Editor of Medical Journal of Australia fired after criticizing decision to outsource to Elsevier

Stephen Leeder
Stephen Leeder

Public health expert Stephen Leeder has been ousted as editor of Australia’s top medical journal after he questioned the decision to outsource the journal’s production and other tasks to publishing giant Elsevier.

Leeder, emeritus professor at the University of Sydney, told the Medical Observer he was asked to leave when he and the journal’s publisher, AMPCo, couldn’t see eye to eye on the decision:

Continue reading Editor of Medical Journal of Australia fired after criticizing decision to outsource to Elsevier

NIH neuroscientist loses second paper, again the result of first author misconduct

Stanley Rapoport. Source: NIH
Stanley Rapoport. Source: NIH

Stanley Rapoport, a neuroscientist in the National Institute on Aging, isn’t having a lot of luck with his first authors. One committed misconduct and cost him a paper in the journal Age last year, and now he’s lost another paper with a different first author, but for the exact same reason.

The latest paper, in Neurochemical Research, examined whether chronic doses of aspirin reduce brain inflammation. It has been cited 14 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s more from the note: Continue reading NIH neuroscientist loses second paper, again the result of first author misconduct

Misconduct earns researcher a five-year ban on federal funding

ori logoUniversity of Minnesota former chemistry graduate student has been banned from receiving federal funding for five years based on “a preponderance of the evidence that the Respondent intentionally and knowingly engaged in research misconduct.”

Venkata J. Reddy appears to have manipulated findings in one R01 grant application. In recent years, bans are less common than having research supervised. What’s also unusual is that the sanction appeared to have begun two years ago, in 2013, because it lifts August 26, 2018. The report, which is scheduled to published tomorrow in the Federal Register, says the debarment has a “joint jurisdiction,” suggesting another agency may be involved. [See first update at end of post.]

According to the ORI notice, Reddy “intentionally and knowingly engaged in research misconduct by falsifying and/or fabricating data that was provided to his mentor” for an R01 application to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). More specifically: Continue reading Misconduct earns researcher a five-year ban on federal funding

Does peer review ferret out the best science? New study tries to answer

scienceGrant reviewers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health are doing a pretty good job of spotting the best proposals and ranking them appropriately, according to a new study in Science out today.

Danielle Li at Harvard and Leila Agha at Boston University found that grant proposals that earn good scores lead to research that is more cited, more published, and published in high-impact journals. These findings were upheld even when they controlled for notoriously confounding factors, such as the applicant’s institutional quality, gender, history of funding and experience, and field.

Taking all those factors into consideration, grant scores that were 1 standard deviation lower (10.17 points, in the analysis) led to research that earned 15% fewer citations and 7% fewer papers, along with 19% fewer papers in top journals.

Li tells Retraction Watch that, while some scientists may not be surprised by these findings, previous research has suggested there isn’t much of a correlation between grant scores and outcomes:

Continue reading Does peer review ferret out the best science? New study tries to answer

“Super-surgeon” Macchiarini not guilty of misconduct, per one Karolinska investigation

Paolo Macchiarini
Paolo Macchiarini

Surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who is under investigation for allegedly downplaying dangers of an experimental surgery, has been cleared of some misconduct allegations by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Macchiarini, a thoracic surgeon, has made headlines for repairing damaged airways using tracheas from cadavers and even synthetic tracheas, both treated with the patients’ own stem cells to assist in the transplant.

In a letter to Vice-Chancellor Anders Hamsten dated last month, KI’s Ethics Council refuted a number of accusations leveled against Macchiarini by Pierre Delaere at KU Leuven in Belgium, who had suggested the surgeon had engaged in scientific misconduct, including fabricating data.

The Ethics Council, however, disagreed:

Continue reading “Super-surgeon” Macchiarini not guilty of misconduct, per one Karolinska investigation

Judge tells PubPeer to hand over information about anonymous commenter; site weighing “options”

pubpeerA Michigan judge has ruled against a motion by PubPeer to protect the identity of an anonymous commenter, and asked the post-publication peer review site to give her any information they have about the commenter.

According to one of the lawyers present, the site said in court the only identifying information it has is an I.P. address. The judge will decide March 24 (Tuesday) whether or not to share the I.P. address with the lawyer representing a cancer researcher who has demanded PubPeer release information about those who have written anonymously about his work.

