Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

When publishers mess up, why do authors pay the price?

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Springer has retracted two papers, which appeared online earlier this year in different journals, after discovering both were published by mistake.

A spokesperson at Springer explained that the retractions are “due to a human error.”

According to one of the retraction notices, published in Archive for Mathematical Logic, the paper had not yet undergone peer review and the author plans to resubmit his paper to the journal. The other retraction notice, published in Arabian Journal of Geosciences, simply states that an “error in the submission system” is to blame. Unfortunately, in both cases the authors now have a retraction on their record, seemingly through no fault of their own.

Neither notice indicates what publisher glitches led to the premature publications. We asked the spokesperson for clarity, but she did not elaborate. When asked whether Springer has made changes to prevent these errors from happening again, the spokesperson said:

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Written by Victoria Stern

December 5th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: What if you find out a paper relied on expired herbal supplement?

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Exploration of inhibitory mechanisms of curcumin in lung cancer metastasis using a miRNA- transcription factor-target gene network

What Caught Our Attention: The researchers were studying how curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, can inhibit lung cancer metastases. But upon learning that the primary material had been expired at the time of testing (and realizing they were unable to repeat their experiments), the researchers pulled their paper. Expiration dates do have safety factors built in, but attention to such details is imperative in research.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

December 4th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Journal bans author for three years after retracting paper with “serious ethical” problems

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An anatomy journal has banned a researcher from submitting papers for three years after determining one of his recently published papers suffered from “serious ethical” issues.

According to Jae Seung Kang, associate editor at the journal Anatomy and Cell Biology (ACB), the paper’s sole authorJae Chul Lee—falsified both his affiliation and approval for conducting animal experiments in the paper, published online in March.

Kang said the journal discovered the issues after Lee submitted other papers to the journal this past August. During the journal’s review process, it discovered “over 70% redundancy”—ie, plagiarism—between the newly submitted papers and two now-retracted papers—the ACB paper as well as a 2015 paper published in the Journal of Pathology and Translational Medicine, on which Jae Chul Lee was corresponding author. The issues prompted the journal to conduct “an in-depth investigation,” Kang said. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: Problems in studies of gender; when scholarship is a crime; a journal about Mark Zuckerberg photos

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Written by Ivan Oransky

December 2nd, 2017 at 10:01 am

Posted in weekend reads

Caught Our Notice: Don’t count your chicken (genes) before they’re hatched

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Molecular Characterization and Biological Activity of Interferon-α in Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)

What Caught Our Attention: Soon after the paper appeared, the journal was alerted to the fact its findings were at odds with others in the field. When the editor approached the authors, everything fell apart: The authors couldn’t repeat the experiments, and “were also unsure of the molecular probes that were used in the study.” While it isn’t unusual to have doubts about data — since since research is a process of experimentation — it is odd not to know how your experiment was conducted. The paper was retracted less than two months after it was published. The manuscript was accepted two months after it was submitted in early May, theoretically giving reviewers enough time to catch these issues (along with the authors’ failure to cite relevant papers).  

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NIH to researchers: Don’t publish in bad journals, please

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The U.S. National Institutes of Health has noticed something: More of the research it’s funding is ending up in questionable journals. Recently, the agency issued a statement highlighting some qualities of these journals — aggressively soliciting submissions, failing to provide clear information about pricing — and urging researchers to avoid them. The NIH’s goal: to “help protect the credibility of papers arising from its research investment.” We asked the NIH for more information about the guide notice; a representative returned responses, asking that we attribute them to the NIH Office of Extramural Research.

Retraction Watch: What prompted the NIH to issue this guide notice? Was there an incident?

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Written by Alison McCook

December 1st, 2017 at 8:00 am

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Scientist to chemistry journal: “Plse retract this ms ASAP”

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The presence of allegedly obvious manipulations in a 2017 chemistry paper has prompted a reader outcry.

Over the last couple of days, a user on PubPeer and others on Twitter have accused the paper of containing clear duplications; the paper was already corrected in August, in which one scientist alleges the authors replaced “an obviously fabricated” figure with a “slightly better photo-shopped one.”

In response, the editor of ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, David Kaplan, told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

November 30th, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Brazil research foundation sues scientist over $103k scholarship

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The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), a state-level agency in Brazil that funds scientific research, is suing Paty Karoll Picardi, a protégé of Brazilian diabetes researcher Mario Saad.

According to a São Paulo Court of Justice website, the reason stated is for “recebimento of bolsa de estudos,“ which translates to “receipt of scholarship.” FAPESP is suing for 334,116 Brazilian Reals ($102,927).

Now, Picardi is counter-suing, according to a case document released Nov. 17 — although we’re not sure for what, and why.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

November 30th, 2017 at 11:26 am

Publisher: “We are disappointed to be parting company with the editorial board”

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After the editorial board of a public health journal resigned in protest last week, the publisher is trying to “move on.”

In a statement from Taylor & Francis, the publisher laments that the board of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health “did not wish to take the opportunities offered by ourselves and the editor-in-chief to discuss the journal’s future,” and defended its recent editorial decisions that were questioned by the board.

Since the the spring, the board has vocally protested actions taken by the journal without consulting the editorial board, including its decision to appoint a new editor with industry ties, and the “unilateral withdraw[al]” of a paper by the previous editor that was critical of corporate-sponsored research, with little explanation. In the resignation letter from last week, the board said it did not wish to participate in the “apparent new direction that the journal appears to be moving towards.”

In its statement, the publisher says it has no plans to make “major changes” to the journal:

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Written by Alison McCook

November 30th, 2017 at 8:00 am

New York psychiatry researcher charged with embezzlement, faces jail time

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Alexander Neumeister. Source: Yale School of Medicine

A researcher specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder is facing jail time for allegedly embezzling tens of thousands of dollars of federal grant money.

Yesterday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced criminal charges against Alexander Neumeister, alleging he used the grant funds on trips and meals for family and friends. As the New York Times reported last year, Neumeister was dismissed from his position at New York University (NYU); NYU shut down eight of his studies following an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which found evidence of lax oversight, falsified records, and inaccurate case histories. 

The U.S. Attorney has also filed a civil lawsuit against Neumeister under the False Claims Act, also for misuse of grant funding. The complaint does not specify the total amount of funds he allegedly misused.

In a statement, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said Neumeister:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

November 29th, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Posted in united states