Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Cancer researcher earns 3 more retractions following NIH misconduct investigation

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A researcher formerly based at the National Cancer Institute has earned three new retractions following an investigation that found she committed misconduct.

In May of last year, Stephanie Watkins, who now works at Loyola Medicineearned two retractions, which mention a review by an investigation committee at the National Institutes of Health. Two of the new notes, published in Cancer Research, mention the review as well, and cite data falsification in a figure as the reason for retraction. Watkins is the only author that did not agree to those retractions.

There may be more changes to the literature — an editor at another cancer journal told us the journal is awaiting a decision from the Office of Research Integrity before deciding what to do with a paper by Watkins, given that she does not agree with the misconduct charges.

We’ll start with a retraction note from Cancer Research:

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Seven papers flagged earlier for fake reviews now retracted by Elsevier

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elsevierElsevier has now retracted the seven papers it flagged in October as being affected by fake peer reviews.

If you’re not keeping track, we are: We have logged a total of about 300 retractions for fake peer review, in which some aspect of the peer-review process becomes compromised — for instance, in the case of the newly retracted papers, authors appear to have created fake email accounts in order to pose as reviewers and give the green light to their own papers.

The same retraction note applies to five of the recently retracted papers:

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Neuroscientist in Serbia set to notch 7th retraction amid investigation

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Lidija Radenović

Amidst an ongoing investigation by the University of Belgrade in Serbia into allegations of duplication by neurobiologist Lidija Radenović, a journal is planning to retract another one of her papers.

Radenović has already racked up six retractions; Elinor Ben-Menachem, the chief editor of the journal, Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, confirmed her journal is planning to retract one paper co-authored by Radenović, but did not specify which one. After digging around on the journal’s website, we found only one paper co-authored by Radenović, which was 2005 study about the molecular changes that follow stroke. 

Ben-Menachem, who is based the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said the retraction note for the paper is “not ready” yet, and declined to comment on the case in more detail, including the reason for retraction. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientific misconduct and sexual harassment: Similar problems with similar solutions?

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Michael Chwe

Michael Chwe

Today colleges and universities face a crisis of accountability in two domains: scientific misconduct and sexual harassment or assault.  Scientific misconduct and sexual harassment/assault are obviously different, but the way they are reported, handled, and play out have many similarities. Michael Chwe at the University of California in Los Angeles has been thinking about this for a while.  Just last summer his own department was rocked by the high-profile retraction of a Science paper about gay canvassers, and two graduate students in the UCLA history department sued the university for failing to investigate sexual harassment complaints.  Chwe suggests that, if scientific misconduct and sexual assault are similar, they might have similar solutions.

Scientific misconduct and sexual assault have more in common than you might think. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

April 6th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Cancer researcher earns 9th retraction, for image duplication

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Journal of Clinical InvestigationAlfredo Fusco, a researcher in Italy who has been under criminal investigation for scientific misconduct, has earned his ninth retraction.

Retraction number nine, by The Journal of Clinical Investigation, is for duplicating data from another publication — which has also faced questions on PubPeer about image manipulation, along with many other papers by Fusco.

The retraction note for “The RET/PTC-RAS-BRAF linear signaling cascade mediates the motile and mitogenic phenotype of thyroid cancer cells” explains that the journal is pulling the paper even though the authors claim that they can reproduce the data:

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Lancet issues expression of concern for 2011 Macchiarini paper

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Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini

The Lancet has tagged an expression of concern onto a seminal 2011 paper by Paolo Macchiarini, the Italian surgeon whose work and conduct outside the operating room has earned months of  heavy criticism that recently culminated in his dismissal from the Karolinska Institutet.

Tracheobronchial transplantation with a stem-cell-seeded bioartificial nanocomposite: a proof-of-concept study,” which described the first case of a transplant using an artificial trachea seeded with the patient’s own stem cells, now bears an expression of concern from The Lancet editors, citing ongoing investigations. The journal has also removed three more authors from the paper, upon their request.

The expression of concern essentially presents the timeline of the controversy that led the journal to make this move:

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Concerns attached to three more papers by retraction-laden management researcher

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Fred Walumbwa

Fred Walumbwa

Fred Walumbwa, a management researcher with eight seven retractions, has received three expressions of concern from two journals after he failed to provide raw data following an investigation into potential errors.

In the past, Walumbwa has said he only keeps data until his papers are published, but a lack of raw data has become a common theme in his notices, which now also include four corrections, and one other EOC (making a new total of four). There are no standard rules about how long to store raw data, but one journal that issued two of the new EOCs has since updated its submission policy to require that authors keep data for at least five years.

Walumbwa currently works at Florida International University. When concerns about the statistics were raised about five of his papers in Personnel Psychology, the journal conducted an investigation that led to flagging two of those articles, the expression of concern explains:

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Neuroscientist pleads guilty in court to fraud, gets two-year suspended sentence

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Bruce Murdoch

Bruce Murdoch

A Parkinson’s researcher pleaded guilty to fraud in court this morning in Brisbane, Australia, and received a two-year suspended sentence.

Court sentences for fraud are rare, to say the least. This one follows an investigation by Bruce Murdoch‘s former employer, the University of Queensland, into 92 papers — resulting in the retraction of three papers co-authored by Caroline Barwood, also facing fraud charges. The investigation was unable to find any evidence that published research cited in court had been ever carried out.

The Australian reported this morning that Murdoch:

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Denmark court clears controversial psychologist of misconduct charges

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helmuth-nyborg-180

Helmuth Nyborg

A Danish court has determined that psychologist Helmuth Nyborg did not commit misconduct in a controversial 2011 paper which predicted an influx of immigrants into Denmark would lower the population’s average IQ by the latter part of this century.

The ruling, reported by the Danish newspaper Politiken, overturns a previous finding of misconduct by the the Danish Committees for Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD). It’s yet another example of scientists bringing academic disputes to the courthouse — just last year, a Danish court overturned another misconduct ruling by the DCSD against physiologist Bente Klarlund Pedersen.

The 2011 paper by Nyborg, “The Decay of Western Civilization: Double Relaxed Darwinian Selection,” appeared in Personality and Individual Differences, and quickly aroused concerns in a group of Danish scientists. The main charges: That the article denied authorship to another author, and misused a reference.

As first reported in the Danish press, an inquiry by the Danish Committees for Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) concluded in 2013 that: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

March 30th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Concerns about image manipulation? Sorry, the data were lost in a flood

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1 (1)Lost your data? Blame nature.

Microchimica Acta has retracted a paper about water-soluble quantum dots after the authors couldn’t provide back-up for a figure that contained signs of manipulation. The reason, the editor told us: The corresponding author said the raw data were lost in a flood in Sri Lanka.

The journal asked the authors for the data after an investigation suggested that the paper included copied pictures of the same nanoparticle. The paper is one of four by the pair of co-authors flagged on PubPeer for potential image duplication.

Here’s the retraction note for “CdS/ZnS core-shell quantum dots capped with mercaptoacetic acid as fluorescent probes for Hg(II) ions:”

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