Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘math retractions’ Category

No new math: Journal pulls math paper with “already known” results

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A mathematics journal has withdrawn a paper after discovering that the results were not new.

The paper, published online in March in Communications in Algebra, explored the properties of group rings, a discipline of algebra. According to editor-in-chief of the journal, Jason Bell, author Francis E. A. Johnson, a professor of mathematics at the University College London, devised a property associated with group rings, and defined it using the term “weakly finite.” But, at the time, Johnson was not aware that other experts had already defined the same property, using the term “stably finite.”

Bell, a professor of mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and Lance Small, the journal’s other editor-in-chief, stressed that this issue was “definitely not a matter of plagiarism.” Bell and Small told us in a joint statement that “it was ultimately no one’s fault—it is just one of these things that can happen occasionally in mathematics research.” But given the overlap, the editors thought it best to withdraw the paper, they said: Read the rest of this entry »

Rutgers prof announces retraction on his blog

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A Rutgers computer scientist is retracting conference proceedings via an unusual channel: his personal blog.

On April 7, Anand Sarwate wrote that he was retracting a mathematical proof from the proceedings from the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP), after discovering errors that invalidated the result.

He explains in the blog post why the mistake occurred:

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A retraction gets retracted — but the first author’s contract is still terminated

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After issuing a retraction notice May 30 for a biomedical engineering paper, the journal has since pulled the notice, citing “a potential problem.”

After doing some digging, we’ve learned more about the “potential problem.”

Apparently, the retraction was requested by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. NTU has been investigating the first author for months, after it received an allegation about an unrelated manuscript. As a result, NTU terminated first author Hamidreza Namazi‘s contract as a research fellow earlier this year.

As part of the investigation, NTU began to look at Namazi’s other papers, and discovered several with potential problems — including this one, which NTU believes did not receive proper ethical approvals. So it contacted the journal to raise its concerns.

Namazi, however, told us that he and his colleague obtained approval from another organization, but didn’t make that clear in the paper — so the journal has retracted its retraction notice while it investigates Namazi’s claim.

In place of the original retraction notice, a notice now reads:

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“False” results in retracted paper by senator are inaccurate, not fraudulent, say editors

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Daniel Biss

Last week, we wrote about a somewhat remarkable retraction, of a 15-year-old paper by a current Illinois senator who used to be a mathematician. At the time, we were a bit perplexed by the language of the notice, which the senator — who helpfully took our call — couldn’t answer, since he wasn’t involved in drafting the notice.

We’ve since heard back from the journal that retracted the paper, which explained that their phrase that “most results are false” meant the findings by state senator Daniel Biss were inaccurate — not fraudulent.

Here’s more explanation from a joint statement sent to us by Jan van Mill and Jerry Vaughan, the editors in chief of Topology and its Applications:

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Written by Alison McCook

February 23rd, 2017 at 9:30 am

Journal retracts paper by state senator (and former mathematician)

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Daniel Biss

Here’s something you don’t see every day: A state senator with an academic publication record, in his former career as a mathematician. Even more unusual: A retraction of one of his 15-year-old papers, after the journal realized most of the results were incorrect.

According to the notice, some aspects of the paper by Daniel Biss — now a democratic Illinois State Senator — are also “ambiguous.”

We spoke with Senator Biss, who told us he had been contacted by an editor who told him someone had raised questions about the paper, but he didn’t have much input in the notice:

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Written by Alison McCook

February 13th, 2017 at 9:35 am

Author objects to retraction of paper suggesting fingerprints can predict facial features

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A journal has pulled a paper about predicting people’s faces from their fingerprints due to “significant overlap” with a previous paper by the same authors.   

According to the retraction notice in Intelligent Automation & Soft Computing, the authors didn’t cite or acknowledge the other study in the Turkish Journal of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science.

First author of both papers, Şeref Sağıroğlu, who is based at Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey told Retraction Watch that he doesn’t believe the two papers have significant overlap. Still, the research is related, so when he learned the retracted paper didn’t reference the previous one:

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Korean journal bans author for three years for plagiarism

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journal-of-the-korean-data-and-information-science-societyA  journal in Korea has banned a researcher from submitting papers for three years after an investigation found evidence of plagiarism.

The retraction notice for “Goodness-of-fit tests for a proportional odds model,” which appears in the Journal of the Korean Data and Information Science Society, cites an investigation by an academic ethics committee, but it’s unclear where this review panel was based. 

Since the original retraction notice is in Korean, we’ve got it translated by One Hour Translation. It reads: Read the rest of this entry »

Author of retracted math paper defends against plagiarism charge, threatens to sue journal

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A researcher in Egypt is threatening to sue a mathematics journal if it doesn’t un-retract one of his papers.

The American Journal of Computational Mathematics in May retracted Mostafa M. A. Khater‘s 2015 paper, “The Modified Simple Equation Method and Its Applications in Mathematical Physics and Biology.” The retraction notice is sparse on the details, indicating only that the article was not up to snuff: Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve been dupe’d: Results so nice, journals published them twice

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With so many retraction notices pouring in, from time to time we compile a handful of straight-forward retractions.

Once again, this list focuses on duplications — but unlike other duplications, these authors were not at fault. Rather, these retractions occurred because the publishers mistakenly published the same paper twice — the result of a transfer between publishers, for instance, or accidentally publishing the unedited version of the paper. We’re forced to wonder, as we have before, whether saddling researchers’ CVs with a retraction is really the most fair way to handle these cases.

So without further ado, here’s five cases where the journal mistakenly duplicated a paper, and had to retract one version: Read the rest of this entry »

PLOS ONE flags math paper over algorithm concerns

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PLOS OnePLOS ONE has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a 2014 math paper after readers raised concerns with its algorithm.

According to the first author of the paper Hafsa Athar Jafree from the University of Karachi in Pakistan — none of the authors agreed to the EOC notice. She told us the paper contains a few typos, which may have made it unclear to some readers, but said the authors had provided all of the necessary information to “justify the presented algorithms.”

A PLOS ONE spokesperson told us the journal decided to issue an EOC after consulting the editorial board, which raised significant concerns about the study.

In 2014, the journal issued a correction to the study to fix several equations in the original article. 

Here’s the EOC, posted July 25: Read the rest of this entry »