Exclusive: Russian site says it has brokered authorships for more than 10,000 researchers

Want to be a first author on a scholarly paper? A Russian company has you covered — starting at about $500. The company claims to have added the names of more than 10,000 researchers to more than 2,000 published articles in scholarly journals over the past three years. Think eBay — or perhaps StubHub — for unscrupulous scientists. 

Although we can’t verify the numbers, at least one major journal indexer, from whom we recently learned of the scheme, is concerned enough about the site that it has demanded that it stop doing business. 

According to the Russian outfit’s site (through Google Translate): 

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No delight for Turkish surgeon in authorship dispute over case study

A surgeon in Turkey has won a court case in which he argued that he deserved to be named in  a list of authors from his institution who’d published a paper. But even that doesn’t appear to have satisfied the aggrieved medic, as you’ll see. 

The article, “Late onset traumatic diaphragmatic herniation leading to intestinal obstruction and pancreatitis: two separate cases,” was written by a group from the Department of General Surgery at Ankara Numune Training and Research Hospital. The list of authors comprised Tolga Dinc, Selami Ilgaz Kayilioglu and Faruk Coskun … but not Baris Yildiz, a colleague in the department. 

The paper appeared in Case Reports in Emergency Medicine, a Hindawi title, which has issued a rather byzantine expression of concern about the article: 

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Blood pulls deceased star oncologist’s paper after Stanford inquiry

Blood has retracted a 2011 article by a now-deceased Stanford researcher, Holbrook Kohrt,  who earlier this month lost two other papers over concerns about the whereabouts of the data. 

The journal’s move comes about a week after Retraction Watch posted a story on the previous retractions, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), of Kohrt’s work. As we noted then, Kohrt was a superstar young faculty member who died in 2016 of complications of hemophilia. He was the subject of this 2013 profile in the New York Times, which also wrote an obituary of him. 

The Blood paper was titled “CD137 stimulation enhances the antilymphoma activity of anti-CD20 antibodies.” The paper has been cited 148 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

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Cancer specialists in Mexico earn third retraction following questions about their data

Cases of cancers seen at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, according to researcher Agustin Avilés

A group of cancer researchers in Mexico has lost their third paper over concerns about the integrity of their data. 

Neither the new retraction, in the journal Hematology, nor the previous two, cite misconduct as the reason for the removals. However, the statements do refer to lack of reliability of results,  “ambiguities and inconsistencies” in the findings and other serious issues. 

The first author on each paper is Agustin Avilés, whom the Hematology article listed as being with the National Medical Center in Mexico City. 

According to the retraction notice

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Chemistry researcher who studies oil wells is up to seven retractions

via Wikipedia

A chemistry researcher in India is up to seven retractions and one correction for problematic images and other issues. 

The researcher, Mahendra Yadav, was the first author on an article titled “Corrosion inhibition of tubing steel during acidization of oil and gas wells,” which appeared in 2013 in the Journal of Petroleum Engineering (JPE). Yadav, who also has a correction for similar concerns, and who has a fairly extensive entry in PubPeer, is listed as being affiliated with the Department of Applied Chemistry at the Indian School of Mines, in Dhanbad. 

According to the notice

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Stanford calling for retractions of work by deceased star cancer researcher

The Journal of Clinical Investigation has retracted two papers from the lab of one of Stanford University’s most prominent cancer researchers over concerns about the integrity of the data. 

The articles, published in 2012 and 2014, described work on ways of priming the immune system to enhance the activity of drugs to fight cancer. 

The first author on the two articles was Holbrook “Brook” Kohrt, a superstar young faculty member who died in 2016 of complications of hemophilia. Kohrt was the subject of this 2013 profile in the New York Times, which also wrote an obituary of him. 

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The first rule of Fight Club is … you do not republish Fight Club

Another Brad Pitt boxing

A pair of therapists has lost a paper in Sage Open because they’d previously published the article in another journal (more on that in a bit). 

The article, “Bridging the gap between theory and practice with film: How to use Fight Club to teach existential counseling theory and techniques,” appeared in 2013. The authors were Katarzyna Peoples, a counselor at Walden University, and Stephanie Helsel, a therapist whose LinkedIn page lists her as an adjunct professor at Waynesburg University in Pennsylvania. The two appear to have connected at Duquesne University, where each received her doctoral degrees. 

Here’s the gist of the article

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Catholic medical journal pulls paper on conversion therapy over statistical problems

via Flickr

The journal for a religious medical group is retracting a paper that supported the discredited practice of conversion therapy for homosexuals over concerns about the statistical analyses — or lack thereof — in the research.

The paper, “Effects of therapy on religious men who have unwanted same-sex attraction,” was published last year in The Linacre Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association. (According to its website: “LQR explores issues at the interface of medicine and religion, focusing on bioethics and also exploring medical topics which have an ethical dimension.)

So, what were those effects? Pretty darn good, according to the article. Per the abstract:

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Public health journal retracts paper on austerity for “inaccurate and misleading results”

A protest against austerity policies

The American Journal of Public Health has retracted a controversial 2018 paper on the effects of economic austerity in Spain because it contained “inaccurate and misleading” results linking  those policies to a massive spike in premature deaths.

The journal also has published a second piece, by a different group of authors, refuting the central claim of the now-retracted paper. Whereas the first article asserted that austerity in Spain during the mid-2000s led to more than 500,000 excess deaths, the new research says deaths in the country slowed during the country’s economic crisis.

The flawed article, “Austerity policies and mortality in Spain after the financial crisis of 2008,” was written by a group of researchers at the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, on the Canary Islands. The authors claimed that their analysis of the years 2011 to 2015 showed that:

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Study of a “nudge” to use hand sanitizer retracted

Image by Adriano Gadini from Pixabay

A group of researchers in the United States and China have retracted their 2018 paper on hand hygiene, admitting that they can’t account for “data anomalies” in their work.

The article in question, “The decoy effect as a nudge: Boosting hand hygiene with a worse option,” appeared in Psychological Science last May. Led by Meng Li, of the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, the researchers reported results from experiments designed to increase the use of hand sanitizer in the workplace through the use of a “decoy” bottle:

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