Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

How to better flag retractions? Here’s what PubMed is trying

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Hilda Bastian

Hilda Bastian from the National Library of Medicine

If you’ve searched recently for retracted articles in PubMed — the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s database of scientific abstracts — you may have noticed something new.

In fact, you may have had trouble ignoring it, which is sort of the point. “It” is a large salmon banner that looks something like this: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 20th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Institute director loses third paper following investigation

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Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 4.16.03 PM

An autism researcher is retracting a paper she shared with the director of a New York institute, following a misconduct investigation.

In 2011, suspicions raised by peer reviewers triggered the investigation into several papers by Xiaohong Li at the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR) in New York. The probe concluded in 2013 that there was no evidence of misconduct, but the committee recommended the institute review all relevant papers. This additional review led to the latest retraction, the result of problems with figures which “underpin the conclusions of the study.”

This is Li’s third retraction, all of which she shares with W. Ted Brown, the director of  IBR. The pair lost two articles in 2013.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Alteration of astrocytes and Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in the frontalcortex of autistic subjects,” published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation: 

Read the rest of this entry »

Canada funding agency bans researcher for fraud, and in first, reveals her name

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via WCH

via WCH

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has banned a bone researcher for life following a finding of misconduct. And in a first, the agency has named her, in their report out today.

The case of Sophie Jamal may be familiar to Retraction Watch readers, as we covered it in October of last year following reporting by The Toronto Star. JAMA retracted a 2011 study by Jamal and colleagues in December, as we reported, and she resigned her positions at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) and the University of Toronto.

Jamal, according to the an investigating committee at WCH: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 19th, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Researcher hired lawyers to try to get journal to run correction he wanted

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BMCLogoWhen a researcher suspected a paper on fireflies had borrowed some of its methodology, he called lawyers to help him convince the publisher to craft a correction notice that was to his satisfaction.

Although the authors submitted a correction to BMC Plant Biology acknowledging Robert Birch as the original author of some material, as we reported previously, the publisher instead issued an expression of concern (EOC), noting that there was an “authorship dispute.”

When our post ran earlier this year, we didn’t know why a request for correction had turned into an EOC, which — as its name states — is typically more cause for concern than a correction. We’re still not sure exactly why, but we have learned that Birch disputed the content of the authors’ suggested correction, and hired lawyers to try to change the wording. From his perspective, there are several problems with the paper, he told us:

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1st retraction for ex-Pitt postdoc who admitted to doctoring data

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American Journal of Physiology Renal Phsyiology

A former postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pittsburgh has issued his first retraction after an investigation by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) concluded he had falsified and/or fabricated data in two published papers.

The ORI investigation into the work of Kenneth Walker, determined that he had

falsified and/or fabricated quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) data to demonstrate a statistically significant or “trend” of statistical difference in the expression of renal or bladder urothelium and muscle developmental markers between control and experimental (mutant) mice, when there was none.

The ORI report said that Walker has agreed to retract or correct a 2013 PLOS ONE paper and a 2015 study published in American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology (AJPRP).

Here’s the first retraction notice, issued by AJPRP: Read the rest of this entry »

War over whistleblower protection for Kansas ecology prof wages on

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nsfA contentious case over whether a fired ecologist deserves whistleblower protection is playing out in Kansas, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) has once again weighed in.

For the second time, the NSF has told the researcher, Joseph Craine, that he does not qualify for protection as a whistleblower after he was fired from Kansas State University (KSU) for sharing misconduct allegations with a journal editor.

Craine initially asked the NSF for whistleblower protection status in 2014, arguing that he had been retaliated against for making misconduct allegations to the journal Ecology. The NSF denied Craine’s claim, but Craine appealed to federal court, which found the NSF’s reasoning opaque and remanded the case back to the agency. On June 24, the NSF’s General Counsel Lawrence Rudolph issued a new 11-page letter that lays out the basis for its decision: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Brendan Borrell

July 19th, 2016 at 9:30 am

“Great shock and sadness:” Publishing gadfly to retract paper for duplication

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untitledA vociferous advocate for correcting the literature — who has been banned by two publishers for his persistent communications — has asked journals to retract one paper and correct three others for duplications.

After a reader flagged his 2004 paper on PubPeer last month, author Jaime Teixeira da Silva “immediately” contacted the journal to alert it that the paper had been duplicated, as he noted on a recent comment on our site:

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Author loses 2nd paper on supposed dangers of chemtrails

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Frontiers in Public HealthAgainst the author’s wishes, a journal has retracted a paper about chemtrails, a long-standing conspiracy theory about the dangers of cloud trails released from jet planes.

After the paper was scrutinized on librarian Jeffrey Beall’s blog and social media last week, Frontiers in Public Health issued an expression of concern (EOC). The paper was published June 30, and retracted yesterday, in a relatively rare case of rapid action by a journal. 

Last year, we reported on another retraction of a paper about chemtrails by the same author — J. Marvin Herndon, a geophysicist and self-described “independent researcher” at the Transdyne Corporation in San Diego, California.

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

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

July 18th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Journal taking second look at paper on campus rape

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violence and genderA journal is reviewing a paper about trends in rape at U.S. colleges after the author realized a mistake.

Although the journal Violence and Gender hasn’t issued any editorial notice about the paper, Inside Higher Ed published a correction July 14 to its original news story about the topic.

Dangerous Colleges: Associations Between School-Level Factors and the Risk of Sexual Victimization of Female Students” found that the risk of rape was higher at large, public institutions, but after the author realized he had made a coding error, he contacted Inside Higher Ed to explain that the risk of rape was higher only at public universities, regardless of their size.

The paper appeared in the June, 2016 issue of the journal; Sophie Mohin, Assistant Managing Editor for publisher Mary Ann Liebert, told us the author alerted the journal to the mistake on July 12: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

July 18th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Weekend reads: More Impact Factor scrutiny; $10 million fine for overbilling; protected Canadian fraudsters

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured the loss of a Harvard researcher’s PhD for misconduct, and the harrowing tale of a whistleblower. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 16th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads