Weekend reads: ‘The surprising history of abstracts’; is peer review broken?; bee waggle dance data gets the wrong kind of buzz

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The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up past 400. There are more than 49,000 retractions in The Retraction Watch Database — which is now part of Crossref. The Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker now contains more than 250 titles. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers? What about The Retraction Watch Mass Resignations List — or our list of nearly 100 papers with evidence they were written by ChatGPT?

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

Continue reading Weekend reads: ‘The surprising history of abstracts’; is peer review broken?; bee waggle dance data gets the wrong kind of buzz

Journal retracts letter to the editor about predatory journals for ‘legal concerns’

A journal has retracted a letter to the editor and removed the online version from its website “because legal concerns were raised to the Publisher,” according to the notice. The retracted letter had referred to multiple journals as “predatory.” 

The retracted letter, “A threat to scientific integrity,” appeared in the British Dental Journal in August 2023. The author, Niall McGuinness, director of the MClinDent / DClinDent programme in orthodontics at the Edinburgh Dental Institute, criticized a May 2023 opinion article, “What does the Dentists Act say about orthodontic treatment choice?” for the articles it cited.

In particular, McGuinness called out citations to publications in journals “of questionable probity in regard to publication ethics – ‘predatory’ journals as defined by Jeffrey Beall, of the University of Colorado,” according to an archived version seen by Retraction Watch. He listed four journals cited in the article, including one from the publisher Frontiers and another from MDPI, which appeared on Beall’s list. 

Continue reading Journal retracts letter to the editor about predatory journals for ‘legal concerns’

‘Rare’ criminal charges for data manipulation in Cassava case send a ‘powerful message’: lawyers

Hoau-yan Wang

The recent criminal indictment of a medical school professor and former scientific advisor to Cassava Sciences on fraud charges for manipulating images in scientific papers and applications for federal funding is a “rare” outcome for such alleged actions that “sends a very, very powerful message.” 

That’s according to lawyers who have worked on research misconduct cases. 

While many investigations by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity and other government watchdogs find scientists manipulated data in grant applications to the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, few are charged with “major fraud against the United States,” as was Hoau-yan Wang

Continue reading ‘Rare’ criminal charges for data manipulation in Cassava case send a ‘powerful message’: lawyers

Author blames retraction on ‘Chinese censorship’

Thomas Ameyaw-Brobbey

A former assistant professor of international relations at Yibin University in Sichuan, China, said he was fired from his job and “forced” to retract a paper on COVID-19 because the article did not “paint a good picture of the Chinese government.”

In the 2021 paper, Thomas Ameyaw-Brobbey, now an adjunct lecturer at Accra Business School in Ghana and an adjunct research fellow at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College, discussed the negative effects of the pandemic on the global public opinion of Chinese leadership and how the outbreak fostered  an “unfavorable image” of China.

After the article appeared in the Journal of International Studies, authorities at Yibin University held several meetings with Ameyaw-Brobbey asking him to explain the paper and why he used a dataset of public opinion in the United States that was “likely to be biased towards China,” he said.

Continue reading Author blames retraction on ‘Chinese censorship’

University president faces allegations of duplication, institution says no misconduct

Masahiro Yoshimoto

The president of the Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) has corrected two of his papers and is set to correct another amid allegations of duplication – sometimes inelegantly referred to as “self-plagiarism” – despite a university committee clearing him of misconduct. 

Employees at the university have accused president Masahiro Yoshimoto of duplication between 11 sets of his published papers – implicating 34 papers in total. 

The employees submitted the allegations to the institution last October, backing their claims with an analysis by plagiarism detection software iThenticate. Two of these employees spoke to Retraction Watch on condition of anonymity, fearing a loss of support from their colleagues if they spoke publicly. Their concerns triggered an investigation at KIT, which cleared Yoshimoto of misconduct in January. However, the whistleblowers still believe the papers should be retracted. 

Continue reading University president faces allegations of duplication, institution says no misconduct

The wolf in Scopus’ clothing: Another hijacked journal has indexed nearly 900 articles

Mohammed Al-Amr

A prolific hijacked journal has managed to breach the defenses of Scopus, one of the world’s leading academic databases. This time, the target is the award-winning journal Community Practitioner, the official publication of the UK-based organization Unite-CPHVA.

