Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Journal pulls parasite paper over potential for patient harm

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Parasitology ResearchA journal has retracted a paper about a molecular diagnosis for leishmaniasis out of concern it could lead to incorrect clinical diagnoses. 

According to Parasitology Research, all data behind the figures in the main manuscript and supporting information are correct, but the authors’ misinterpretation of the data could lead doctors to diagnose patients incorrectly. 

Let’s take a look at the retraction notice, which tells us a bit more about the nature of the problem: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

May 19th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Nature fixes highly cited paper suggesting food additives hurt the gut

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Nature_latest coverA 2015 study about dietary emulsifiers has been corrected by Nature after another researcher pointed out a few ambiguities.

When it first appeared, the study — which showed emulsifiers cause inflammation in the guts of mice — received a fair amount of media attention, including from Nature’s own news department. But since publication, a researcher noted some imprecision around the ages of mice used in the sample, affecting the paper’s calculations of weight gain over time. Andrew Gewirtz, co-author of the study from Georgia State University, told us the change did not affect the conclusions of the paper.

Here’s the corrigendum for “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome”: Read the rest of this entry »

What happened after a journal decided to get tough on plagiarism?

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Reiss

Carol Shoshkes Reiss

In July 2015, DNA and Cell Biology began routinely scanning manuscript submissions for plagiarism using iThenticate; since then, it’s rejected between four and six manuscripts each month for that reason alone. Additional submissions have been rejected after the journal realized the authors had digitally altered figures. The level of misconduct “shocked” editor-in-chief Carol Shoshkes Reiss, as she wrote in a recent editorial for the journal. She spoke to us about the strict measures the journal has adopted in response to these incidents.

Retraction Watch: Why did you decide to begin scanning submissions for plagiarized text using iThenticate™ software in July, 2015? Did something prompt that decision? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 18th, 2016 at 11:30 am

PLOS ONE pulls maize paper with Photoshopped images

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PLOS OnePLOS ONE has retracted a paper after editors learned that some of the images had been manipulated using Photoshop.

First author of the paper, Chuan Li, confirmed that he was responsible, and told Retraction Watch he apologizes for his “low-level mistake.”

Zhongfu Ni, last author of the paper from the China Agricultural University in Beijing, told us that all the co-authors agree with the retraction.

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

Doing the right thing: Authors share data, retract when colleague finds error

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no spine minimum. full size. Editor: Holly JEM: Leslie RTP: Karen Geist ancac3

A pair of chemical engineers has retracted a paper after another researcher was unable to replicate their work, in a case that we consider an example of doing the right thing.

Dennis Prieve, at Carnegie Mellon University, was interested in applying the paper — on how systems of molecules known as “reverse micelles” conduct electrical charge — to his own work, but was having trouble repeating the calculations. So Prieve contacted the authors — John Berg and his PhD student Edward Michor, based at the University of Washington — who supplied him with their original data.

It took several weeks of back and forth to figure out the problem, Michor told us, as the paper was published in 2012, so he had to decipher his old notes. When they found that several incorrect values were used in the paper, the authors issued a retraction notice, published in March:

Read the rest of this entry »

In precedent break, BMJ explains why it rejected controversial “weekend effect” paper

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After the reviewer of a rejected paper was publicly outed, the BMJ has taken the unusual step of explaining why it chose not to publish the paper.

The paper — eventually published in another journal — raised hackles for suggesting that there is no “weekend effect,” or a higher mortality rate in hospitals on Saturday and Sunday. This caught the attention of UK policy makers, who have proposed changing policies to compensate for any supposed “weekend effect.”

Amidst the heated discussion about the research, one of the reviewers was identified, along with suggestions that he may have been conflicted because he had published a study showing the opposite finding. Yesterday, the BMJ posted a blog explaining that it was the editors — and not one sole reviewer — who decided to reject the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 17th, 2016 at 11:49 am

Dev Cell paper retracted after author admits to doctoring data

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Developmental CellThe authors of a Developmental Cell paper have retracted it after the first author admitted to manipulating and falsifying data and reagents.

The problems came to light after the authors couldn’t reproduce the findings, about a mechanism underlying meiosis. When questioned about the matter, the first author of the paper, Saurav Malhotra, admitted to doctoring data and materials. 

Here’s the retraction notice to the paper, “The Anaphase-Promoting Complex/Cyclosome Is Essential for Entry into Meiotic M-Phase: Read the rest of this entry »

Publicly available data on thousands of OKCupid users pulled over copyright claim

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okcupidThe Open Science Framework (OSF) has pulled a dataset from 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid over copyright concerns, according to the study author.

The release of the dataset generated concerns, by making personal information — including personality traits — publicly available.

Emil Kirkegaard, a master’s student at Aarhus University in Denmark, told us that the OSF removed the data from its site after OkCupid filed a claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires the host of online content to remove it under certain conditions. Kirkegaard also submitted a paper based on this dataset to the journal he edits, Open Differential Psychology. But with the dataset no longer public, the fate of the paper is subject to “internal discussions,” he told us.

In place of the dataset on OSF, this message now appears: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 16th, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Dairy journal retracts paper lacking co-authors’ consent

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Dairy science and technologyA journal about dairy science has retracted a paper after learning that it was published without the consent of all its authors.

An independent inquiry found no evidence of research misconduct, but nevertheless recommended that the institution — Curtin University in Perth, Australia — request to retract the paper.

Here’s the retraction notice, published in Dairy Science and Technology: Read the rest of this entry »

Researchers decry study warning of low-carb diet risks

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Nutrition and DiabetesAdvocates of low-carbohydrate diet are voicing concern about a recent paper that suggested the diet could cause weight gain, contrary to previous research. One expert has even called for its retraction.

The study, published in Nutrition & Diabetes in February, also found that the low-carb diet did little to prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have since criticized the study for drawing these conclusions based on data from a handful of mice, using a poor proxy for the human version of the diet.

One expert took to social media to warn against the study’s message regarding the low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF); for instance, obesity & nutrition researcher and author, Zoë Harcombe from Newport, Wales, tweeted: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

May 16th, 2016 at 9:30 am