On March 5, PubPeer had a better day in court, when the judge agreed to allow the site to protect the identities of its other anonymous commenters. For the remaining commenter, the judge asked to hold another hearing yesterday.

During that meeting, the judge ordered PubPeer to produce “identifying information for that commenter,” said Alexander Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union, who helped represent PubPeer in this case: Continue reading Judge tells PubPeer to hand over information about anonymous commenter; site weighing “options”

Troubled article ranking business schools earns expression of concern

jpimAn article that ranked University of Missouri-Kansas City number one in an area of business school training is set to receive an expression of concern. The move follows months of questions over the ranking’s legitimacy, following revelations such as a relationship between the authors and both the school and its top ranked researcher in the field.

In 2011, the business world got a bit of a surprise: In the field of innovation management, the study of how entrepreneurs convert good ideas into profit, the number one school – according to an article in the Journal of Product Innovation Management — was UMKC. Not Harvard, not Stanford, not any other institution that normally tops these types of rankings. UMKC’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management was also home to the number one researcher in that field, Michael Song.

The school, of course, was elated, immediately issuing a press release titled “UMKC Ranked No. 1 in the World.”

But after publication, a UMKC professor raised concerns about the paper’s methodology. An investigation by the Kansas City Star uncovered some issues:

Continue reading Troubled article ranking business schools earns expression of concern

Yes, we are seeing more attacks on academic freedom: guest post by historian of science and medicine

Alice Dreger2We’re pleased to introduce readers to Alice Dreger, a historian of science and medicine at the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program in Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Her new book is “Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science,” out this week from Penguin Press. Read to the end for a chance to win a free copy.

The good news: Policy makers and the public seem to be increasingly taking scientific research seriously. The bad news? People who don’t like researchers’ findings seem to be increasingly coming after researchers and their universities. And some of those people are powerful.

Technically, your university is supposed to protect your academic freedom. In my own university’s faculty handbook, academic freedom is the first topic discussed. But as I’ve learned from my own personal experiences, as well as from eight years studying the experiences of other researchers who have gotten into political hot water, your administration may not always have your back. Continue reading Yes, we are seeing more attacks on academic freedom: guest post by historian of science and medicine

Judge rules most of PubPeer’s commenters can remain anonymous

Falzul Sarkar
Falzul Sarkar

PubPeer won a near-complete victory in a Michigan court today.

A judge has agreed to allow the site to protect the identities of all but one of its anonymous commenters, after a cancer researcher demanded the site release the names of those who have critiqued his papers.

For one of the comments on the site, the judge has asked to hold another hearing on March 19.

After the work of Fazlul Sarkar of Wayne State University appeared on the post-publication peer review site, he wasn’t happy about it. In October, he sued the site’s commenters, demanding that PubPeer release the names of his accusers. Sarkar, who has not been found to have committed research misconduct, claims he lost a lucrative job offer at the University of Mississippi as a result of the posts.

In December, PubPeer’s attorneys asked the judge to dismiss the motion; today, Hon. Sheila Ann Gibson of the Wayne County Circuit Court agreed to do so for all but one comment.

Alexander Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union, who represented PubPeer in this case, told Retraction Watch: Continue reading Judge rules most of PubPeer’s commenters can remain anonymous

David Vaux: Nature’s decision to add double-blind peer review is good, but could be better

David Vaux, a cell biologist at the Walter + Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, explains how Nature could do more to remove bias from the peer review process. He previously wrote about his decision to retract a paper.

vaux
David Vaux

Last week, Nature announced that they are to offer authors of papers submitted to Nature or the monthly Nature research journals the option of having their manuscripts assessed by double-blind peer review, in which reviewers are blinded to the identity of authors and their institutions. Until now, papers sent to Nature, and most other journals, have been reviewed by a single-blind process, in which the reviewers know the identities and affiliations of the authors, but the authors are not told who the reviewers are. The goal of double-blind peer review is for submitted papers to be judged on their scientific merit alone, and thus to reduce publication bias.

While Nature should be applauded for this move, the way they have implemented it leaves room for improvement.

Continue reading David Vaux: Nature’s decision to add double-blind peer review is good, but could be better