The week at Retraction Watch featured the retraction of a paper on homeopathy whose authors had been arrested; news about 30 retractions for an engineer in South Korea; and a story about how two stem cell researchers who left Harvard under a cloud are being recommended for roles at Italy’s NIH. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: No reproducibility crisis?; greatest corrections of all time; an archaeology fraud
A former researcher at New York University falsified and/or fabricated data in multiple papers and grant applications, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.
According to the ORI:
After being “blindsided” a few months ago when she was told one of her 2005 papers was going to be retracted, a researcher scrambled to get information about why. And when she didn’t like the answers, she took to PubPeer.
Eight days ago, Shalon (Babbitt) Ledbetter, the first author of the 2005 paper published in Cell, posted a comment on the site announcing the paper was going to be retracted after the last author’s institution, Saint Louis University (SLU), determined that some figures had been manipulated by the last author, Dorota Skowrya. A letter dated September 2, 2015 sent by SLU to Cell describes the results of the investigation — namely, that the manipulations were “cosmetic,” and had no effect on the data or the conclusions. More than two years later, Ledbetter learned the journal was planning to retract the paper, and an initial draft of the notice wouldn’t identify who was responsible; she has since been pulled into a confusing web of blame-shifting and conflicting information that has been, in her words, “heartbreaking.”
Ledbetter wrote on PubPeer:
What Caught Our Attention: A previous collaborator with high-profile plant biologist Olivier Voinnet (who now has eight retractions) has issued an interesting correction to a 2010 PNAS paper. Susana Rivas is last author on the paper, the correction for which notes some images were duplicated, and others were “cropped and/or stretched to match the other blots.” Rivas is currently a group leader at The Laboratory of Plant-Microbe Interactions (LIPM), “a combined INRA-CNRS Research Unit.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Voinnet co-author issues another correction
In a recent editorial, the Journal of Neurochemistry declared it would no longer accept author-suggested reviewers. While other journals have done the same in order to prevent fake reviews, the Journal of Neurochemistry is basing its decision on a different logic. We spoke with editor Jörg Schulz about why he believes relying on reviewers picked by editors helps reduce bias in the peer-review process.
Retraction Watch: What prompted you to compare the outcomes of papers reviewed by experts suggested by authors versus experts selected by editors, or experts the authors “opposed?”
Errors in a 2017 paper about a new cancer test may have occurred because of a simple typo while performing calculations of the tool’s effectiveness.
According to the last author, the “1” key was likely not pressed hard enough.
The error, however small, affected key values “so greatly that the conclusions of the paper can no longer be supported,” the editor said, which prompted the journal to retract the paper. Continue reading “The ‘1’ key was not pressed hard enough:” Did a typo kill a cancer paper?
A cancer researcher based at The Ohio State University has retracted five papers from one journal, citing concerns about figures.
The notices for all five papers state the Journal of Biological Chemistry raised questions about some figures, and the authors were not able to supply raw data in all instances. Four of the notices say the authors offered to submit data from repeat experiments and corrected figures, which the journal declined.
According to Kaoru Sakabe, data integrity manager at JBC, the authors “agreed to withdraw these articles after we declined their offers.”
Two stem cell scientists who left Harvard University in the aftermath of a messy misconduct investigation may have found new roles in Italy’s National Institute of Health.
According to a document on the institute’s website, which we had translated, Piero Anversa and Annarosa Leri have been approved to start work at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) by the institute’s board of directors. However, the president of the organization told us that the hirings are not yet final.
The document says the board unanimously recommended the appointments of Anversa and Leri on January 31 as winning candidates with “a rating of ‘excellent.’”
According to the document, Anversa would be an ISS expert in stem cell-based treatments for diabetes and Leri would be an expert in stem-based therapies for cardiovascular disease.
However, ISS president Gualtiero Ricciardi told Retraction Watch: Continue reading Stem cell researchers investigated for misconduct recommended for roles at Italy’s NIH
An engineer in South Korea has lost 30 papers, at least seven of which for duplication and plagiarism. He has also been fired from his university position.
Soon-Gi Shin, whose affiliation was listed as Kangwon National University in Gangwon, is the sole author on the majority of the papers, published in four journals between 2000 and 2015.
Taewan Kim, the dean of international affairs at the university, told Retraction Watch that Shin was fired on August 21, 2017, over “violation[s] of research ethics.”
Retractions take too long, carry too much of a stigma, and often provide too little information about what went wrong. Many people agree there’s a problem, but often can’t concur on how to address it. In one attempt, a group of experts — including our co-founder Ivan Oransky — convened at Stanford University in December 2016 to discuss better ways to address problems in the scientific record. Specifically, they explored which formats journals should adopt when publishing article amendments — such as corrections or retractions. Although the group didn’t come to a unanimous consensus (what group does?), workshop leader Daniele Fanelli (now at the London School of Economics) and two co-authors (John Ioannidis and Steven Goodman at Stanford) published a new proposal for how to classify different types of retractions. We spoke to Fanelli about the new “taxonomy,” and why not everyone is on board.
Retraction Watch: What do you think are the biggest issues in how the publishing industry deals with article amendments?