On July 7, 2023, I reported via 𝕏 that the journal’s homepage in Scopus had been compromised and was redirecting users to a fraudulent website masquerading as the legitimate publication. 

Despite this revelation, the journal’s editorial team remained unresponsive, neglecting to issue any warnings to authors about the deceptive clone. In December 2023, Scopus took action, removing links to the homepage of the publication in an effort to combat hijacking.

Continue reading The wolf in Scopus’ clothing: Another hijacked journal has indexed nearly 900 articles

Weekend reads: A ‘star botanist’ has a retraction; the ‘bizarro world of law reviews’; AI and fake papers

Would you consider a donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work?

The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up past 400. There are more than 49,000 retractions in The Retraction Watch Database — which is now part of Crossref. The Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker now contains more than 250 titles. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers? What about The Retraction Watch Mass Resignations List — or our list of nearly 100 papers with evidence they were written by ChatGPT?

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

Continue reading Weekend reads: A ‘star botanist’ has a retraction; the ‘bizarro world of law reviews’; AI and fake papers

How you can help improve the visibility of retractions: Introducing NISO’s Recommended Practice for Communication of Retractions, Removals, and Expressions of Concern (CREC)

Maria Zalm

Despite their retracted status, problematic articles that present unreliable information, critical errors, non-reproducible results, or fabricated data frequently continue to be propagated in the scholarly literature through continued citations. There are good reasons for citing retracted work, for example to critically discuss the information presented in the article, or in studies pertaining to the field of research integrity. 

However, in the majority of cases, retracted publications continue to be cited as if the retraction had not occurred. In studies of the citation of retracted publications, only between 5% and 20% of citations acknowledge the retracted status of the article or are critical of the article. A lack of awareness of the retracted status of a publication may be a significant contributing factor to the perpetuation of citing the article after the retraction event occurred. 

Previous research has found that the fact an article has been retracted is often inconsistently displayed across different resources, creating challenges for authors seeking out articles to refine their research questions, develop their approaches, or contextualize their findings. The continued citation and inclusion of retracted work without appropriate discussion or acknowledgement of its retracted status in subsequent studies, poses a direct threat to the reliability of the published literature and the overall trust in research and scholarship.

Continue reading How you can help improve the visibility of retractions: Introducing NISO’s Recommended Practice for Communication of Retractions, Removals, and Expressions of Concern (CREC)

Elsevier withdraws plagiarized paper after original author calls journal out on LinkedIn

Sasan Sadrizadeh

In late May, one of Sasan Sadrizadeh’s doctoral students stumbled upon a paper with data directly plagiarized from his previous work. 

Sadrizadeh, a researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, was the last author on “Supply-demand side management of a building energy system driven by solar and biomass in Stockholm: A smart integration with minimal cost and emission,” published in September 2023 in Energy Conversion and Management.

The paper with matching data, “Optimizing smart building energy systems for sustainable living: A realistic approach to enhance renewable energy consumfaption [sic] and reduce emissions in residential buildings,” appeared online as an “article in press” in Elsevier’s Energy and Buildings in May. 

Continue reading Elsevier withdraws plagiarized paper after original author calls journal out on LinkedIn

‘A threat to the integrity of scientific publishing’: How often are retracted papers marked that way?

Caitlin Bakker

How well do databases flag retracted articles?

There has been a lot of interest recently in the quality of retraction notices and notifications, including new guidelines from the National Information Standards Organization (NISO; our Ivan Oransky was a member of the committee) and a new study which Ivan and our Alison Abritis joined.

In another new paper, “Identification of Retracted Publications and Completeness of Retraction Notices in Public Health,” a group of researchers set out to study “how clearly and consistently retracted publications in public health are being presented to researchers.”

Spoiler alert: Not very.

We asked corresponding author Caitlin Bakker, of the University of Regina — who also chaired the NISO committee — some questions about the findings and their implications.

Continue reading ‘A threat to the integrity of scientific publishing’: How often are retracted papers marked that way?