Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Caught Our Notice: Another retraction for researcher paid $100k to leave uni

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Via Wikimedia

When Retraction Watch began in 2010, our co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus quickly realized they couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of retractions that appeared each year.  And the problem has only gotten worse — although we’ve added staff, the number of retractions issued each year has increased dramatically. According to our growing database, just shy of 1,000 retractions were issued last year (and that doesn’t include expressions of concern and errata). So to get new notices in front of readers more quickly, we’ve started a new feature called “Caught our Notice,” where we highlight a recent notice that stood out from the others. If you have any information about what happened, feel free to contact us at retractionwatchteam@gmail.com.

Title:  Diabetes and Overexpression of proNGF Cause Retinal Neurodegeneration via Activation of RhoA Pathway  and  Diabetes-Induced Superoxide Anion and Breakdown of the Blood-Retinal Barrier: Role of the VEGF/uPAR Pathway 

What caught our attention:

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Researcher apologizes for ignoring early warnings about earthquake data

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In 2016, three researchers published data they had collected on a series of devastating earthquakes that hit Japan earlier that year.

But, in late September 2017, one of the authors—Hiroyuki Goto—revealed that the Kumamoto Earthquake data contained “wide reaching errors”—and an outside expert had warned him the data might be problematic nine months earlier.  

Goto, an associate professor in the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University, issued two statements in which he acknowledged the errors, but did not indicate how they occurred. According to The Japan Times, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is investigating whether the data “was falsified or fabricated due to inconsistencies with other readings taken nearby.” A report in another Japanese paper, The Mainichi, notes that Osaka University—where one of the authors, Yoshiya Hata, works—is looking into the matter as well.

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Written by Victoria Stern

October 18th, 2017 at 8:52 am

Swedish prosecutor won’t pursue criminal case against Macchiarini

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Paolo Macchiarini

A Swedish prosecutor has announced she won’t continue investigating a former star surgeon who has since fallen from grace.

Paolo Macchiarini made a name for himself by transplanting synthetic tracheas. After multiple patients died, however, allegations against the researcher have continued to swirl. He was dismissed from the Karolinska Institutet last year, after it reopened its misconduct investigation. The Swedish prosecutor was investigating Macchiarini’s role in the deaths of three out of four patients he operated on five times between 2011-2013.

Although the prosecution concluded that most of the operations proceeded “negligently,” it could not conclude Macchiarini was criminally responsible.

According to the public prosecutor Jennie Nordin:

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Written by Alison McCook

October 12th, 2017 at 10:55 am

Early data on potential anti-cancer compound now in human trials was falsified, company admits

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A pharmaceutical company has admitted that one of its former researchers falsified early data on a compound that’s designed to fight cancer, now in human trials.

The data, published as an abstract in August 2015 in the journal Cancer Research, reported a therapeutic benefit of acalabrutinib in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. The compound, developed by the company Acerta Pharma, has also been the subject of additional trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Blood in 2015. The 2015 NEJM study, which had several authors in common with the Cancer Research abstract, showed the agent had “promising safety and efficacy profiles in patients” with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

But an investigation into the data underlying the 2015 abstract shows some were falsified, prompting the journal to retract the abstract.

Ed Tucker, senior vice president of Medical Safety, Quality and Compliance at Acerta Pharma, told us that in August 2016 the company identified an issue with the data in the Cancer Research abstract and started an investigation:

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Journal adds concern notice to paper by psychologist Jens Förster

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A social psychology journal has added an expression of concern to a paper by prominent social psychologist Jens Förster, whose work has been subject to much scrutiny.

This is the latest in a long-running saga involving Förster. The 2012 paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology had been flagged by a 2015 report describing an investigation into Förster’s work, which had concluded the paper likely contained unreliable data. Several other papers that received similar designations in that report have either been retracted or received expressions of concern (EoC).

The (paywalled) notice provides a lengthy explanation for why the journal chose to add an EoC, rather than retract the paper, as the University of Amsterdam had recommended. Here is an excerpt:

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“No wrongdoing had occurred,” says Karolinska, following investigation of cancer research

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A journal has removed an expression of concern for a 2011 paper after Karolinska Institutet (KI) “concluded no wrongdoing had occurred.” 

In June, Journal of Cell Science (JCS) issued the expression of concern, after a reader contacted the editors with questions about the data in one of the figures. JCS investigated but could not resolve the issue, and in March 2017 turned the case over to KI where the authors are based.

The 2011 paper had already received a correction in 2016, citing inadvertent figure duplication.

In late August, KI concluded its investigation into the 2011 paper by last author Boris Zhivotovsky; JCS has now updated the expression of concern with a publisher’s note: Read the rest of this entry »

Author blamed for misconduct in Cell paper declines to sign retraction notice  

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Researchers have retracted a 2015 paper in Cell after an investigation revealed the first author committed misconduct.

According to the retraction notice, which first author Ozgur Tataroglu declined to sign, the researchers realized there was an issue with the 2015 paper when they were unable to replicate the findings. Corresponding author Patrick Emery and his team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester reviewed the data and found “clear evidence” that Tataroglu  — who had been a postdoc in Emery’s lab — “had repeatedly misrepresented and altered primary data,” the notice states.

UMass subsequently conducted an investigation in which it “concluded that the first author committed scientific misconduct.”  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Calcium and SOL Protease Mediate Temperature Resetting of Circadian Clocks:” Read the rest of this entry »

UCSF-VA letters to journals offer insight into misconduct investigations

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Earlier this month, we reported the retraction of several papers published by researchers with appointments at both the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the San Francisco Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center, led by a prominent urologist. Recently, we obtained the letters sent to the journals that retracted the papers, shedding some additional light on the case.

The most notable insight: The institutions couldn’t place blame for the misconduct that led to the three retractions on any one individual.

Through a public records request, Retraction Watch has obtained the letter sent to the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) — which publishes Cancer Research and Clinical Cancer Research — as well as a similar one sent to the editor of the International Journal of Cancer. UCSF and the VA co-wrote both letters and sent them to request editorial action on articles that the research institutions had found to contain “clear evidence” of research misconduct.

Because the retraction notices for the papers published by Cancer Research and Clinical Cancer Research quoted the AACR letter heavily, there isn’t a lot more to reveal. But the letter does say that the committee “could not determine who was responsible” for the misconduct, even though the co-authors said it was Masahiro Sasaki, first author on both papers.

According to the letter, Sasaki:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

September 25th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Two more retractions for former US prof who altered dozens of images

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Two journals have retracted papers by a biologist who was recently found guilty of misconduct by his former employer, the University of Colorado Denver, bringing the total to five.

The investigation report by UC Denver, which we obtained earlier this year via a public records request, had recommended one of the two newest retractions, which appears in the journal Hepatology. The other retraction, in the Journal of Immunology, was not flagged by the report — which found, among other conclusions, that Almut Grenz had altered multiple values in research that had already been submitted for peer review.

Here’s the notice for the Journal of Immunology paper:

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Bone researcher is up to 17 retractions

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A bone researcher has lost three more papers for scientific misconduct.

The new retractions bring Yoshihiro Sato’s total to 17 and put him on our Leaderboard.

According to the retraction notices, Sato asked the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry to retract three of his papers “due to scientific misconduct.” In the letter, Sato—who is corresponding author on all three papers—explained he included co-authors without their consent and that none of the other authors listed worked on the study or article.

In May, the editors issued expressions of concern while they investigated (1, 2, 3), and last month, the journal retracted the three articles.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Amelioration of osteopenia and hypovitaminosis D by 1alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3 in elderly patients with Parkinson’s disease:” Read the rest of this entry »