In a first, U.S. CDC retracts, replaces study about suicide risk in farmers

In a first for the CDC, the agency’s premier scientific publication has retracted a 2016 article on suicide, five months after a news story pointed out serious errors in the paper.

The article, initially published as “Suicide Rates by Occupational Group — 17 States, 2012,” had purported to find that farmers were at particularly high risk of suicide. That result in particular caught the attention of a website called The New Food Economy (TNFE), which last June called out what it said were errors in the CDC’s analysis. And on June 29, the journal, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), issued a reader’s note.

As TNFE wrote, the crux of the mistake involves the misclassification of farmer suicides in a way that significantly inflated the rate of these events — errors the website said it first raised with the CDC in April 2018: Continue reading In a first, U.S. CDC retracts, replaces study about suicide risk in farmers

Former University of Kansas researcher who plagiarized Harvard prof banned from Federal funding for two years

Rakesh Srivastava

A researcher fired from the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in 2014 for plagiarizing the work of a Harvard scientist has been barred from receiving Federal U.S. funding for two years.

The sanctions come three years after the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) tried to impose a three-year ban on funding for Rakesh Srivastava, who appealed the move. In September of this year, Department of Health and Human Services  administrative law judge Keith Sickendick recommended a two-year sanction.

In his decision, Sickendick noted that there was no evidence that Srivastava had engaged in research misconduct other than in this incident, and that he denied adding the plagiarized passages to the grant application himself. (Srivastava, who had also worked at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, is last author on a 2002 retraction from the Journal of Biological Chemistry for plagiarism, but it is unclear who was responsible.)

ORI tells Retraction Watch that it is “pleased that the ALJ upheld its findings.

An ‘Eminent Scholar’

Srivastava — along with his wife, Sharmila Shankar — joined KUMC in 2009 to great fanfare: Continue reading Former University of Kansas researcher who plagiarized Harvard prof banned from Federal funding for two years

A convicted felon writes a paper on hotly debated diets. What could go wrong?

Richard Fleming

Pro-tip for journals and publishers: When you decide to publish a paper about a subject — say, diets — that you know will draw a great deal of scrutiny from vocal proponents of alternatives, make sure it’s as close to airtight as possible.

And in the event that the paper turns out not to be so airtight, write a retraction notice that’s not vague and useless.

Oh, and make sure the lead author of said study isn’t a convicted felon who pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud.

If only we were describing a hypothetical. Continue reading A convicted felon writes a paper on hotly debated diets. What could go wrong?

Weekend reads: A debate over journal editors; academic corruption in China; a poisoning in a lab

Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance.

The week at Retraction Watch featured the retraction and replacement of a paper on whether gun control laws are linked to domestic violence, a call for more transparency from universities, and developments in a lawsuit by a researcher who has faced misconduct allegations. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: A debate over journal editors; academic corruption in China; a poisoning in a lab

Judge dismisses most of Carlo Croce’s libel case against the New York Times

Carlo Croce

Carlo Croce, a prolific cancer researcher at The Ohio State University in Columbus who was the subject of a front page story in The New York Times last year about allegations of misconduct against him, has had most of a lawsuit he filed against the newspaper thrown out.

As first reported by Courthouse News Service, United States District Judge James Graham tossed all but one of Croce’s claims for defamation against the Times and two of its reporters. That claim — which involved a statement in a letter that reporter James Glanz sent Croce as part of his reporting — survived dismissal, but not on grounds that it inflicted emotional distress, Graham ruled.

The March 2017 story ran on the front page of the Times under the headline “Years of Ethics Charges, but Star Cancer Researcher Gets a Pass:” Continue reading Judge dismisses most of Carlo Croce’s libel case against the New York Times

It’s time to end the code of silence at universities

Brian Wansink

Yesterday, Cornell University told a group of researchers who had petitioned them to release a report of their investigation into alleged misconduct by Brian Wansink, a food marketing researcher who recently resigned his post there, that they would not release that report. As BuzzFeed reports, the university is now conducting a “Phase II” investigation into Wansink’s work. (It’s unclear what a “Phase II” investigation refers to; we’ve asked the university to clarify.)

Unfortunately, Cornell’s lack of transparency about the case puts them in the majority. Here’s a piece by our two co-founders, Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, about why this veil of secrecy needs to be lifted.

For more than a decade, Cornell University’s Brian Wansink was a king in the world of nutrition. He published his findings — on everything from why small plates make us eat less to the behavior of obese people at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets — in top-tier journals and garnered media coverage in prestigious newspapers. His work even formed the basis of U.S. dietary guidelines.

But Wansink’s fortune cookie has crumbled. In September, he resigned in disgrace from Cornell. He has now lost 15 papers to retraction — one, twice — and the university found him guilty of committing research misconduct. Continue reading It’s time to end the code of silence at universities

Data mishap forces retraction of paper on gun laws, domestic killings

The authors of a 2018 paper on the effects of gun laws on domestic violence have retracted the article after discovering errors in their analysis and replaced it with a clean version. The new study shows that some gun laws — particularly ones that keep firearms out of the hands of violent offenders, even if their offenses don’t involve domestic assaults — do seem to reduce the incidence of domestic killings.

The paper, which appeared last November in the American Journal of Epidemiology and received some press coverage, including this piece in the New York Times, looked specifically at whether laws that keep guns away from people convicted of violent crimes beyond domestic abuse reduce the number of intimate partner homicides. It also considered the effect of laws that covered dating partners and not simply spouses or former spouses. The first author is April Zeoli, of Michigan State University. Zeoli has published other papers on the topic and delivered a TEDMED talk on it as well.

According to the abstract of the article: Continue reading Data mishap forces retraction of paper on gun laws, domestic killings

Weekend reads: Stem cell trial halted; Nazi doctors in the literature; is it OK to cite a paper you haven’t read?

Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance.

The week at Retraction Watch featured the story of how an editor solved a mystery about bad data, a new addition to our leaderboard, and a project designed to identify a common mistake in clinical trials. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: Stem cell trial halted; Nazi doctors in the literature; is it OK to cite a paper you haven’t read?

Former University of Maryland cancer researcher up to 21 retractions

Anil Jaiswal

Anil Jaiswal, who until a year ago was a cancer researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, has had four more papers retracted.

That makes 21 for Jaiswal, who joins our leaderboard of the 30 researchers with the most retractions. All four new retractions appear in journals published by the American Association for Cancer Research, and are for image or data manipulation.

For example, here’s the retraction notice for “Aromatase Inhibitor–mediated Downregulation of INrf2 (Keap1) Leads to Increased Nrf2 and Resistance in Breast Cancer,” in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics: Continue reading Former University of Maryland cancer researcher up to 21 retractions

Aerospace researchers in Japan up to three retractions

Rachid Amrousse

A pair of researchers in Japan has lost their third paper in a UK journal, which cites problematic images and an institutional investigation for the move.

The 2016 article, “Novel Rh-substituted hexaaluminate catalysts for N2O decomposition,” was written by Rachid Amrousse and Akimasa Tsutsumi, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, in Sagamihara. It appeared in Catalysis Society & Technology, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and has been cited seven times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

According to the retraction notice: Continue reading Aerospace researchers in Japan up to three retractions