Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misconduct investigations’ Category

Lancet retracts 24-year-old paper by “father of nutritional immunology” after reopening inquiry

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lancetFollowing questions from outside experts, a retraction of a related paper, a university investigation and a court case, The Lancet has decided to retract a 1992 paper by Ranjit Kumar Chandra, the self-proclaimed “father of nutritional immunology.

In a lengthy retraction note included in the January 30 issue, the journal explains that:

the balance of probabilities in our judgment is that the reliability of the 1992 Lancet paper by Chandra can no longer be assured.

Chandra is objecting to the retraction.

This retraction was a long time coming, so sit back and relax as we fill in the backstory. Read the rest of this entry »

EMBO takes back Voinnet’s award, investigates other awardee who just lost a Nature Genetics paper

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Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.41.20 AMEMBO has taken back an award given to beleaguered plant biologist Olivier Voinnet in 2009, and is investigating a recent grantee who had a paper retracted from Nature Genetics yesterday.

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) “promotes excellence in the life sciences” in Europe, in part by awarding prizes to promising young scientists. Voinnet and Sonia Melo earned their awards by exhibiting potential as young scientists studying genetics — of plants and cancer, respectively — but now EMBO is skeptical of the papers that formed the basis of their applications.

Melo’s Installation Grant from EMBO was announced just last month, and consists of 50,000 Euros annually for three to five years. She is currently based at the University of Porto, in Portugal.

Voinnet’s problems are well-documented on this blog — 21 corrections, seven retractions, and two investigations. Earlier this week, we reported that the Swiss National Science Foundation had cut off Voinnet’s funding, and banned him for three years. Read the rest of this entry »

Investigation of undisclosed conflicts in catheter paper uncovers flawed data, too

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cov150hAn investigation into a paper that compared infection rates from different types of central lines started with an allegation about a failure to disclose a conflict of interest, and ended up concluding that the science in the paper was flawed.

The 2013 paper — now retracted by the American Journal of Infection Control — suggested a particular kind of connector between the catheter and the patient could reduce some of the notoriously deadly bloodstream infections associated with the procedure, according to a press release that publicized the work. But last year, the journal issued an expression of concern for the paper, noting there were questions about the data. The retraction note reveals an investigation at Georgia Regents University — now known as Augusta University — started looking into undisclosed conflicts of interest in the paper, and ultimately concluded the science was flawed.

Here’s the retraction note, published in the January 1st 2016 issue of the journal, for “Comparison of central line-associated bloodstream infection rates when changing to a zero fluid displacement intravenous needleless connector in acute care settings

Read the rest of this entry »

Following an earlier investigation, GW biologist earns two expressions of concern

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3.cover (1)The Journal of Biological Chemistry has flagged two papers by a George Washington University cancer biologist with expressions of concern, following an investigation completed by the university in 2014.

The notes contain little specific information; all we know is that there are questions about the data and conclusions in the papers.

The last author on both papers is Rakesh Kumar, who adds these EoCs to a count that includes, according to our records, three retractions and five corrections. Plus an $8 million lawsuit against his employer for emotional distress when they put him on leave from his position as department chair.

The studies — “Stimulation of inducible nitric oxide by hepatitis B virus transactivator protein HBx requires MTA1 coregulator” and “Regulation of NF-B circuitry by a component of the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase complex controls inflammatory response homeostasis” — have been cited 22 times and 33 times respectively, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The expression of concern is the same for both papers — and matches others that we’ve seen from JBC:

Read the rest of this entry »

Ontario court quashes part of misconduct finding for prominent pair

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Sylvia Asa

Sylvia Asa

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Shereen Ezzat

An Ontario court has quashed part of a misconduct finding against a prominent husband and wife team by the University Health Network in Toronto.

Last year, we reported that Sylvia Asa had stepped down from her position as Program Medical Director of the Laboratory Medicine Program at the UHN — the largest hospital diagnostic laboratory in Canada — after an investigation uncovered evidence of falsified data in two papers co-authored with her husband, Shereen Ezzat. Both of their research labs were also suspended as a result. The researchers subsequently appealed the decision.

