. He added: Read the rest of this entry »

Two journals, same name: Did one editor retract the other’s paper?

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amphibian-and-reptile-conservationTwo journals sharing the same title — allegedly due to an “academic divorce” between the founders — are giving two different accounts to why a paper may (or may not) have been retracted.

Confused yet? We are.

Here’s what we can piece together. The journal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation once had two editors, Craig Hassapakis and Robert Browne; both names appear on the same cover of a 2011-2012 issue of the journal, as librarian Jeffrey Beall noted in a blog post published last year. But since then, there seems to have been an “academic split” between the two (as defined by Beall), and each now publishes a different version of the publication named Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

Recently, we came across a 2013 paper co-authored by Browne marked “Retracted” on the version of the site founded by Craig HassapakisBrowne’s version of the journal can be found here

Meanwhile, the study’s first author, Omar Fadhil Al-Sheikhly from the University of Baghdad in Iraq, claims the paper was never retracted in the first place: Read the rest of this entry »

Retraction notice for GMO paper updated to include fraud

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fns2015012717103119Earlier this year, a nutrition journal retracted an article about the potential dangers of eating food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), noting the paper contained a duplicated image.

At the time, news outlets in Italy were reporting accusations that the last author, Federico Infascelli, an animal nutrition researcher at the University of Naples, had falsified some of his research.

Food and Nutrition Sciences has now updated its initial notice, saying the paper was pulled for data fabrication. In addition, Infascelli is no longer listed on its editorial board – he is included on an archived link to the editorial board from March 2016, but not on the current list of members.

Here is the updated version of the retraction notice for “Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Activity in Kids Born from Goats Fed Genetically Modified Soybean:” Read the rest of this entry »

Ecology journal flags carnivore paper under investigation

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journal-of-applied-ecologyAn ecology journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a recently published study, citing an institutional investigation about the data and conclusions.

According to the notice — issued by the Journal of Applied Ecology — the author’s institution in South Africa has received a report from an independent examiner. The editors are reviewing the paper — about reducing the impact of lethal carnivores such as black-backed jackals — “in light of this information.”

An official from the journal told us the investigation has to do with “relevant background information” that was not included in the study, published online in December.

Here’s the EOC, published earlier this month: Read the rest of this entry »

Renewable energy researcher with troubled record loses another paper

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renewable-sustainable-energy-reviewsA renewable energy researcher who recycled material in several papers — and has already agreed to withdraw 10 studies — has lost another paper.

In January, we reported that six of 10 papers flagged by an investigation into author Shyi-Min Lu have either been retracted or withdrawn. Now, Lu has lost another paper that was not among the previous ten — again, for reproducing figures from earlier works without seeking permission from original authors. This paper was on a hot topic: gas hydrates, considered to be a potential new energy source to replace oil in the 21st century.

The investigations into Lu’s work took place at the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Hsinchu, Taiwan, where he was formerly based, and the National Taiwan University, in Taipei, Taiwan, which fired Lu from his position at the university’s energy research center.

Here’s the retraction notice in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, issued last month: Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve been dupe’d: Results so nice, they’re published twice

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obesity surgeryWith retraction notices continuing to pour in, we like to occasionally take the opportunity to cover several at a time to keep up.

We’ve compiled a handful of retractions that were all issued to papers that were published twice by at least one of the same authors — known as duplication. (Sometimes, this can be the publisher’s fault, although that doesn’t appear to be the case in any of the following examples.)

So here are five recently retracted papers that were pulled because of duplication: Read the rest of this entry »

High-profile Science paper on fish and plastics may earn notice of concern

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science mag coverScience is considering adding an expression of concern (EOC) to a June paper that caught the media’s attention for showing how human pollution may be harming fish, following allegations of research misconduct.

A group of researchers allege the paper — which suggested fish larvae are eating small particles of plastic rather than their natural prey — contains missing data and used a problematic methodology. After the researchers submitted a formal letter (available here), Uppsala University in Sweden is now conducting an inquiry, the first step in determining whether to launch a formal investigation.

A spokesperson from Science told Retraction Watch that once the journal independently verifies that an investigation is underway, it will issue an EOC for the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract study that found pollution near fracking sites

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Environmental Science and TechnologyThe authors of two environmental papers, including one about the effects of fracking on human health, have retracted them after discovering crucial mistakes.

One of the studies reported an increased level of air pollution near gas extraction sites, and the other suggested that 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico contributed to air contamination.

According to the corresponding author of both papers, Kim Anderson at Oregon State University, the journal plans to publish new versions of both papers in the next few days. In the case of the fracking paper, the conclusions have been reversed — the original paper stated pollution levels exceeded limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lifetime cancer risk, but the corrected data set the risks below EPA levels.

The fracking paper received some media attention when it was released, as it tapped into long-standing concerns about the environmental dangers of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which extracts natural gas from the earth. A press release that accompanied the paper quoted Anderson as warning: Read the rest of this entry »

More than $100M worth of research may be tainted by govt lab misconduct

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usgsMisconduct by a chemist at a Colorado lab run by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has potentially affected  24 research and assessment projects, supported by $108 million in federal funding, government officials have disclosed.

According to a June 15 statement from the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees the USGS, the operator of a mass spectrometer in the Inorganic Section of the Energy Resources Program’s (ERP) Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood has been accused of scientific misconduct and manipulating data. The unit is responsible for conducting coal and water quality assessments in projects both in the United States and abroad.

The inorganic section closed following the discovery of the misconduct, and we have yet to learn the fate of the employee involved. As the statement notes, problems with the lab’s data were common knowledge among workers at the facility: Read the rest of this entry »