Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“Rigging of the peer-review process” kills parasite paper

without comments


A paper on nematode parasites appears to have been infected with a nasty strain of a publishing problem known as fake peer review. By our count, the phenomenon has felled approximately 250 papers in total.

The affected review, “The important role of matrix metalloproteinases in nematode parasites,” explores a type of enzyme secreted by the parasite. Published in Helminthologia, it’s been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Unfortunately, the retraction note doesn’t give us too many details about how the peer review process was manipulated:

Read the rest of this entry »

Danish neuroscientist sentenced by court for lying about faked experiments

with 8 comments

court caseIn a rare development, neuroscientist Milena Penkowa has been sentenced by a Danish court for faking data.

The ruling, from the Copenhagen City Court, resulted from Penkowa’s publication of her 2003 thesis describing experiments that she never carried out. The court “placed weight” on the fact that she didn’t just commit fraud, but “systematically supplied false information” to avoid being caught, according to the court’s notice.

The sentence is nine months of “conditional imprisonment,” according to our translation; The University Posta newspaper affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, calls it a “nine month suspended sentence with a two years probation.”

Here’s the full summary of the new ruling, from the Copenhagen City Court (translated from Danish by One Hour Translation):

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

October 1st, 2015 at 9:10 am

Predatory journals published 400,000 papers in 2014: Report

with 16 comments

BMC medicineThe number of so-called “predatory” open-access journals that allegedly sidestep publishing standards in order to make money off of article processing charges has dramatically expanded in recent years, and three-quarters of authors are based in either Asia or Africa, according to a new analysis from BMC Medicine.*

The number of articles published by predatory journals spiked from 53,000 in 2010 to around 420,000 in 2014, appearing in 8,000 active journals. By comparison, some 1.4-2 million papers are indexed in PubMed and similar vetted databases every year.

These types of papers have become a major problem, according to Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver who studies the phenomenon: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 30th, 2015 at 8:00 pm

NIH rescinds grant to Texas eye researcher

with 12 comments

banner-nihlogoA scientist who uses imaging to study the eye and brain has lost a major grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In June, the NIH revised the award for Timothy Duong at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio from $332,500 per year to $0, and included this statement: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 30th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Investigation finds “careless data workup” in alcoholism drug paper

without comments


An investigation at Karolinska Institute has led to the retraction of a paper about drug treatments for alcoholics, after concluding the article contains a “very careless data workup.”

The paper, “Memantine enhances the inhibitory effects of naltrexone on ethanol consumption,” found that the drug memantine (normally used to treat Alzheimer’s) enhances the effects of naltrexone in rats, which blocks the high of alcohol.  It was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology and has been cited 10 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

However, its conclusion is now “unreliable,” according to the retraction note:

Read the rest of this entry »

Should peer review be open, and rely less on author-picked reviewers? Study says…

with 14 comments

BMJ openAfter reviewing hundreds of peer review reports from three journals, authors representing publishers BioMed Central and Springer suggest there may be some benefits to using “open” peer review — where both authors and reviewers reveal their identity — and not relying on reviewers hand-picked by the authors themselves.

But the conclusions are nuanced — they found that reviewers recommended by authors do just as good a job as other reviewers, but are more likely to tell the journal to publish the paper. In a journal that always uses open reviews — BMC Infectious Diseases — reviews are “of higher quality” than at a journal where authors are blinded to reviewers, but when one journal made a switch from a blinded to an open system, the quality didn’t improve.

Here’s what the authors conclude in the abstract of the paper, published today in BMJ Open: Read the rest of this entry »

Following criticism, BMJ “clarifies” dietary guidelines investigation

with 2 comments

downloadThe BMJ has issued two “clarifications” to an investigation it published last week that questioned whether the new U.S. dietary guidelines were evidence-based.

The article criticized several aspects of the new dietary guidelines, such as “deleting meat from the list of foods recommended as part of its healthy diets.” However, according to the clarification, that sentence should have specified “lean” meats.

After The BMJ‘s article appeared, an analysis on The Verge questioned whether The BMJ’s author Nina Teicholz was guided by her own opinions. She’s the author of a book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee also posted a lengthy “rapid response”The BMJ‘s refined version of a comment section — to Teicholz’s article, saying it “strongly disagrees with many of the statements represented as facts.”

This afternoon, Rebecca Coombes, head of investigations and features at The BMJ, posted a response: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

September 29th, 2015 at 3:35 pm

German dep’t head reprimanded for not catching mistakes of co-author Lichtenthaler

with 5 comments

Holger Ernst

Holger Ernst

The head of a department at WHU — Otto Beisheim School of Management has been charged with “severe scientific misconduct” for not spotting many of the data irregularities of his co-author Ulrich Lichtenthaler, which have ultimately led to 16 retractions.

According to a news release describing a WHU investigation (which we had translated using One Hour Translation), Holger Ernst did not neglect his supervisory duties, but, as a co-author on many of the retracted papers, he should have been more aware of the data issues in Lichtenthaler’s work: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 29th, 2015 at 9:30 am

1+1 “identical” math papers = retraction

without comments

homeHeaderTitleImage_en_USA paper on an equation useful in finance has been retracted after editors discovered an “identical” version had been published in another journal.

The paper, “On the Parametric Interest of the Black-Scholes Equation,” was published in the Thai Journal of Mathematics. According to the introduction, that equation has a practical use:

In financial mathematics, the famous equation named the Black-Scholes equation plays an important role in solving the option price of stocks

(According to The Guardian, it was “The mathematical equation that caused the banks to crash.”)

Here’s the retraction note in full:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

September 28th, 2015 at 11:30 am

4th ORI-flagged paper by Oregon student is retracted

with 2 comments

home_cover (2)The last of four papers containing data falsified by University of Oregon neuroscience student David Anderson has been retracted.

When the Office of Research Integrity report flagging the papers came out in July, Anderson told us he “made an error in judgment,” and took “full responsibility” for the misconduct.

The newly retracted paper, “A common discrete resource for visual working memory and visual search,” published in Psychological Science, has been cited 28 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. According to the abstract, it demonstrates a possible link between working memory and the ability to “rapidly identify targets hidden among distractors.”

But according to the retraction note, Anderson produced “results that conformed to predictions” by “removing outlier values and replacing outliers with mean values”  in some of the data.

Here’s the retraction note in full:

Read the rest of this entry »