On Friday Sunday, the Toronto Star reported that the court had set aside the finding of falsification, but upheld a finding of misconduct in the form of material non-compliance. It asked UHN to review the sanctions against both researchers, and cover their legal fees of $20,000.

Here’s the conclusion from the decision:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

January 25th, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Can a journal retract its plan to retract? Science may

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Science is reconsidering its plan to retract a paper about using RNA to make palladium nanoparticles after one of the authors submitted a last-minute correction.

Editor in chief Marcia McNutt told us that the journal will make a decision about whether to retract or correct the paper by February 5th.

We are not certain that what he submitted changes anything, but we wanted to consider this new information before acting.

In the meantime, today the journal issued an Expression of Concern for the paper.

The journal’s initial decision to retract the paper stemmed from an investigation at the National Science Foundation, which concluded that co-authors Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim — currently at the University of Colorado at Boulder — engaged in “a significant departure from standard research practices,” and cut them off from NSF funding unless they took specific actions. When the report on the investigation came to light earlier this month, Science editor in chief Marcia McNutt told us that she planned to issue a retraction:

We are checking to see how soon we can get it published.

McNutt explained what changed:  Read the rest of this entry »

Lawsuit against Ole Miss for rescinded Sarkar job offer dismissed; briefs filed in PubPeer case

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court caseWe recently obtained court documents showing that, in September, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by cancer researcher Fazlul Sarkar against the University of Mississippi after it rescinded a job offer after reviewing concerns raised about his research on PubPeer.

Sarkar’s connection to PubPeer will be familiar to many readers — he has also taken the site to court to force them to reveal the identity of the anonymous commenters who have questioned his findings. He has accused the commenters of defamation, arguing they cost him the job offer. Today, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief on behalf of PubPeer’s appeal of the court’s most recent ruling, that the site must disclose the identity of an anonymous commenter. At the same time, some heavy hitters in science – Bruce Alberts and Harold Varmus — and technology — Google and Twitter — filed briefs in support of the appeal.

The lawsuit against Ole Miss has brought to light the reasoning behind the school’s decision to rescind their offer to Sarkar — and the key role played by the concerns raised on PubPeer.

In a letter dated June 19, 2014 to Sarkar from Larry Walker, the director of the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, Walker chides Sarkar for not revealing the extent of the ongoing questions over his research during the interview process:

Read the rest of this entry »

Former UCSD prof’s company admits to grant fraud

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court caseA company headed by a former astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, has agreed to forfeit $180,000 after admitting to defrauding the government.

If SciberQuest, Inc. is unable to pay back the money — the result of fraudulently obtaining government grants and contracts — then its CEO Homayoun Karimabadi will be personally liable, the lawyer for SciberQuest and Karimabadi told Retraction Watch.

We asked if the company was going to be able to repay the $180,000; in response, Robert Rose of firm Sheppard Mullin told us: Read the rest of this entry »

ASU prof resigns following plagiarism charges, receives $150k+ salary until May 2017

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Matthew Whitaker

Matthew Whitaker

A faculty member at Arizona State University has resigned after he was placed on administrative leave while the university investigated plagiarism charges against him.

According to a copy of the settlement agreement obtained by the Arizona Republic, he will continue to receive his salary of more than $150,000 for more than one year.

He will also be reimbursed $25,000 in attorney fees.

According to the agreement: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

January 19th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Anonymous complaint about Dutch economist is “unfounded”: Report

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Peter Nijkamp

Peter Nijkamp

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) has dismissed an anonymous accusation against economist Peter Nijkamp and two of his colleagues, including one of his graduate students, regarding issues related to “data acquisition and data processing.”

The announcement, released last week, determined the latest complaint was “unfounded:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

January 19th, 2016 at 9:30 am