Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Troubled article ranking business schools earns expression of concern

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jpimAn article that ranked University of Missouri-Kansas City number one in an area of business school training is set to receive an expression of concern. The move follows months of questions over the ranking’s legitimacy, following revelations such as a relationship between the authors and both the school and its top ranked researcher in the field.

In 2011, the business world got a bit of a surprise: In the field of innovation management, the study of how entrepreneurs convert good ideas into profit, the number one school – according to an article in the Journal of Product Innovation Management — was UMKC. Not Harvard, not Stanford, not any other institution that normally tops these types of rankings. UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management was also home to the number one researcher in that field, Michael Song.

The school, of course, was elated, immediately issuing a press release titled “UMKC Ranked No. 1 in the World.”

But after publication, a UMKC professor raised concerns about the paper’s methodology. An investigation by the Kansas City Star uncovered some issues:

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Sticky situation: Paper using honey for healing pulled over data issues

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Image via Hillary Stein

A paper on dressing wounds with honey has been retracted after the journal realized that an outlier patient was throwing off the data analysis.

Honey has been used for millennia as an antimicrobial wound dressing. Doctors can even buy sterile preparations of the sweetener. But the evidence that honey is better than other wound dressings is still inconclusive.

According to the retracted paper, published in International Wound Journal in 2008, Manuka honey has an acidic pH which helps reduce the alkaline environment of chronic woulds. Indeed, the authors found that Manuka honey dressings lowered wound pH and reduced wound size.

Sadly, the paper was pulled in 2014, after someone realized one patient had a particularly large wound that was throwing off statistics. The injury was 61 cm^2 at the beginning of the study, while the others ranged from .9 to 22 cm^2. After removing that patient from the analysis, the results no longer held up.

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So you want to be a whistleblower? A lawyer explains the process

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We are pleased to present the first in a series of articles by John R. Thomas, Jr., a lawyer at Gentry Locke who represents whistleblowers in a variety of False Claims Act cases. He writes about how whistleblowers can do the right thing and protect themselves in the process.

John R. Thomas

John R. Thomas, Jr.

As readers of Retraction Watch are well aware, scientific misconduct is a problem for a number of reasons. Science builds upon itself; unfounded scientific results lead to wasted research efforts, ineffective medical therapies, and faulty public policy conclusions. Even one fraudulent paper can have profound effects, such as fueling an anti-vaccine movement.

Research misconduct also erodes public trust in science and endangers ongoing public funding of scientific research. Following the recent discovery of fabricated AIDS research at Iowa State University, Senator Grassley addressed the issue before the U.S. Senate:

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Written by Alison McCook

March 18th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in law

Castle made of sand: Self-plagiarism washes away paper on dune particles

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sedgeolA group of geologists in China have lost their paper on the aerodynamics of sand particles because the article was mashed together from previous publications.

The article, “The influence of sand diameter and wind velocity on sand particle lift-off and incident angles in the windblown sand flux,” appeared in the May 2013 issue of Sedimentary Geology. It was written by a team from the Key Laboratory of Mechanics on Western Disaster and Environment at Lanzhou University.

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

Cell biologists in South Korea retract two papers

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jbcA group of researchers at two universities in South Korea have retracted two cell biology papers featuring retinoic acid.

The most recent retraction appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Although, in typical JBC fashion, the reason for it is anyone’s guess.

Here’s the unhelpful notice for “ASXL1 represses retinoic acid receptor-mediated transcription through associating with HP1 and LSD1:” Read the rest of this entry »

WordPress parent company wins suit fighting false DMCA copyright claims

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automattcIn late 2013, we filed suit along with Automattic, the parent company of our blogging platform WordPress, against someone allegedly at a news service in India who falsely claimed that we had violated its copyright. Last week, we were pleased to learn Automattic won a similar case against a group that tried to censor another blogger.

Both suits were designed to draw attention to people who misuse the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as an excuse to censor information they don’t like. Last summer, we withdrew our suit, because the defendant had “neither served an answer nor a motion for summary judgment, and indeed has not appeared,” according to our dismissal filing. But by then the issue had made its way to Capitol Hill, where Automattic general counsel Paul Sieminski used our case as an example of DMCA abuse in testimony last March.

While we of course would have liked to have continued pursuing the case against Narendra Chatwal at the so-called News Bullet in Utter Pradesh, we were very pleased to hear last week that Automattic had prevailed in a second, similar case they filed at the same time as ours. In this case, blogger Oliver Hotham was targeted by a group championing the rights of heterosexuals after he posted excerpts from a press release the group sent him along with some commentary; in response, “Straight Pride UK” invoked the DMCA to force Hotham to take down the post. As Ars Technica reported: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 16th, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Warning: plagiarism may be hazardous to your safety paper

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12 Process Safety and Environmental Protection (once)A paper on making emergency evacuations more efficient at facilities that handle hazardous materials has been retracted for plagiarism.

According to the Process Safety and Environmental Protection retraction notice, the 2013 paper, by a group at Tsinghua University in Beijing, plagiarized part of a 2007 article by Greek researchers called “Modeling emergency evacuation for major hazard industrial sites.” (The 2007 article has been cited 46 times, according to Google Scholar.)

Here’s the notice for “Emergency Response Plans Optimization for Unexpected Environmental Pollution Incidents using an Open Space Emergency Evacuation Model” (paywalled): Read the rest of this entry »

A first retraction for Einstein (no, not that one)

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einsteinIn 1932, Einstein famously retracted his “cosmological constant.” Now, more than 80 years later, a Brazilian healthcare journal bearing his name has retracted its first paper.

The authors of the review, about the effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation in hospitalized patients on ventilators, appear to made the genius move of trying to publish their paper in two different journals at once.

Here’s the top of an editorial announcing the retraction: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 16th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Weekend reads: Dissertations for sale, spurious impact factors, the roots of plagiarism

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booksThis week at Retraction Watch featured the retraction of yet another spoof article, and the temporary shutdown of a journal. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 14th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Updated: Springer journal on hold for “pattern of inappropriate and compromised peer review”

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cbbSpringer has put a cell biology journal on hold, “effective immediately,” after finding a “pattern of inappropriate and compromised peer review.”

Here’s the brief statement from the publisher: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 13th, 2015 at 12:46 pm