Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Scientist faces off with PubPeer commenters in new hearing next week

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Fazlul Sarkar

Fazlul Sarkar

On Tuesday, a Detroit courtroom will hear arguments in a case against PubPeer commenters, in which a scientist alleges their criticisms of his work cost him a new job at the University of Mississippi.

This isn’t the first time both sides have met in court: Fazlul Sarkar first gained attention in 2014 when he sued anonymous commenters of PubPeer for defamation; in 2015, a judge ruled that all but one of the commenters should be allowed to remain anonymous. PubPeer has filed an appeal, earning the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as Google and Twitter.

Meanwhile, Sarkar has earned 18 retractions, many citing an institutional investigation at Wayne State University.

We spoke with attorney Alex Abdo at the ACLU, who is representing the PubPeer commenters in this case, about what to expect at next week’s hearing.

Retraction Watch: What will happen at this hearing? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 29th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Ecology journal flags carnivore paper under investigation

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journal-of-applied-ecologyAn ecology journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a recently published study, citing an institutional investigation about the data and conclusions.

According to the notice — issued by the Journal of Applied Ecology — the author’s institution in South Africa has received a report from an independent examiner. The editors are reviewing the paper — about reducing the impact of lethal carnivores such as black-backed jackals — “in light of this information.”

An official from the journal told us the investigation has to do with “relevant background information” that was not included in the study, published online in December.

Here’s the EOC, published earlier this month: Read the rest of this entry »

1st retraction for researcher who lost whistleblower lawsuit

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microvascular-research

A researcher who was dismissed from Wayne State University — then lost a whistleblower lawsuit against it — has logged his first retraction.

In 2012, after Christian Kreipke was dismissed from Wayne State, he filed a lawsuit, alleging that the institution had defrauded the U.S. government of $169 million in research funding. A judge dismissed the case in 2014, noting Kreipke cited “no specific facts,” and as a public university, Wayne State had immunity as an “arm of the state.”

The university’s president has said Kreipke was fired due to misconduct — not his whistleblowing, according to Courthouse News Service

Now, a retraction has appeared for Kreipke in Microvascular Research, citing discrepancies between the original data and what was reported in the paper. 

Here’s the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Cell Press won’t retract papers despite one author confessing to fraud

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Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 18.54.35Cell Press journals will not be retracting two papers that were flagged with expressions of concern (EOCs) in April after one author claimed to have manipulated some experiments.

In a strange turn of events, as we previously reported, the study’s corresponding author refuted the claims of the author who confessed to fraud, citing concerns about his “motives and credibility.” Since then, two independent labs repeated the authors’ experiments, and “largely confirm” the central conclusions of a Cell paper, but were inconclusive regarding a paper in Molecular Cell. Regardless, in both cases, the journals have decided to take no further action. 

Both expressions of concern (and their associated editorial notes) will remain online, as part of the “permanent record,” a Cell Press spokesperson told us.

The spokesperson added more about the investigation process: Read the rest of this entry »

Say what? Journal charges fee to lodge allegations against papers

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erintHere’s something we haven’t seen before: A journal is asking tipsters to pay a fee to investigate a paper.

After receiving a tip of our own about this new requirement, we reached out to Educational Research International, and received this response: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 27th, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Data were “fraudulently obtained” in epilepsy paper, probe finds

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brain-research-bulletinA brain research journal has retracted a 2016 study about epilepsy after an institutional investigation determined that some of the data were taken from another published paper.

The retraction notice for the study — which appeared in Brain Research Bulletin — cites an investigation by the scientific integrity committee at Tongji University in Shanghai, China, which concluded the authors had engaged in “unethical publishing behavior.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Clc-2 knockout attenuated experimental temporal lobe epilepsy in mice by tonic inhibition mediated by GABAA receptors:” Read the rest of this entry »

Finnish institute finds no evidence to support misconduct in diabetes paper

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VTT Research CentreAn investigation at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has found no evidence of misconduct by one of its former researchers in a diabetes paper.

We previously reported on the case after the VTT was accused of cutting corners in a previous investigation into Matej Orešič (now based at the Steno Diabetes Center in Gentofte, Denmark)In 2014, the VTT concluded that there was no evidence of falsification or data tampering on the part of Orešič in the 2008 paper published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM). The proceedings came into the public domain through a news article published in the Finnish media outlet Helsingin Sanomat in February 2016, which prompted the VTT to reopen the case.

Now, the same people who questioned the previous investigation told us they have doubts about the latest conclusions, noting the probe should not have focused on a single paper, but rather on alleged problems within the plasma and serum metabolomics group, previously led by Orešič.

Orešič sent us this report, which the VTT released on June 15, outlining their decision. The VTT confirmed the legitimacy of the report, which says: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

September 22nd, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Researcher in Ireland loses two 13-year old studies

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journal-of-biological-chemistryThe Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) has retracted two 2003 studies after concluding that figures in the papers had been duplicated, and portions of some figures in one paper “did not accurately represent the results of the experimental conditions.”

The two newly retracted papers have the same last author — Therese Kinsella, a biochemist at the University College Dublin (UCD), who told us the data have been upheld by subsequent research, but that she supports the retractions, which are now part of a UCD investigation.

The retractions will bring up some familiar names: The first author on one of the papers is Sinéad Miggin from Maynooth University in the Republic of Ireland; in 2014, Miggin logged two retractions in the JBC, which triggered an investigation into co-author Aisha Qasim ButtLast year, Maynooth University revoked Butt’s PhD after she admitted to “falsification and misrepresentation” of data in both studies as well as her PhD thesis. At the time, Miggin and two other researchers were fully exonerated by Maynooth University from “any wrongdoing.”

Butt, however, is not an author of either of the newly retracted papers. Although Butt’s LinkedIn page still lists her as a postdoctoral researcher at UCD, a spokesperson from the institution told us she is no longer based there.

We don’t often see such old papers retracted. Kaoru Sakabe, Manager of Publishing Issues at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which publishes JBC, told us how this decision came about: Read the rest of this entry »

Inquiry finds no evidence of misconduct in high-profile Science paper flagged by allegations

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scienceAn expert group at Uppsala University has recommended not proceeding with a full investigation into allegations of misconduct in a high-profile Science paper showing how human pollution may be harming fish.

The June paper — which caught the media’s attention for suggesting fish larvae are eating small particles of plastic rather than their natural prey — became the focus of scrutiny soon after it was published when a group of researchers raised allegations of misconduct. Earlier this year, Science told us it was considering issuing an Expression of Concern (EOC) for the paper, and Uppsala said it was conducting an inquiry, the first step in determining whether to launch a formal investigation.

The expert group who conducted the preliminary investigation has ultimately recommended against an investigation of the paper, according to an Uppsala spokesperson: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 20th, 2016 at 2:15 pm

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 »