Retraction Watch readers, we really need your help

Dear Retraction Watch readers:

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.

Whether you fall into one of those categories or another, we need your help. Continue reading Retraction Watch readers, we really need your help

Sturgeon researcher nets 13 retractions for fake peer review

A fish scientist in Iran has now lost 13 papers about the properties of Sturgeon sperm — try saying that five times fast — and other ichthyological topics over concerns about faked peer review.

The three most recent retractions come from the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. According to the notice:

Continue reading Sturgeon researcher nets 13 retractions for fake peer review

Caught Our Notice: A team from Harvard, Cornell, Cambridge, HHMI, and UCSF can’t reproduce a paper’s findings

What Caught Our Attention: Any time there’s an issue with a paper co-authored by researchers from such high-profile institutions as Harvard, Cornell, and the University of Cambridge, we take notice. In this case, the group — which included Laurie Glimcher, then-dean at Cornell, now president of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute — chose to retract a 2013 paper from a Cell journal after learning they couldn’t reproduce some of the experiments. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: A team from Harvard, Cornell, Cambridge, HHMI, and UCSF can’t reproduce a paper’s findings

Weekend reads: How to get away with scientific fraud; what’s wrong with nutrition research; a second chance after misconduct

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 a collaboration with Undark looking at how scientists who commit fraud slip through the cracks, the story of a former cancer researcher who used her own blood 98 times instead of collecting that of study participants, and the puzzle of what took more than five years for papers by the world’s most prolific scientific fraudster to be retracted. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: How to get away with scientific fraud; what’s wrong with nutrition research; a second chance after misconduct

Caught Our Notice: Hey peer reviewers — did you even read this paper??

What Caught Our Attention: A tree of life paper has been axed — and based on the information in the retraction notice, we’re wondering how it ever passed peer review.

Specifically, the notice states a review of the paper found “concerns regarding the study design, methodology, and interpretation of the data.” Overall, the research “contradict(s) a large body of existing literature and do(es) not provide a sufficient level of evidence to support the claims made in the paper.” Um, so what did it get right?

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Hey peer reviewers — did you even read this paper??

What took more than five years? Elsevier retracts 20 papers by world’s most prolific fraudster

In 2012, investigations found that researcher Yoshitaka Fujii had fabricated well in excess of 100 papers, and recommended scores of retractions. Yet years later, publishers are still cleaning the literature of his problematic work.  

For anyone not familiar the Fujii case: After researchers raised concerns about Fujii’s work, an anesthesiologist used statistical tools to determine the odds the results were likely to have come from actual experiments. The answer: infinitesimally small. (For more on Fujii’s “dramatic fall from grace,” check out this in-depth Nautilus article published by our co-founders in 2015.)

Over the last several months, four journals — three published by Elsevier, one by Springer — have retracted 21 papers by Fujii. Seventeen retractions stem from one journalClinical Therapeutics.

Twelve of the retractions are accompanied by the following text: Continue reading What took more than five years? Elsevier retracts 20 papers by world’s most prolific fraudster

Journal says it will correct three papers by prominent psychologist for duplication

Some heavy criticism of a high-profile scientist has prompted one journal to announce it plans to correct the record.

Following a series of allegations about the work of psychologist Robert Sternberg at Cornell, a journal has declared it plans to correct three of his papers. Last month, Inside Higher Ed reported that critics have raised concerns about Sternberg’s practice of citing his own work, prompting him to resign from his position as editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science. On the heels of that, graduate student Brendan O’Connor took to Twitter to accuse Sternberg of recycling his own text in his papers — and last Friday, the Journal of Creative Behavior told O’Connor it was correcting three of Sternberg’s papers.

In an email to O’Connor — who we interviewed this month about his concerns regarding Sternberg’s work — the journal says it will publish three “Text Recycling Corrections & Notifications” to three articles O’Connor flagged, which will:

Continue reading Journal says it will correct three papers by prominent psychologist for duplication

Survey says: A researcher wasn’t sure if he needed to correct a paper. So he created a poll.

Craig Jones

When geophysicist Craig Jones realized a figure in one of his published papers contained an error, he was on the fence about what to do. It was a clear mistake, but he’d seen much larger mistakes go uncorrected by other authors. Unsure if it warranted a correction, Jones polled readers of his blog to see what they thought.

The answer: 37 people responded, 23 of whom (62%) said he should correct the paper. In an update, Jones said he was prepping a correction to submit to the journal.

Jones, who is based at the University of Colorado Boulder and blogs under the title the “Grumpy Geophysicist,” told Retraction Watch:

Continue reading Survey says: A researcher wasn’t sure if he needed to correct a paper. So he created a poll.

A cancer researcher said she collected blood from 98 people. It was all her own.

A researcher collected her own blood and forged the labels so it would appear to be samples from nearly 100 people, according to a new finding of research misconduct released today by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

The former researcher at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center swapped her own blood samples for those taken from 98 human subjects. The misconduct affects two grant progress reports and two papers; one paper has already been retracted, and the former “research interviewer” — Maria Cristina Miron Elqutub — has agreed to correct or retract the other.

Adel El-Naggar, a co-author on both of the papers also based at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, told Retraction Watch:

Continue reading A cancer researcher said she collected blood from 98 people. It was all her own.

Mount Sinai multiple sclerosis researcher admits to misconduct

Gareth John

A researcher who has received millions in funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and who runs a lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York has confessed to falsifying data in a 2014 paper.

Gareth John, who studies multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases, “has expressed remorse for his actions,” according to a report released last week from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity. Continue reading Mount Sinai multiple sclerosis researcher admits to misconduct

A former employee admitted to scientific misconduct. His new institution likely doesn’t know. What should you do?

A few years ago, Richard Miller of the University of Michigan had a serious dilemma: He discovered a former researcher in his lab was doing research somewhere else. Normally, that would be fine — except this research had admitted to committing misconduct in Miller’s lab.

Should he tell the researcher’s new employer? Continue reading A former employee admitted to scientific misconduct. His new institution likely doesn’t know. What should you do?