Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

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

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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:

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Journal reviewing papers by researcher who sexually assaulted disabled author

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Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.10.00 PMA disability journal is “paying significant attention” to papers authored by Anna Stubblefield, a former Rutgers researcher recently convicted of sexually assaulting a disabled man who participated in her research.

Stubblefield was convicted of sexually assaulting “DJ,” a man in his thirties with cerebral palsy who was “declared by the state to have the mental capacity of a toddler,” according to a lengthy piece in the New York Times. Stubblefield and DJ published papers in Disability Studies Quarterly; in one, Stubblefield describes a controversial technique which she claimed helped DJ communicate. But when she eventually used the technique to say DJ was in love with her, his family took her to court, and she was convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

Here is the note from Disability Studies Quarterly, which was published this morningRead the rest of this entry »

After court verdict, BMJ retracts 26-year-old paper

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downloadToday, The BMJ retracted a 1989 paper about the role of breastfeeding and formula in infant eczema — 20 years after the data were called into question by a university report.

However, the report was kept secret — due, by some accounts, to alleged threats of a lawsuit. That is, until this year, when author Ranjit Kumar Chandra — who once dubbed himself the “father of nutritional immunology” — lost a $132 million libel case. That case, against the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) for airing a three-part documentary series on allegations of fraud against Chandra, pushed the report by his former employer Memorial University of Newfoundland into the public domain.

At 26 years, the BMJ retraction is a runner up for the longest amount of time a journal has taken to retract a paper. (We know of another retraction that was 27 years in the making, and a scientist who requested the retraction of some passages of a 1955 article in 2007, after the article became fodder for creationists.)

Here’s the first part of the retraction note:

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Written by Shannon Palus

October 28th, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Taste researcher falsified data in two papers: ORI

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ori-logoA federal report has found that a former University of Maryland postdoc “falsified and/or fabricated” data in two papers about taste receptors.

The Office of Research Integrity report found that Maartje C.P. Geraedts manipulated bar graphs in the papers to “produce the desired result.” Both have been retracted. Geraedts left academia in 2014, and is now a science writer.

We reported on one retraction in July, “Gustatory stimuli representing different perceptual qualities elicit distinct patterns of neuropeptide secretion from taste buds,” published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The other, “Transformation of postingestive glucose responses after deletion of sweet taste receptor subunits or gastric bypass surgery,” published in 2012 in the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism, was retracted in September. Here’s the note, which cites the university’s investigation: Read the rest of this entry »

Author with three retractions objects to mega-correction following investigation

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DevelopmentWe’ve uncovered a “mega-correction for a 2010 paper in Development, posted as the result of an investigation into the first author which has already led to three retractions.

Last year, the Utrecht University investigation into Pankaj Dhonukshe found “manipulation in some form” in four papers, and concluded that he committed a “violation of academic integrity.” The investigation also led to the retraction of a 2012 Cell paper and two papers in Nature that were co-authored by Dhonukshe. 

Development began investigating the corrected paper after being contacted by one of the authors and alerted to the results of the university’s investigation. The notice includes a statement from Dhonukshe objecting to the correction. Read the rest of this entry »

Diederik Stapel retraction count updated to 57

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stapel_npcWe’ve learned about two more retractions we missed for Diederick Stapel, the Dutch social psychology researcher who has now racked up a total of 57 retractions by our count.

Both retractions were issued after a committee released a report which established fraud in dozens of papers co-authored by Stapel.

Stapel is still #4 on our leaderboard.

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Prostate cancer paper flagged by ORI is retracted following PETA prompt

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cover_issue_129_en_USA federal investigation into a paper on prostate cancer has now led to a retraction. In an unusual twist, it happened following a request from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In January, the Office of Research Integrity reported that corresponding author Dong Xiao “intentionally fabricated data” in an Oncotarget study of how a steroid inhibits the growth of prostate cancer. Xiao, a former cancer researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, claimed that he had tumor data from more mice than he did, and falsified several figures.

In July, after no sign of the retraction, a researcher at PETA followed up with the journal, Oncotarget, on behalf of the organization “and our more than 3 million members and supporters to request the immediate retraction.”

Last month, they received a reply from the publisher, which they forwarded to us:

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Former ob-gyn prof notches ninth retraction; investigation still underway

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Nasser Chegini

Nasser Chegini

A retired obstetrics and gynecology professor under federal investigation for misconduct has notched his ninth retraction.

The latest retraction stems from an investigation by the University of Florida, where Nasser Chegini worked until 2012, which found fabricated data in three figures in a paper on the muscle cells that line the uterus.

The paper, “Differential expression of microRNAs in myometrium and leiomyomas and regulation by ovarian steroids,” was published in The Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. It’s been cited 74 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the note:

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

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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

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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