Irony alert: Shades of plagiarism undo med ethics paper on terminal care

With some conservatives fulminating over President Obama’s eternal lust for “death panels,” we have our own case of end-of-life outrage to report.

BMC Medical Ethics has retracted a November 2010 paper by two authors from Mayo Clinic whose manuscript — “End-of-life discontinuation of destination therapy with cardiac and ventilatory support medical devices: physician-assisted death or allowing the patient to die?” — contained passages that closely echoed those in another article, “Moral fictions and medical ethics,” published online in July 2009 in the journal Bioethics.

According to the retraction notice: Continue reading Irony alert: Shades of plagiarism undo med ethics paper on terminal care

Update on Small retraction: Co-author says failed follow-up led to detection of tech’s fraud

We have a little more information on the lab-tech case out of the University of Chicago that we reported on last week. A brief summary: The journal Small retracted a 2007 paper on a method of producing insulin-secreting cells after one of the co-authors, a technician named Matthew Connors, was found to have fabricated a key figure. Connors has had a long career as a lab tech and his name has appeared on several published articles.

Reached by e-mail, Milan Mrksich, a chemistry professor at Chicago and a co-author of the retracted paper– as well as an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute — told us that the fraud surfaced during follow-up research: Continue reading Update on Small retraction: Co-author says failed follow-up led to detection of tech’s fraud

Japanese virologist hit with publishing ban after widespread data manipulation

A leading Japanese virologist has received a 10-year publishing ban from the American Society of Microbiology after many of his published articles were found to have evidence of data manipulation.

In its January 2011 issue, Infection and Immunity, an ASM title, is retracting five articles by the researcher, Naoki Mori, of the University of Ryukyus in Okinawa. The articles, published between 2000 and 2009, involve work on Helicobacter pylori which Nori conducted with co-authors from the United States and elsewhere. Some of the studies listed co-authors from drug companies, including Merck and Boehringer Ingelheim, although it’s not clear whether the companies helped support any of the research.

Despite the impending holidays, Ferric Fang, editor of Infection and Immunity, graciously and quickly replied to our request for comment yesterday (as he has before, about another paper in Nature involving fraud): Continue reading Japanese virologist hit with publishing ban after widespread data manipulation

Small problem: Nano-micro journal pulls diabetes paper with phony figure

Readers of this blog are aware that many of the retractions we’ve covered involve the misadventures of post-docs. That makes some superficial sense: post-docs, after all, are trainees, and therefore might be more likely to make mistakes. They’re also hungry to break into their chosen specialty, and how better to do that than by producing spectacular results? (None of this is to say that post-docs are by nature incompetent or venal — only that the raw ingredients exist for typecast villainy.)

But one figure about whom we haven’t written (to the best of our knowledge) is the career lab tech — until today.

Matthew Connors was working as a tech at the University of Chicago (Chief Research Technologist, on his online resume) when he became a co-author on a 2007 study, published in the journal Small, purporting to show a technique for encapsulating pancreatic islet cells in a coating that’s opaque to the immune system. As the researchers explained: Continue reading Small problem: Nano-micro journal pulls diabetes paper with phony figure

Obfuscation watch: Self-plagiarism (we think) leads to retraction of nanorod paper in Applied Physics Letters

C. P. Snow famously bemoaned the gulf between science and the humanities. The following retraction might be the sort of thing that would have given the physicist-cum-author fits for its estrangement from the English language.

Writing in the latest issue of Applied Physics Letters, a team from China Singapore and MIT appear to be confessing a case of self-plagiarism in their 2005 paper, “Growth of single crystal ZnO nanorods on GaN using an aqueous solution method: (we added a link to the earlier paper)” Continue reading Obfuscation watch: Self-plagiarism (we think) leads to retraction of nanorod paper in Applied Physics Letters

Boldt under investigation for drug trial death

As we’ve previously reported, German anesthesiologist Joachim Boldt has been under investigation for apparent misdeeds — including lack of proper informed consent and possible data fabrication — that led to the retraction earlier this year of an article in Anesthesia & Analgesia. We’ve just learned that Boldt also has drawn scrutiny from German prosecutors for his role in a clinical trial earlier in the decade that led to the death of one patient and the near-death of another.

