Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“The results were so perfect” — and now they’re being retracted

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journal-of-photochemistry-and-photobiologyRecently, François-Xavier Coudert, a researcher at the Research Institute of Chemistry of Paris in France, noticed something strange: A nearly perfect image in a chemistry paper, with none of the typically expected “noise.”

Last week, he started a thread on PubPeer, alerting readers to his concerns — namely, that a microscopy image showed hexagons with crisp edges. The author responded that the students had been working to obtain a “perfect hexagonal structure,” and had adjusted the contrast of the image to make it seamless. But, the author noted, the paper was being retracted for other reasons.

Indeed, a spokesperson for Elsevier, which publishes the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (JPB), has confirmed to us the paper will be retracted. Here’s the upcoming notice for “Influence of humic acid on the stability and bacterial toxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticles in water,” which cites image duplication as the reason: Read the rest of this entry »

“Bats are really cool animals!” How a 7-year-old published a paper in a journal

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Alexandre Martin

The scientific literature has seen its share of child prodigies – such as a nine-year-old who published a study in JAMA, and a group of eight-year-olds who reported on bumblebees in Biology Letters. But Alexandre Martin of the University of Kentucky sought to help his seven-year-old son get published in a non-traditional way – by submitting his school report to a journal on Jeffrey Beall’s predatory list, the (now-defunct) International Journal of Comprehensive Research in Biological Sciences. They recount the story in a recent paper in Learned Publishing, giving young Martin his first taste of academic publishing, and helping his father expose its flaws.

Retraction Watch: As part of your experiment, you reformatted a booklet written by your seven-year-old about bats. In an excerpt in your paper, one line says “Bats are really cool animals!” The entire paper was only 153 words, according to The Times Higher Education. Did you think the paper would be accepted by the journal? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 18th, 2016 at 11:30 am

What do retractions look like in Korean journals?

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plos-one-better-sizeA new analysis of retractions from Korean journals reveals some interesting trends.

For one, the authors found most papers in Korean journals are retracted for duplication (57%), a higher rate than what’s been reported in other studies. The authors also deemed some retractions were “inappropriate” according to guidelines established by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) — for instance, retracting the article another paper duplicated from, or pulling a paper when an erratum would have sufficed.

One sentence from “Characteristics of Retractions from Korean Medical Journals in the KoreaMed Database: A Bibliometric Analysis,” however, particularly struck us:  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

October 18th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Parkinson’s researcher in Australia pleads not guilty to fraud

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood pleaded not guilty to fraud-related charges in a Brisbane courtroom Monday.

According to 9News, Barwood is accused of three counts of fraud, and four instances of attempted fraud, which include trying to obtain approximately $700,000 (AUD) from various organizations between 2011 and 2013 for a study that never occurred. The case follows an investigation at her former institution, the University of Queensland (UQ), which resulted in three of her papers being retracted

Crown Prosecutor Caroline Marco alleged that Barwood was also intimately involved with Bruce Murdoch, her former colleague at the UQ, who has pleaded guilty to 17-fraud related charges, and received a two-year suspended sentence earlier this year.

Marco also claimed that Barwood admitted that Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 17th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Despite retraction, antipsychotics still effective, safe for dementia, says author

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alzheimers-research-and-therapyResearchers have retracted a systematic review that suggested that antipsychotic drugs are effective and safe for patients with symptoms of dementia — but claim their re-analysis of the updated data still comes to the same conclusions.

According to the retraction notice in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, some participants were incorrectly included twice in the meta-analysis. 

The corresponding authors recently lost another paper for an entirely different reason — earlier this year, we reported on a retraction in Annals of Neurology for Jin-Tai Yu and Lan Tanaffiliated with the Ocean University of China, Qingdao University, and Nanjing Medical University in China. The authors pulled that paper after appearing to pass off others’ data as their own.

Here’s the retraction notice for the review, issued earlier this year: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors fix three Diabetes papers flagged for image issues

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diabetesResearchers have corrected three studies published in the journal Diabetes after users flagged issues with the images on PubPeer.

All three papers share a number of authors, including the same last and corresponding author, Aimin Xu, from The University of Hong Kong.

Since the corrections appear relatively extensive, we asked the journal if retractions were ever on the table. According to Chris Kohler, associate publisher, scholarly journals at American Diabetes Association, which publishes Diabetes, an ethical panel reviewed the papers before allowing the authors to issue the errata, all of which were published online this month: Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: Arguments for abandoning “statistically significant,” boorish behavior, and useless clinical trials

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured developments in the retraction of a paper claiming the dangers of GMOs, and claims of censorship by a Nature journal. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 15th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Parkinson’s researcher with three retractions heads to court on Monday

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Caroline Barwood

Caroline Barwood

On Monday, Parkinson’s researcher Caroline Barwood will head to court in Brisbane, Australia, following a probe at her former institution, the University of Queensland (UQ).

Barwood was granted bail in November, 2014 — charges included  that she “dishonestly applied for grant funds,” and fabricated research that claimed a breakthrough in treating Parkinson’s disease, according to The GuardianIn March, Bruce Murdoch, a former colleague of Barwood’s at UQ, pleaded guilty to 17 fraud-related charges, and received a two-year suspended sentence after an institutional investigation into 92 academic papers.

We contacted Barwood about the upcoming trial, but she told us Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 14th, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Posts you may have missed: Macchiarini logs EoC, 4 retractions for cardiovascular researcher

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We get email glitches from time to time, and some alerts don’t go out to readers. In cased you missed them, here are two posts from this week that didn’t make it into your inbox:

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Written by Alison McCook

October 14th, 2016 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Eighth Voinnet paper retracted — this one from Science

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Olivier Voinnet

Olivier Voinnet

A high-profile plant scientist who has been racking up corrections and retractions at a steady clip has had another paper — this one from Science — retracted.

The retraction, of a paper that had been previously corrected, is the eighth for Olivier Voinnet. According to the notice, the correction did not address all the figure problems with the paper, which “cannot be considered the result of mistakes.”

Here’s the notice in full: Read the rest of this entry »