Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Investigation finds data issues polluted air quality paper

with 2 comments

1-s2.0-S0013935113X0009X-cov150hAn investigation at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia has found that a paper on air pollution and human health contains a host of issues with the data and its analysis. The paper has been retracted with a very detailed note from Environmental Research.

The issues with the paper include an “incorrect analysis of the data,” and its failure to properly cite multiple papers and one researcher’s contributions. Ultimately, according to the retraction note, the investigation found that the “conclusions of the paper are flawed.”

“Submicrometer particles and their effects on the association between air temperature and mortality in Brisbane, Australia” has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retraction note is very, very detailed. It outlines the problems with the paper:

Read the rest of this entry »

JAMA retracts second paper by heart researcher

without comments

Screen-Shot-2015-10-27-at-10.53.53-AMA heart researcher who fabricated trial participants has notched a second JAMA retraction. The retraction comes at the request of her co-authors, after an investigation by her former employer wasn’t able to confirm that this study was valid.

In September, we learned that Anna Ahimastos, who used to work at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, had “fabricated [records] for trial participants that did not exist” in a JAMA trial for a blood pressure drug, according to principal investigator Bronwyn Kingwell.  That trial was retracted, along with a sub analysis.

An investigation by the institute found problems or sufficient doubt in several more publications. This second JAMA retraction is number 5 for Ahimastos, of 8 total expected.

The paper, “Effect of perindopril on large artery stiffness and aortic root diameter in patients with Marfan syndrome: a randomized controlled trial” Read the rest of this entry »

Stem cell researcher who sued Harvard, Brigham & Women’s is leaving his post

without comments


Piero Anversa

A stem cell researcher who sued his employers, Harvard and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, is headed to Switzerland.

Piero Anversa‘s departure follows the dismissal of his suit last summer. Anversa filed the suit with colleague Annarosa Leri, claiming that an investigation into their work damaged their reputations:

they lost a multimillion-dollar offer to purchase their company, Autologous/Progenital; and both Plaintiffs have had possible employment offers at several institutions postponed.

Anversa’s lawyer, Tracey Miner, confirmed that he was moving:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

November 20th, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Irish university strips student of PhD following investigation

with 7 comments

maynoothMaynooth University has revoked a former student’s PhD following an investigation into the circumstances that led to two previous retractions in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

During the investigation, Aisha Qasim Butt admitted to some misconduct in the two papers and the research that made up her PhD, according to a university statement (which you can read in full here): Read the rest of this entry »

Mol bio paper pulled by PLOS following investigation into figures

with 6 comments

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.58.47 AMPLOS Biology has retracted a paper about the molecular details of β-catenin expression following an investigation by the first author’s institution in Italy.

The investigation, by the Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, found that there were multiple “figure anomalies.” According to the note:

An explanation of inadvertent error was given for some of the issues identified, while for two issues, a satisfactory explanation could not be provided.

First author Roberto Gherzi says none of his co-authors helped prepare the figures. The authors maintain that the conclusions are unaffected, but that assurance wasn’t enough for the journal. Here’s more from the lengthy retraction note, which provides some backstory on the “serious concerns” regarding the data:

Read the rest of this entry »

Psychologist Jens Forster settles case by agreeing to 2 retractions

with 5 comments


Jens Förster

Following questions about the veracity of multiple papers by his former employer, high-profile social psychologist Jens Förster has agreed to retract two papers as part of a deal with the German Society for Psychology (DGPs).

Last year, Förster had a paper retracted at the request of his former employer, the University of Amsterdam (UvA). In May, an investigation commissioned by UvA found that many of his experiments looked “too good to be true,” and eight papers showed strong signs of “low veracity.”

Just two of those papers are acknowledged in the settlement of a case by the DGPs against Förster, who currently works at Ruhr University Bochum. Here’s a translation of a notice from the DGPs from One Hour Translation:

Read the rest of this entry »

Heart researcher who faked patient data gets third retraction

without comments

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 6.38.09 PMA heart researcher has notched her third retraction, a small 2006 trial in Annals of Internal Medicine which seemed to show that a blood pressure drug could help people with artery disease walk further with less pain.

Earlier this year, Anna Ahimastos, formerly a researcher at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, lost a larger clinical trial in JAMA and a subanalysis in Circulation Research after it was discovered she’d fabricated patient records. As principle investigator Bronwyn Kingwell told us in September:

Specifically, records were fabricated for trial participants that did not exist.

Now, following an investigation by the institute, her co-authors are proactively retracting papers, with more to come. The Annals of Internal Medicine paper, “Ramipril Markedly Improves Walking Ability in Patients With Peripheral Arterial Disease,” is being pulled due to an “inability to adequately validate primary data sources.” According to the note, Ahimastos “maintains the integrity of the data and validity of reported results:”

Read the rest of this entry »

Child psych studies halted for “unanticipated event,” sparking misconduct investigation

with 3 comments


Mani Pavuluri

We’ve just learned what sparked a University of Illinois at Chicago investigation that recently concluded a child psychiatrist had committed misconduct: An “unanticipated event during a study,” which halted three studies and resulted in a letter sent out to 350 research subjects.

Earlier this week, we reported that an investigation at the University of Illinois at Chicago found “a preponderance of evidence” that child psychiatrist Mani Pavuluri had committed misconduct. The university told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about the investigation in 2013. The findings of the investigation led the university to request the retractions of three papers, one of which has been pulled so far, for not properly disclosing how much medication children had received outside the study.

Today, we found out what prompted the university to launch that investigation, courtesy of a statement from a spokesperson: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

November 6th, 2015 at 2:47 pm

University revokes PhD of first author on retracted STAP stem cell papers

with 4 comments

800px-Waseda_University_Logo.svgWaseda University has revoked the doctorate degree of the first author on the now-retracted Nature papers about a technique to create stem cells.

The technique — which claimed to provide a new way to nudge young cells from mice into pluripotency — was initially described in two 2014 Nature papers, both first-authored by Haruko Obokata. However, the papers were soon mired in controversy, corrected, then retracted later that year due to “several critical errors,” some of which were categorized by a RIKEN investigation as misconduct.

Shortly after Nature retracted the two papers, Waseda revoked Obokata’s doctorate degree — on a probationary basis, according to the university: Read the rest of this entry »

University finds “preponderance of evidence” of misconduct by child psychiatrist

with 2 comments

JPN39_2_CoverAn investigation at the University of Illinois at Chicago has found “a preponderance of evidence” that a psychiatrist who has received millions of dollars in federal funding has committed misconduct.

One paper co-authored by Mani Pavuluri, the director of the Pediatric Mood Disorders Program, has been officially retracted so far, from the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. UIC has requested that two others be retracted as well. None of the child participants in the three papers received medication as part of the research, but the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience paper was pulled after the investigation found that Pavuluri had misrepresented how much medication some children had taken outside of the study.

On Tuesday, after we’d learned of the first retraction, Pavuluri told Retraction Watch that she didn’t “want mountains made out of molehills,” but admitted to “a bit of an [Institutional Review Board] infraction.”

The retraction note from the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience lays the blame squarely on Pavuluri’s shoulders:

Read the rest of this entry »