We hope that you continue to enjoy Retraction Watch, and find it — and our database of retractions — useful. Maybe you’re a researcher who likes keeping up with developments in scientific integrity. Maybe you’re a reporter who has found a story idea in our database, or on the blog. Maybe you’re an ethics instructor who uses the site to find case studies. Or a publisher who uses our blog to screen authors who submit manuscripts — we know at least two who do.
The U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) announced today that a former graduate student committed research misconduct — nearly two years after his institution stripped him of his degree.
The ORI concluded that Shiladitya Sen committed misconduct in a PNAS paper (retracted six months ago), his PhD thesis, a poster presentation, and two grant applications to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Sen has agreed not to seek federal funding for three years.
A spokesperson for The Ohio State University (OSU), where Sen was based, told us its investigation wrapped up in Spring 2016, and Sen’s PhD was revoked that June. It’s not clear why it took two years for the ORI to issue its own finding; the ORI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Last year, chemist Marcus Tius at the University of Hawaii saw a paper describing the synthesis of some organic compounds, and was “struck by the implausibility” of the reported structures. So he joined up with some colleagues to try to replicate the data.
While Tius and his team were trying to repeat the experiment, however, in December 2017 the journal — Organic Letters — retracted the paper. The journal, published by the American Chemical Society, noted that the authors had not been able to produce crystal structures that confirm they had synthesized those compounds in particular. So Tius and his colleagues knew they couldn’t replicate the findings — but carried on their experiment anyway:
A university and medical center have requested a batch of retractions following an investigation that found 20 papers by a cancer researcher contained manipulated images.
The request, from University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) and Birmingham VA Medical Center, focuses on papers by Santosh Katiyar, who explored alternative approaches to treating skin cancer in animal models.
What Caught Our Attention: Last year, a journal retracted a paper about a child who developed a rare complication related to the inherited disorder Gaucher Disease, after realizing it had inadvertently identified the child. It wasn’t an immediately obvious mistake — the authors listed the drugs the patient was taking, and in the case of one drug, there was only one child in the world taking it. For anyone in the know, that would make the child’s identity clear.
So retracting the paper makes sense — but publishing a retraction notice that spells out the issue in detail, including the name of the drug and the fact the patient was the only pediatric recipient, did not. So last month, the Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology corrected the retraction notice, removing the name of the drug. (Phew.)
In 2015, a group of researchers based in Spain decided to write a review article on high blood pressure. But when they looked over eight articles co-authored by the same person, they noticed some undeniable similarities.
Over the last few years, Giuseppe Derosa, based at the University of Pavia in Italy, has racked up 10 retractions after journals determined he’d published the same material multiple times. But there’s much more to this story: The researchers in Spain (led by Luis Carlos Saiz of the Navarre Regional Health Service in Pamplona) kept digging into his publication record, and have since identified dozens of additional potential duplicates. Although the outside researchers alerted journals to the additional potentially problematic papers in 2015, most have not taken action; recently, two journals published by Taylor & Francis flagged 12 of Derosa’s articles, three of which they had been alerted about in 2015 by Saiz and colleagues.
Now, Saiz is telling his story — and why duplication of medical research matters: