Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

German dep’t head reprimanded for not catching mistakes of co-author Lichtenthaler

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Holger Ernst

Holger Ernst

The head of a department at WHU — Otto Beisheim School of Management has been charged with “severe scientific misconduct” for not spotting many of the data irregularities of his co-author Ulrich Lichtenthaler, which have ultimately led to 16 retractions.

According to a news release describing a WHU investigation (which we had translated using One Hour Translation), Holger Ernst did not neglect his supervisory duties, but, as a co-author on many of the retracted papers, he should have been more aware of the data issues in Lichtenthaler’s work: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 29th, 2015 at 9:30 am

1+1 “identical” math papers = retraction

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homeHeaderTitleImage_en_USA paper on an equation useful in finance has been retracted after editors discovered an “identical” version had been published in another journal.

The paper, “On the Parametric Interest of the Black-Scholes Equation,” was published in the Thai Journal of Mathematics. According to the introduction, that equation has a practical use:

In financial mathematics, the famous equation named the Black-Scholes equation plays an important role in solving the option price of stocks

(According to The Guardian, it was “The mathematical equation that caused the banks to crash.”)

Here’s the retraction note in full:

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Written by Shannon Palus

September 28th, 2015 at 11:30 am

4th ORI-flagged paper by Oregon student is retracted

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home_cover (2)The last of four papers containing data falsified by University of Oregon neuroscience student David Anderson has been retracted.

When the Office of Research Integrity report flagging the papers came out in July, Anderson told us he “made an error in judgment,” and took “full responsibility” for the misconduct.

The newly retracted paper, “A common discrete resource for visual working memory and visual search,” published in Psychological Science, has been cited 28 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. According to the abstract, it demonstrates a possible link between working memory and the ability to “rapidly identify targets hidden among distractors.”

But according to the retraction note, Anderson produced “results that conformed to predictions” by “removing outlier values and replacing outliers with mean values”  in some of the data.

Here’s the retraction note in full:

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Weekend reads: STAP saga over once and for all?; plagiarizing prof gets tenure

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured the appeal of a modern-day retraction, and a look at whether a retraction by a Nobel Prize winner should be retracted 50 years later. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 26th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

50 years later, is it time to retract a retraction by a Nobel prize-winning author?

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Georg Wittig

Georg Wittig

It’s not often that an article is retracted only to be later proven correct. But that may have happened this past summer in the chemistry literature.

In July, a group of researchers recapitulated an experiment largely similar to one that Nobelist Georg Wittig had performed – and subsequently retracted — decades earlier. Their findings suggest Wittig may actually have gotten it right the first time.

On July 27, Peter Chen of ETH Zurich and colleagues published an article online in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition that describes a new method for appending a carbon atom to an unsaturated hydrocarbon to create a three-membered ring – a useful chemical transformation known as cyclopropanation. Yet, it was not the first time researchers had reported such a process. As Chen and his colleagues note in the Israel Journal of Chemistry, Georg Wittig of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (who would go on to win the chemistry Nobel Prize in 1979) and Volker Franzen reported a similar reaction in 1960 in Angewandte Chemie, a German-language publication. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jeffrey Perkel

September 25th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Mirror image in plant study flagged on PubPeer grows into retraction

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djs_mpmi_28_9_cover-online.inddA 2010 paper on plant fungus has been retracted after a comment on PubPeer revealed that a study image had been flipped over and reused to represent two different treatments.

In May, a commenter pointed out the plants in Figure 2a of the paper in the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions “look remarkably similar.” A commenter writing under the name of corresponding author, Yukio Tosa at Kobe University in Japan, posted a response two days later agreeing with the assessment and stating that the paper should be retracted.

The notice reads: Read the rest of this entry »

Biologist banned by second publisher

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Plant researcher Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva has been banned from submitting papers to any journals published by Taylor & Francis. The reason: “continuing challenges” to their procedures and the use of “inflammatory language.”

This is the second time Teixeira da Silva has been banned by a publisher —  last year Elsevier journal Scientia Horticulturae told him that they refused to review his papers following “personal attacks and threats.”

Apparently, Taylor & Francis has too become frustrated with Teixeira da Silva’s communication strategy. Anthony Trioli, from Taylor & Francis, told Teixeira da Silva in an email (to which Teixeira da Silva copied us on his reply) that they would no longer accept his papers:

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Written by Shannon Palus

September 24th, 2015 at 2:30 pm

PLOS Genetics updates flagged paper with expression of concern

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Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.15.29 PM

PLOS Genetics has upgraded a notice on a paper to an expression of concern, raising the count for author chemist Ariel Fernandez to one retracted paper, and three expressions of concern.

The journal published “Protein Under-Wrapping Causes Dosage Sensitivity and Decreases Gene Duplicability” in 2008. In 2013, Fernandez corrected it, claiming that the work was not actually funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, as the original paper had said. The paper has been cited 33 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the expression of concern in full, which was published on September 14:

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Written by Shannon Palus

September 24th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Can you spot the signs of retraction? Just count the errors, says a new study

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downloadClinical studies that eventually get retracted are originally published with significantly more errors than non-retracted trials from the same journal, according to a new study in BMJ.

The authors actually called the errors “discrepancies” — for example, mathematical mistakes such as incorrect percentages of patients in a subgroup, contradictory results, or statistical errors.

The study doesn’t predict which papers will eventually be retracted, since such discrepancies occur frequently (including one in the paper itself), but the authors suggest a preponderance could serve as an “early and accessible signal of unreliability.”

According to the authors, all based at Imperial College London, you see a lot more of these in papers that are eventually retracted: Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s how to keep clinical trial participants honest (and why that’s a big deal)

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NEJMAdditional lab tests, creating a clinical trial patient registry, and rewards for honesty are among the advice doled out in this week’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine for researchers to help avoid the major issue of participants lying to get into clinical trials.

In the Perspective, David B. Resnik and David J. McCann, both based at the National Institutes of Health, address concerns raised by a 2013 survey of clinical trial participants that revealed “high rates” of “deceptive behavior.” Specifically: Read the rest of this entry »