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The week at Retraction Watch featured researchers who had Science and Nature papers retracted on the same day; the retraction of a paper that claimed children could be treated with acupuncture on their parents; and a badly handled tweet at PLOS that angered scientists. Here’s what was happening elsewhere:
- “[A] number of countries and institutions are now rewarding researchers based directly on the journals in which they publish, fuelling fears that academia’s unhealthy obsession with publication metrics is worsening.” (Jonathan Owen, ResearchResearch) See our coverage of this issue in Science from 2017.
- Impact factor “is encouraged in [review, promotion, and tenure] RPT evaluations, especially at research-intensive universities, and indicates there is work to be done to improve…” (PeerJ)
- A journal “published a letter to the editor that would end up drawing curse words from urologists and making biomedical executives nervous.” (Eric Boodman, STAT)
- “Some U.S. universities will announce in the next week or two actions they have taken to prevent foreign governments from taking unfair advantage of research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, NIH Director Francis Collins said today,” Jocelyn Kaiser reports at Science. “Some researchers could be fired, Collins suggested.”
- “As they emerge in the press or in watchdog reports, such questionable practices can disturb delicate negotiations concerning the respective roles of communities and academic institutions as well as be perceived by some community members as violations of trust.” (Jo Ann Oravec, Tertiary Education and Management, sub req’d)
- A professor at the University of Kentucky is under investigation for misconduct. (Lexington Herald-Leader) We covered three retractions by the author in October.
- “Elsevier’s Presence on Campuses Spans More Than Journals,” writes Lindsay Ellis. “That Has Some Scholars Worried.” (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
- News coverage of research integrity “largely mirrors debates about integrity and misconduct,” says a new paper. (Science & Engineering Ethics)
- A new study finds “a substantial level of plagiarism via duplicate publications in the three analyzed predatory journals, further diluting credible scientific literature.”
- A bill in Macau says plagiarism will “be punished with imprisonment of up to two years or with a fine of up to 240 days” — more if the original work was unpublished.
- The story of misconduct allegations against Hans-Ulrich Wittchen has taken a strange twist. (Marc Scheloske, Spektrum)
- Is it time to end the requirement to publish dissertations? asks Rob Schlesinger. (The Scholarly Kitchen)
- The replication “crisis” is good for science, says UConn educational psychologist Eric Loken. (The Conversation)
- “It took more than 18 months for the specialist journal PLOS Biology to publish the reply to Birbaumer’s publication.” A letter casts doubt on a study of “mind-reading” by one of Germany’s most prominent scientists. (Patrick Illinger, Till Krause and Patrick Bauer, Süddeutsche Zeitung)
- A researcher in India who faces plagiarism allegations says they are just retribution for his complaints of harassment and discrimination. (Eram Agha, News18) Later: “The board of governors of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, on Tuesday decided not to revoke the PhD degree of an assistant professor who is facing allegations of plagiarism but decided to get his thesis examined by an independent committee of experts.” (
- “Her story illustrates a long-standing bias in cancer research: most studies and genetic databases are populated mainly by data from people of European descent.” (Heidi Ledford, Nature)
- “While journals generally handle failures to disclose conflicts of interest with corrections, rather than retractions, guidelines may be a special case that publishers should think long and hard about.”
- OMICS “is still marketing junky science conferences in Montreal and Toronto this month despite a US judge’s order to stop” deceptive practices.
- Did you know that Isaac Asimov once submitted a hoax paper? Yes, the story is true, says the Futility Closet blog.
- Some people will do anything to avoid being a bridesmaid. (Mary Jo Podgurski, Observer-Reporter)
- “Our lab eventually shut down, and our principal investigator wasfound to have falsified data on grant applications.” (Mary A. Allen, Nature)
- A new measure “strongly relates to burnout and could also be beneficial for policy makers and research institutions to assess the degree of publication pressure in their institute.” (Research Integrity and Peer Review)
- Stephen Locke, former editor of the BMJ, “became concerned about [research fraud] in the 80s when most scientific authorities thought it unimportant—because it hardly ever happened, never harmed anybody, and didn’t matter because science is self-correcting (all of which are wrong).” (Richard Smith, The BMJ, on Locke’s 90th birthday)
- “Journal editors are well within their rights to disregard the recommendations of referees or to disagree with their ultimate assessments. Journal editors may also decide not to share referee reports with authors, or not to share them in full. But what they should not do, out of respect for both their referees and authors, is unilaterally revise the content of a referee report to make it support their independent decision.” (Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports)
- If you need a copy editor for your retraction notices, we can make some suggestions, Elsevier.
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