Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘unhelpful retraction notices’ Category

A paper about eye damage in astronauts got pulled for “security concerns.” Huh?

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Here’s a head-scratcher: A 2017 paper examining why long space flights can cause eye damage has been taken down, with a brief note saying NASA, which sponsored the research, asked for the retraction because of “security concerns.”

According to the first author, the paper included information that could identify some of the astronauts that took part in the study — namely, their flight information. Although the author said he removed the identifying information after the paper was online, NASA still opted to retract it. But a spokesperson at NASA told us the agency did not supply the language for the retraction notice. The journal editor confirmed the paper was retracted for “research subject confidentiality issues,” but referred a question about who supplied the language of the notice back to NASA.

Now lawyers are involved.

So we still have some questions about this one. Here’s what we do know.

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Unnamed institution makes baffling retraction requests, journals comply

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Two journals are retracting papers published by researchers affiliated with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

To be frank, we’re baffled by most of this story. The retraction notices say “the institution” requested the retractions, but don’t name it; the first and last authors are also affiliated with the University of Southern California, as well as CHLA. Neither journal will say which institution sent the request, and USC and CHLA have each declined to comment on the retractions.

Here’s what we do know: Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher who tangled with CrossFit loses two more papers

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An exercise scientist who ran a study of the CrossFit exercise program without an approved human subjects protocol has lost two more papers to retraction.

Both papers were retracted on June 26 by the editors of the International Journal of Exercise Science (IJES) with the agreement of last author Steven Devor, a former professor at The Ohio State University. Both have been retracted because the studies were carried out without proper IRB approval.

Earlier in June, another paper from the CrossFit study — which is still at the center of a legal battle between CrossFit and a competitor in the market for exercise instructor licensing — was retracted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) for improper IRB approval. Devor resigned from OSU the day after the first retraction.

Only one of the newly retracted papers had anything to do with the CrossFit study: Published in April 2014, this paper suggested that the so-called “paleo” diet — a diet focused on meat and vegetables — is associated with “unfavorable” changes in cholesterols and other blood-based cardiovascular biomarkers. In addition to following the diet, subjects also participated in a CrossFit exercise program. Read the rest of this entry »

“We made big mistakes:” Gastric paper pulled with unusual notice

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Sometimes we come across a real head-scratcher.

That happened this week, when we saw a retraction notice for a 2015 paper on gastric cancer in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, which only says the authors “made big mistakes” and contains two fairly significant typos.

Although there’s no sign of a retraction on PubMed, the table of contents for the latest issue of the journal lists the retraction — but includes no hyperlink to the notice. The only way to see it is via a Web cached version. Here’s the text:

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Physics journal retracts paper without alerting author

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An Elsevier journal has angered an author by removing his study without telling him.

After spending months asking the journal why it removed the paper — about a heavily debated theorem in physics — and getting no response, the author threatened to seek damages from the journal and publisher for “permanently stigmatizing” his work. Yesterday, an Elsevier representative told the author what happened: Experts told the journal the paper had a major mistake, so the journal decided to withdraw the study, but failed to tell the author due to an “internal error.”

That explanation didn’t satisfy study author Joy Christian, scientific director of the Einstein Centre for Local-Realistic Physics in Oxford, UK, who has demanded the journal either republish the article or remove it and return the copyright to him, or he will pursue legal action.

Here’s the cryptic publisher’s note for “Local causality in a Friedmann–Robertson–Walker spacetime:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

September 30th, 2016 at 12:00 pm

U.S. gov’t researchers withdraw climate paper after using pseudonyms

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adv-space-resClimate scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have withdrawn a study they wrote under eyebrow-raising pseudonyms.

The withdrawn paper, about predicting surface temperatures of planets, appeared in Advances in Space Research in August, 2015, and is authored by Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez.

Normally, a withdrawal wouldn’t raise our eyebrows, but climate scientist Gavin Schmidt pointed out on Twitter that the authors’ names are eerily similar to another pair who have published climate papers together: Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. Yes, that’s correct — Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez are Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller spelled backwards. Nikolov and Zeller are currently listed as a physical scientist and a meteorologist, respectively, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The notice doesn’t state the reason for withdrawal, and Pascal Willis, editor-in-chief of Advances in Space Research from the Earth Physics Institute in Paris, France, referred us to the study’s authors for more information. Elsevier, which publishes Advances in Space Research, confirmed that the paper was retracted due to an “authorship issue” — namely, that the authors had used pseudonyms.

We used the contact information listed on the paper for “Den Volokin,” and got this response: Read the rest of this entry »

A tale of two retraction notices — for the same paper

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curentHere’s a strange one: We discovered a paper about an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria that bore two retraction notices, and each provided a different reason for retraction. One alleged misconduct; that notice still appears now. The other — which has since disappeared — said the paper was submitted by mistake.

In vitro effect of boric acid and calcium fructoborate esters against methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus strain” was published in the South-Western Journal of Horticulture, Biology and Environment. The full text isn’t available on the journal’s website.

First, here’s the text in the retraction notice that appears when one clicks on the “download full text” link in the table of contents next to the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Beg pardon? Researchers pull cancer paper because, well, um, you see …

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dovepressWe’ve been writing about retractions for six years, and things tend to fall into easily recognizable categories — plagiarism, fabricated data, rigged peer review, etc.

So it’s always interesting to come across a notice sui generis, such as one that appeared in July in OncoTargets and Therapy, a Dove title, about a new way to detect tumor markers.

According to the retraction notice:

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Journal retracts nutrition paper, citing authors’ “unethical behavior”

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A journal has retracted a paper for a somewhat unusual reason — and swapped the article with an entirely new paper by different authors.

The journal, Materia Socio-Medica, said it’s retracting a paper about diet in dialysis patients because of some of the authors “un-ethical behaviors” in previous issues of the journal. In its place, the journal has published a paper about tuberculosis, also a curious move.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Effect of Diet Education on Blood Pressure Changes and Interdialytic Weight in Hemodialysis Patients Admitted in Hajar Hospital in Shahrekord:”  Read the rest of this entry »

Did an author retract a paper at company’s behest? Retraction notice says yes, author now says no

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The author of a paper whose retraction notice says it was pulled at the behest of a company now says that wasn’t the case.

It’s a bit difficult to get this story straight: Although the retraction notice says a company complained the 2006 paper was “giving business inputs to their competitors,” the corresponding author told us no one asked him to retract the paper. Instead, he said, he was concerned about the inclusion of plant materials that belong to a previous employer, and did a “poor job” of explaining the reason for retraction. But since the results of the paper remain valid, Santosh Rajput — now a plant breeder at Dryland Genetics LLC in Ames, Iowa — told us he regrets asking to retract it:

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