Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Cell Press dismisses fraud allegations in high-profile genetics papers

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Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 18.54.35Cell Press has dismissed accusations of image manipulation in two well-cited papers. 

In June 2015, we reported that the publisher was investigating anonymous allegations of more than a dozen instances of manipulation of images in the papers published in Cell and Molecular Cell in 1999 and 2001, respectively. 

After assessing the original high-resolution versions of images from the laboratory notebook of Maria Pia Cosma, the first author of both papers, the journals have not found enough evidence to determine that fraud had occurred. 

Here’s the editorial note, issued last week for both papers (and also reported by Leonid Schneider): Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 8th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Biologist with five-year funding ban earns 7th and 8th retractions

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Biology OpenA biologist in New Jersey has retracted two more papers, bringing his total to eight retractions, following a finding by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

The analysis of the work of John Pastorino, previously a cell biologist at Rowan University, in Glassboro, concluded that he had doctored more than 40 images, resulting in a five-year funding ban.

The report flagged eight published papers (and an unpublished one), six of which had already received expressions of concern (EOCs). Nataly Shulga was a co-author on all eight papers. With these two new retractions in Biology Open and Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Bioenergetics, all of the flagged papers have now been retracted.

Here’s the retraction notice for the Biology Open paper, issued July 15:

Read the rest of this entry »

Why did a chemistry journal fix fraud with a correction instead of a retraction?

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Chemical Communciations

Are some cases of research fraud fixable with a correction notice?

A chemistry journal thought so in 2014, when it issued a correction notice for a 2012 paper after the first author admitted to manipulating an image. After an investigation, the publisher agreed the manipulation was a “clear breach” of its ethical guidelines, but decided not to retract the paper since the overall conclusions remain valid.

The last author told us the first author had to repeat the experiments under supervision, and received a “serious warning.”

It’s an older notice, but one we thought interesting enough to cover now. Once you’ve read through the journal’s reasoning, tell us if you agree with the decision to correct (rather than retract) the paper in a poll at the bottom of this post.

Here’s the correction for “A novel route for preparing highly proton conductive membrane materials with metal-organic frameworks,” issued by Chemical Communications:

Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher denied PhD after “recklessly” committing misconduct

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Molecular PharmacologyA doctoral student at the University of Houston in Texas will not receive his PhD, following an institutional investigation into his work.

Mousa Abkhezr, the researcher in question, is no longer enrolled at the University of Houston, his former supervisor told us.

In June, the probe into papers co-authored by Abkhezr resulted in the retraction of a study in the American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology (AJP). Now, his ex-supervisor, Stuart Dryer, has pulled two more papers co-authored by the pair in Molecular Pharmacology.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Angiotensin II and Canonical Transient Receptor Potential-6 Activation Stimulate Release of a Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3–Activating Factor from Mouse Podocytes:” Read the rest of this entry »

Can universities claim immunity in misconduct lawsuits? What a recent ruling suggests

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Callan Stein

Callan Stein

Last week, George Washington University (GWU), a private institution in Washington DC, settled a case with scientist Rakesh Kumar, who had claimed breach of contract and emotional distress following a misconduct investigation against him. But earlier this year, a judge dismissed another one of the scientist’s claims, after GWU argued it had the same “official immunity” the government enjoyed, since it also conducts research misconduct investigations. Does the ruling set a precedent? We spoke to Callan Stein, a lawyer who represents U.S. researchers in misconduct cases, who has discussed the implications on his law firm’s site.

Retraction Watch: Can you explain more about this “official immunity” the government has regarding research misconduct, and why the judge thought this applied to GWU, as well? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

August 3rd, 2016 at 2:00 pm

A researcher sued critics of his work. Now he has 13 retractions.

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Fazlul Sarkar

Fazlul Sarkar

A cancer researcher who sued PubPeer commenters for criticizing his work has lost six more papers, bringing his total to 13 retractions. 

Four of the new retraction notices issued by the journal Cancer cite an investigation at Wayne State University in Michigan into the work of Fazlul Sarkar and some of his colleagues. All the new notices, including the other two in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, are for image-related issues.

Retraction Watch readers will recognize the name Fazlul Sarkar, who took PubPeer to court to unmask the anonymous critics whose comments cost him a job at the University of Mississippi. According to this document, Sarkar retired from Wayne State this year.  

Here’s the first of the four Cancer retraction notices, all of which were issued on July 29: Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher whose PhD was revoked is no longer at Harvard lab

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mend.2016.30.issue-8.coverA research fellow at Harvard Medical School whose PhD was revoked last month is no longer working in his former lab, Retraction Watch has learned. 

An archived version of the lab site for Alfred Goldberg from December, 2015, lists Sudarsanareddy Lokireddy as a postdoctoral fellow; however, Goldberg’s current lab site doesn’t include Lokireddy as a lab member.

We contacted Goldberg’s lab, and he was unavailable for comment. We were told all of his lab members are on the current website.

Lokireddy has also logged his sixth retraction. But this case isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

Read the rest of this entry »

High-profile Science paper on fish and plastics may earn notice of concern

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science mag coverScience is considering adding an expression of concern (EOC) to a June paper that caught the media’s attention for showing how human pollution may be harming fish, following allegations of research misconduct.

A group of researchers allege the paper — which suggested fish larvae are eating small particles of plastic rather than their natural prey — contains missing data and used a problematic methodology. After the researchers submitted a formal letter (available here), Uppsala University in Sweden is now conducting an inquiry, the first step in determining whether to launch a formal investigation.

A spokesperson from Science told Retraction Watch that once the journal independently verifies that an investigation is underway, it will issue an EOC for the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

PhD student expelled for submitting paper without co-authors’ consent

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PLOS OneA PhD student has been expelled from a university in China after publishing a paper in PLOS ONE without the permission of her co-authors, and using an external company to complete some of the work. 

PLOS ONE has now retracted the paper, noting that they were tipped off to the problems by a reader who raised concerns about some of the figures. The notice states that the study’s first author, Zhenni Zhang, takes full responsibility. 

The last author of the paper Zongfang Li from the Xi’an Jiaotong University in China — told us Zhang was his PhD student who was close to completing her PhD, but has now been expelled.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on July 25: Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroscientist in Serbia earns 8th retraction amid investigation

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RadenovicA neurobiologist has notched her eight retraction in the midst of an ongoing investigation into her work by her institution, the University of Belgrade in Serbia.

As we reported previously, a mass clean-up by the Archives of Biological Sciences (ABS), the official journal of the Serbian Biological Society resulted in six retractions of papers co-authored by Lidija Radenović. (Radenović served as vice president of the Serbian Biological Society until July 2014.)

In April, we reported that Radenović was about to notch her seventh retraction in Acta Neurologica Scandinavica; that paper has now been pulled, and ABS has retracted another one of her papers.

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