Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Authors pull Science paper on molecular wires for “inappropriate data handling”

without comments

pic.mag.current-issueThis week’s issue of Science includes a retraction of a highly cited paper about manipulating the current in a string of molecules with a magnet, after an investigation by the co-authors revealed “inappropriate data handling” by the first author.

According to the note, the co-authors’ suspicions arose when they tried to follow-up on the data. Following a “thorough investigation,” they concluded that first author Rabindra N. Mahato had handled the data in such a way that they could no longer trust the conclusions. In the end, Mahato agreed to the retraction.

Here’s more from the note: Read the rest of this entry »

So you want to be a whistleblower? Part III

without comments

John Thomas

John Thomas

This is the third and final article in a series by John R. Thomas, Jr., a lawyer at Gentry Locke who represents whistleblowers in a variety of False Claims Act cases.  His first article discussed the background of the False Claims Act (“FCA”) and how it might apply to scientific misconduct, and his second article provided advice on how to know if you have a viable FCA case. In this installment, he writes about the procedure for bringing an FCA case and how the damages and whistleblower’s share are calculated.

Suppose you are a potential whistleblower. You believe that your PI is manipulating data in publications. You suspect that a fellow lab technician is tampering with experiments. You are a PI who knows that your colleague is “double dipping” on Federal grants. What should you do? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 8th, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Dutch investigation of researcher violated rules of “fair play”: Ombudsman

with 3 comments

Pankaj Dhonukshe

Pankaj Dhonukshe

The National Ombudsman of The Netherlands has criticized some aspects of an investigation by Utrecht University that found a researcher had committed “a violation of academic integrity.”

Specifically, the Ombudsman found the investigation — which we covered last year — did not adequately involve the affected researcher, Pankaj Dhonukshe, and therefore violated rules of “fair play.” Dhonukshe expressed relief in a statement he emailed to us about the ruling: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 6th, 2015 at 9:30 am

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

without comments


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:

Read the rest of this entry »

Danish neuroscientist sentenced by court for lying about faked experiments

with 8 comments

court caseIn a rare development, neuroscientist Milena Penkowa has been sentenced by a Danish court for faking data.

The ruling, from the Copenhagen City Court, resulted from Penkowa’s publication of her 2003 thesis describing experiments that she never carried out. The court “placed weight” on the fact that she didn’t just commit fraud, but “systematically supplied false information” to avoid being caught, according to the court’s notice.

The sentence is nine months of “conditional imprisonment,” according to our translation; The University Posta newspaper affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, calls it a “nine month suspended sentence with a two years probation.”

Here’s the full summary of the new ruling, from the Copenhagen City Court (translated from Danish by One Hour Translation):

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

October 1st, 2015 at 9:10 am

Investigation finds “careless data workup” in alcoholism drug paper

without comments


An investigation at Karolinska Institute has led to the retraction of a paper about drug treatments for alcoholics, after concluding the article contains a “very careless data workup.”

The paper, “Memantine enhances the inhibitory effects of naltrexone on ethanol consumption,” found that the drug memantine (normally used to treat Alzheimer’s) enhances the effects of naltrexone in rats, which blocks the high of alcohol.  It was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology and has been cited 10 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

However, its conclusion is now “unreliable,” according to the retraction note:

Read the rest of this entry »

German dep’t head reprimanded for not catching mistakes of co-author Lichtenthaler

with 5 comments

Holger Ernst

Holger Ernst

The head of a department at WHU — Otto Beisheim School of Management has been charged with “severe scientific misconduct” for not spotting many of the data irregularities of his co-author Ulrich Lichtenthaler, which have ultimately led to 16 retractions.

According to a news release describing a WHU investigation (which we had translated using One Hour Translation), Holger Ernst did not neglect his supervisory duties, but, as a co-author on many of the retracted papers, he should have been more aware of the data issues in Lichtenthaler’s work: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 29th, 2015 at 9:30 am

4th ORI-flagged paper by Oregon student is retracted

with 2 comments

home_cover (2)The last of four papers containing data falsified by University of Oregon neuroscience student David Anderson has been retracted.

When the Office of Research Integrity report flagging the papers came out in July, Anderson told us he “made an error in judgment,” and took “full responsibility” for the misconduct.

The newly retracted paper, “A common discrete resource for visual working memory and visual search,” published in Psychological Science, has been cited 28 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. According to the abstract, it demonstrates a possible link between working memory and the ability to “rapidly identify targets hidden among distractors.”

But according to the retraction note, Anderson produced “results that conformed to predictions” by “removing outlier values and replacing outliers with mean values”  in some of the data.

Here’s the retraction note in full:

Read the rest of this entry »

Investigation ups nursing researcher’s retraction count to 3

with one comment

Journal of Clinical NursingThe Journal of Clinical Nursing is retracting a paper “due to major overlap with a previously published article” from the same journal, following an investigation by the National University of Singapore.

By our count, this is the third retraction for first author, Moon-fai Chan, all for “overlap” with other papers.

As we reported in May, the Journal of Advanced Nursing retracted a paper co-authored by Chan for “major overlap” with a paper in JCN, that too the result of the investigation. We’ve also learned that the journal Nursing & Health Sciences issued a similar notice last year for another pair of overlapped papers.

Chan said in a statement to Retraction Watch Read the rest of this entry »

Science Signaling corrects data fudged by former UCSF student

without comments

afbb251f8bc8f71e26b313c77669d48fA paper containing data fudged by former University of California San Francisco grad student Peter Littlefield has been corrected. We knew that this was coming — last month, the Office of Research Integrity issued a report that Littlefield had admitted to misconduct, and agreed to a retraction or correction of the two affected papers.

Published in Science Signaling, “Structural analysis of the /HER3 heterodimer reveals the molecular basis for activating HER3 mutations” examined the structural details of a protein associated with cancer. It has been cited two times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

According to the correction note, the concentration of a protein presented in one figure was “miscalculated;” in another figure, the error bars were “calculated incorrectly.”

A statement from the UCSF affirmed that principle investigator Natalie Jura has “not been implicated in any research misconduct finding,” and explains that Read the rest of this entry »