A few years ago, you may remember some news headlines discussing a study that suggested people — especially men — are more likely to cheat if their spouses earn more money. Well, it turns out those findings are less convincing than they initially appeared. But they’re not getting retracted.
In a six-page correction notice, author Christin Munsch at the University of Connecticut explains that she made “several errors related to the coding of missing data,” which weakened most of her conclusions in the original paper.
The paper earned some attention from mainstream news outlets. For example, in 2015, The Washington Post wrote:
Many publishers have been duped by fake peer reviews, which have brought down more than 600 papers to date. But some continue to get fooled.
Recently, SAGE retracted 10 papers published as part of two special collections in Advances in Mechanical Engineering after discovering the peer review process that had been managed by the guest editors “did not meet the journal’s usual rigorous standards.” After a new set of reviewers looked over the collections, they determined 10 papers included “technical errors,” and the content “did not meet the journal’s required standard of scientific validity.”
Yeah, we’re not exactly sure what happened here, either. SAGE gave us a little extra clarity — but not much.
After he left Liverpool, Antoine took a position at the University of Edinburgh. However, the faculty page is now blank, and a spokesperson told Retraction Watch he is “no longer employed by the University”:
What happened appears to be a case of “he said, she said:” Littman asked to retract the paper after his lab couldn’t reproduce it, and Huang insists the data remain correct, saying the process had been “unfair and done without due process:”
When the journal issued expressions of concern for four papers co-authored by José Ignacio Rodriguez-Crespo about the allegations (which had also been raised on PubPeer), it notified his institution, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM). The newly issued correction notices explain that UCM investigated the four papers, and the data support the results and conclusions. In two cases, the authors supplied the original data, and in the others, they replicated the experiments.
Rodriguez-Crespo declined to comment, saying only that the journal
Is open peer review the future? The EMBO Journal has offered it since 2009. eLife offers it. They’re not alone, although they’re still in the minority (a fact Irene Hames wishes would change). Elsevier, one of the world’s largest publishers, has tried a pilot of it, too, so we thought it would be worth finding out what happened. We spoke to Bahar Mehmani, Elsevier’s lead for reviewer experience, about the project, and lessons learned.
In a new preprint posted to bioRxiv, image sleuths scanned hundreds of papers published over a seven-year period in Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB), published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The researchers — Arturo Casadevall of Johns Hopkins University, Elisabeth Bik of uBiome, Ferric Fang of the University of Washington (also on the board of directors of our parent non-profit organization), Roger Davis of the University of Massachusetts (and former MCB editor), and Amy Kullas, ASM’s publication ethics manager — found 59 potentially problematic papers, of which five were retracted. Extrapolating from these findings and those of another paper that scanned duplication rates, the researchers propose that tens of thousands of papers might need to be purged from the literature. That 35,000 figure is double the amount of retractions we’ve tallied so far in our database, which goes back to the 1970s. We spoke with the authors about their findings — and how to prevent bad images from getting published in the first place.
Retraction Watch: You found 59 potential instances of inappropriate duplication — how did you define this, and validate that the images were problematic?
The University of Gothenburg has requested the dismissal of a researcher who has been found guilty of scientific misconduct in seven articles.
The researcher, Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, is “guilty of research misconduct through intentional fabrication, falsification or suppression of basic material and deliberately abandoning good scientific practice in seven of the reviewed articles,” according to a press release from the University of Gothenburg (GU). Sumitran-Holgersson continues to insist any issues were the result of “unfortunate errors,” not misconduct.
As a consequence, GU vice-chancellor Eva Wiberg has:
As many readers know, even after a paper’s retracted, it will continue to be cited — often by researchers who don’t realize the findings are problematic. But when, and in what context, do those citations occur? In a recent paper in Scientometrics, Judit Bar-Ilan of Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Gali Haleviat Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York examine what happened to nearly 1,000 retracted papers over time, including how long it took to pull them, and when and how often they continue to be cited. We spoke with Bar-Ilan and Halevi about what worries them about their findings — and why they believe Elsevier could help fix the problem.
Retraction Watch: As you note, there have been a number of studies of retractions. What do you hope this study contributes?