According to an article in the Weinheimer Nachrichten, that incident occurred when Boldt was at the University Hospital Giessen. Officials there told us there was an investigation into the matter but declined to comment further.

Here’s Google’s translation of the Weinheimer Nachrichten piece: Continue reading Boldt under investigation for drug trial death

Penalties for early withdrawal: irked CONSORT Group authors

Premature withdrawal can lead to frustration and hurt feelings — especially when it comes to publications (please, this is a family-friendly site).

Two cases in point: We recently learned that the International Journal of Surgery, an Elsevier title, had withdrawn two papers from the CONSORT group — an acronym for Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials — an international team of scientists who have been working on ways to improve the reporting of studies.

In 2008, they published a paper titled “Methods and processes of the CONSORT Group: example of an extension for trials assessing nonpharmacologic treatments” in the Annals of Internal Medicine. They followed up in March 2010 with the publication of “CONSORT 2010 Statement: Updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomized trials.”

As they wrote in the statement: Continue reading Penalties for early withdrawal: irked CONSORT Group authors

Update on the Gressner case: Son Olav says he’s the unfairly targeted “bête noire”

We have an update on the case of Olav and Axel Gressner, a father-son (or, in this case, son-father) pair of German liver researchers caught up in a fraud investigation. The inquiry focused on Olav, who left the University of Aachen under a cloud of suspicion. A 2008 research letter on which he was a co-author (his father was senior author) was retracted earlier this year by the Journal of Hepatology.

The journal’s position in the retraction notice,  published online in June and in print in September, bears repeating here. The authors: Continue reading Update on the Gressner case: Son Olav says he’s the unfairly targeted “bête noire”

Our computer ate the data: Expression of concern over blood thinner study raises concerns itself

Thrombosis and Haemostasis has issued an “expression of concern” over a 2004 paper by Tunisian researchers:

Concerns have been raised by readers about the accuracy and validity of the data reported in the September 2004 article by Abdelkefi et al., entitled “Prevention of central venous line-related thrombosis by continuous infusion of low-dose unfractionated heparin, in patients with haemato-oncological disease. A randomized controlled trial” (Abdelkefi A et al.Thromb Haemost 2004; 92: 654–661).

In the trial, 108 patients with blood cancers reportedly received infusions of either saline or heparin, a blood thinner. Those given the active drug were far less likely to develop clots related to their catheters, according to the researchers, and no more likely to experience severe bleeding. In the report, the researchers write:

This is the first prospective, randomized study, which shows that low-dose of unfractionated heparin is safeand effective to prevent catheter-related thrombosis in patients with haemato-oncological disease.

The article has had an impact, having been cited 32 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. At some point after publication, however, the results evidently began to look fishy. Again from the journal: Continue reading Our computer ate the data: Expression of concern over blood thinner study raises concerns itself

Sultans of swap: List of plagiarized papers grows to include BMJ

Although some readers evidently have yawned at revelations that Vahdettin Bayazit, of Alparslan University in Turkey (and, we are tempted to assume, at least a few of his co-authors) appears to have plagiarized wantonly in numerous published articles, one follower of Retraction Watch was on to this case even before we were.

In an e-mail, the tipster laid out a picture of intellectual dishonesty audacious for both its scope and ham-handedness. The researcher, who wanted to remain anonymous, used Google to detect instances of plagiarism, just as we had, coming up with “more than 10” papers with passages stolen from the scientific literature and even Wikipedia, including not only lifted text but figures, too. And, just as in our case, the editors our source contacted about the misconduct have essentially ignored it.

We confess that we’re puzzled by the attitude that a little plagiarism is no big deal. As physician Andrew Burd writes in the BMJ today: Continue reading Sultans of swap: List of plagiarized papers grows to include BMJ