Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘caught our notice’ Category

Caught Our Notice: Researcher who sued PubPeer commenter draws 19th retraction  

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Title: Increased Ras GTPase activity is regulated by miRNAs that can be attenuated by CDF treatment in pancreatic cancer cells

What Caught Our Attention: We’ve been following cancer scientist Fazlul Sarkar for years, as he (unsuccessfully) sought to expose the identity of a PubPeer commenter who he believes cost him a job offer. In November 2016, the ACLU released a copy of a misconduct investigation report compiled by Wayne State University, which concluded Sarkar ran a laboratory “culture” of “fabrication, falsification and/or plagiarism of data,” and recommended the retraction of 42 papers and correction of 10 papers. He’s now lodged his 19th retraction. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

December 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Using this research tool? You’d better ask first

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Title: Patient Education After CABG: Are We Teaching the Wrong Information?

What Caught Our Attention: We’ve written about the controversy surrounding a commonly used tool to measure whether patients are sticking to their drug regimen, known as the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8). It can cost thousands of dollars — and using it without payment/permission earns researchers a call from a collector, who has used legal threats to compel multiple teams to withdraw their papers (a phenomenon we wrote about in Science). The creator of the tool argues it’s copyrighted, and demanding fees ensures researchers use it properly, which avoids putting patients at risk. We’ve found a notice (paywalled, tsk-tsk) that reveals another group of authors used the tool without permission and, according to the notice, “incorrectly.”

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Caught Our Notice: Oops — 10-fold error reverses heart warning for Ghanaians

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Title: Ghanaians Might Be at Risk of Inadequate Dietary Intake of Potassium

What Caught Our Attention: Potassium-rich diets are thought to be “heart-healthy,” and after examining the average dietary habits of Ghanaian adults, researchers determined the average potassium (K) intake to be well below global standards.  However, the authors’ calculations of potassium intake per capita were too low by factor of 10, resulting in the incorrect conclusion that the average potassium intake was only 856 mg per day, an amount substantially lower than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of 3510 mg/day.  The new calculations show an average K intake of 8,560 mg/day, well over the WHO guideline.  

We asked the corresponding author, David Oscar Yawson, about the source of the error, and he responded:

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Written by Alison Abritis

December 20th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Columbia researcher up to five retractions

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Title: Endotoxaemia during left ventricular assist device insertion: relationship between risk factors and outcome

What Caught Our Attention: Robert J. Frumento first caught our notice in 2013, as a coauthor on a paper retracted with a nonspecific reference to author misconduct.  Three years later, Frumento was clearly identified as having fabricated data and a master’s degree, and added three retractions to his name. Now he’s got a fifth retraction, this one citing missing data and a lack of proof that data blinding was performed correctly.   Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: A retraction that is “useful for investigators”

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Title:  Yeast CAF-1 assembles histone (H3-H4) 2 tetramers prior to DNA deposition

What Caught Our Attention: Informative retraction notices can be infrequent, but rarer still are notices that fulfill an oft-ignored function: To be a source of learning for others in the field. Here, the authors offer a nearly 800-word “detailed description of the issues” with “some observations that may be useful for investigators conducting similar studies.” These authors embraced the retraction process, carefully explaining their findings or the lack thereof, for each figure from their now-retracted paper.     Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: How can a publication be a surprise to a corresponding author?

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Title: Umbelliferone reverses depression-like behavior in chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced mice via RIP140/NF-κB pathway

What Caught Our Attention: One would think that the corresponding author would have to be aware that they are submitting an article for publication — but apparently not, as this retraction demonstrates. The 2016 paper listed two corresponding authors — along with both of their emails and mailing addresses — but according to the retraction notice, one of them did not give consent “in any form” to the publication. Often, we see authors unaware of the use of their name when their email has been faked, but here, it’s possible the journal simply relied on the other corresponding author for all correspondence. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

December 11th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Forgot to make your article open access? It’ll cost you (with a correction)

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Title: Industrial antifoam agents impair ethanol fermentation and induce stress responses in yeast cells

What Caught Our Attention: When authors decide they want to make their articles freely available after they’ve already been published, how should publishers indicate the change, if at all? Recently, Ross Mounce (@rmounce) thought it was odd a Springer journal issued a formal correction notice when the authors wanted to make their paper freely available, and we can’t say we disagree.  As he posted on Twitter:

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Caught Our Notice: What if you find out a paper relied on expired herbal supplement?

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Title: Exploration of inhibitory mechanisms of curcumin in lung cancer metastasis using a miRNA- transcription factor-target gene network

What Caught Our Attention: The researchers were studying how curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, can inhibit lung cancer metastases. But upon learning that the primary material had been expired at the time of testing (and realizing they were unable to repeat their experiments), the researchers pulled their paper. Expiration dates do have safety factors built in, but attention to such details is imperative in research.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

December 4th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Caught Our Notice: 1,376 words of overlap in paper by food researcher Brian Wansink

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TitleChange Their Choice! Changing Behavior Using the CAN Approach and Activism Research

What Caught Our Attention: Food researcher Brian Wansink has had a rough time lately. After researchers began scrutinizing his work, he has racked up five retractions and multiple corrections. (We’re counting one retracted paper twice, as Wansink first retracted and replaced it with a new version, then retracted the replacement.)

These notices haven’t gone unnoticed, either by us or other media outlets — BuzzFeed reported on his most recent retraction this weekend, a paper a critic discussed with us, as well. Yesterday, BuzzFeed also reported that Cornell is investigating. (It wouldn’t be the first time — in April, Cornell announced that it had found evidence of mistakes, not misconduct, in Wansink’s papers.)  Below, we present his 13th correction, for duplicated text — 1,376 words of duplicated text, to be exact.

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Written by Alison Abritis

November 29th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Caught Our Notice: To know if someone’s been vaccinated, just asking isn’t enough

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Title: Hepatitis B Virus Infection in Preconception Period Among Women of Reproductive Age in Rural China – A Nationwide Study

What Caught Our Attention: When researchers set out to study hepatitis B among women in rural China, and they wanted to know if the women had been vaccinated against the virus, they simply asked them. While that can sometimes be useful, apparently it was a mistake in this case, as the reliance on patient memory injected too much doubt into these findings.  Read the rest of this entry »