Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Should systematic reviewers report suspected misconduct?

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BMJ Open

Authors of systematic review articles sometimes overlook misconduct and conflicts of interest present in the research they are analyzing, according to a recent study published in BMJ Open.

During the study, researchers reviewed 118 systematic reviews published in 2013 in four high-profile medical journals — Annals of Internal Medicine, the British Medical Journal, The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet. In addition, the authors contacted review authors to ask additional questions; 80 (69%) responded. The review included whether the authors had followed certain procedures to ensure the integrity of the data they were compiling, such as checking for duplicate publications, and analyzing if the authors’ conflicts of interest may have impacted the findings. 

Carrying out a systematic review involves collecting and critically analyzing multiple studies in the same area. It’s especially useful for accumulating and weighing conflicting or supporting evidence by multiple research groups. A byproduct of the process is that it can also help spot odd practices such duplication of publicationsRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 16th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Researcher in Brazil earns 12th retraction for recycling text and figures

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Thermochimica ActaA scientist in Brazil has gained his twelfth retraction for reusing text and figures from previously published papers.

In 2011, Elsevier announced that it would retract 11 papers by Claudio Airoldi, a researcher at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. Subsequently, he was suspended for 45 days, and his co-author on the 11 previously pulled papers, Denis de Jesus Lima Guerra, lost his post at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (also in Brazil).

Now, a 12th retraction has appeared for Airoldi — this time in Thermochimica Acta.

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

We’re blinded by positive results. So what if we removed them?

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Mike Findley

Mike Findley

The problem of publication bias — giving higher marks to a paper that reports positive results rather than judging it on its design or methods — plagues the scientific literature. So if reviewers are too focused on the results of a paper, would stripping a paper of its findings solve the problem? That was the question explored in a recent experiment by guest editors of Comparative Political Studies. Mike Findley, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the guest editors of the journal, talked to us about a new paper explaining what they learned.

Retraction Watch: Can you explain what a “results-free” paper looks and reads like? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 15th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Journal blacklists authors for plagiarizing case report about hypersexuality in dementia

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Advances in Human BiologyA biology journal has blacklisted authors from publishing their work after finding their case report about a dementia patient with hypersexuality was plagiarized from a previously published report.

The retraction notice, issued by Advances in Human Biology (AIHB) in June, recognizes the case as “scientific misconduct.” The journal launched an investigation after the plagiarism was flagged by the author of the original report, the editor-in-chief of the journal told us. Eventually, the journal retracted the report — and removed it entirely from their website.

Additionally, the journal posted this notice on their site, blacklisting the authors from publishing in AIHB again: Read the rest of this entry »

Judges toss lawsuits by CrossFit gym claiming fraud in $273 million in grants

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court caseFederal judges in Ohio have dismissed two lawsuits claiming that university researchers used false results to secure more than $250 million in federal grants.

Both lawsuits, which objected to a study examining the effects of CrossFit-based training, were filed by Mitchell Potterf, the owner of a gym affiliated with CrossFit in Columbus, Ohio. Potterf took issue with a 2013 study by researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) that was conducted at his gym.

Potterf filed one suit against the OSU researchers and a second against the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NCSA). The NSCA publishes the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, where a paper about the study appeared. The article, “Crossfit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition,” has been cited 15 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

The study followed 43 men and women as they completed 10 weeks of CrossFit-based training. In addition to those 43 participants, 11 dropped out before completing the regimen. According to the original paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael Koziol

August 15th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Weekend reads: Manuscript submission headaches; Trophy Generation goes to grad school; is science fucked?

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Written by Ivan Oransky

August 13th, 2016 at 9:59 am

Posted in weekend reads

Researcher notches fourth retraction, has left university

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Plant Ecology

A researcher with four retracted papers has left his former institution in Malaysia, according to an official at the university.

In March, we reported on the retractions of two studies in Environmental Geochemistry and Health co-authored by Muhammad Aqeel Ashraf. Both papers were pulled citing a “compromised” peer review process. The now-retracted work was carried out at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Ashraf was previously based.

However, Ashraf later moved to University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; but now, according to an official at the institution, Ashraf is no longer based at UMS after “suspicion” arose into his work.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 12th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Meet the researcher with 13 retractions who’s trying to sue PubPeer commenters: Fazlul Sarkar

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Fazlul Sarkar

Fazlul Sarkar

Fazlul Sarkar has not had a good month: In the last few weeks, he has earned 13 retractions across four journals, the latest in the fallout from a string of legal cases that have pitted him against one of science publishing’s major players.

Sarkar gained attention in 2014 when he sued anonymous commenters of PubPeer for defamation, and for potentially costing him a new gig at the University of Mississippi. But before all that, he was a respected researcher with hundreds of published papers, 38 of which were cited at least 100 times each. He’d also received $12.8 million in NIH funding for his research. So how did it all fall apart?

With the involvement multiple lawsuits, multiple institutions, and multiple people — some of whom are anonymous — it can get complex trying to keep track of it all. So for your convenience, we’ve compiled a timeline of recent events in the case: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael Koziol

August 12th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Author loses five papers, most for “compromised” peer review

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PLOS OnePLOS ONE has retracted three papers after the first author admitted to submitting the manuscripts without co-authors’ consent, and an investigation suggested that two out of the three papers had received faked reviews.

Last August, the same author — Lishan Wang of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University — lost two more papers (one in Tumor Biology and the other in Gene), also after the peer review process was found to be compromised. All five papers — which share other authors in common — were originally published in 2013, and four list Wang as the first author. The retractions follow an investigation by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Here’s the retraction notice for two of the PLOS ONE papers, issued on July 26: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract study with contaminated cell lines

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MBoCAuthors of a molecular biology paper have pulled it after realizing that their cell lines were contaminated.

According to the notice in Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC), the contamination occurred by “unknown means” in the senior authors’ laboratory, who told us the mistake was a difficult one to catch. He added that they discovered the problem after other researchers published conflicting results.

He also noted that the contaminated cell lines were not used for experiments in any other papers.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued on August 1: Read the rest of this entry »