An unusual retraction: German defense minister zu Guttenberg loses doctorate over plagiarized thesis

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, photo by Peter Weis via Wikimedia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Peter_Weis

When we cover plagiarism on Retraction Watch, particularly when it leads to retractions, we’re writing almost exclusively about science. But there’s a story about a retraction outside of the scientific literature that has been unfolding over the past week, and grabbing enough headlines, that we figured we should post something on it.

It was Bremen University’s Andreas Fischer-Lescano who discovered what he called “a brazen plagiarism” in German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s 2006 law thesis, according to The Guardian. The minister was already a member of parliament at the time, and had apparently used sections of newspaper articles without attribution.

When the allegations first came to light last week, zu Guttenberg denied them. But a university ombudsperson began looking into the matter. And der Spiegel reported that zu Guttenberg Continue reading An unusual retraction: German defense minister zu Guttenberg loses doctorate over plagiarized thesis

Imperial College London, where Jatinder Ahluwalia did his PhD, now repeating his key experiments

We have more news about Jatinder Ahluwalia, whose career has so far been punctuated by dismissal from the University of Cambridge for faking data, and by having been found guilty of scientific misconduct at University College London. Yesterday, we reported that Ahluwalia hadn’t told Imperial College London UCL — where he earned his PhD — about being dismissed from Cambridge.

Today, we learned that Imperial College London, where he he earned his PhD, has also had concerns over Ahluwalia’s work, and is repeating some of his experiments. In a statement, a College spokesperson told Retraction Watch:  Continue reading Imperial College London, where Jatinder Ahluwalia did his PhD, now repeating his key experiments

Ahluwalia did not tell UCL he had been dismissed from Cambridge

About two weeks ago, we reported that Jatinder Ahluwalia — a scientist at the University of East London (UEL) who had been found guilty of scientific misconduct at University College London (UCL) — had been dismissed from the University of Cambridge’s graduate studies program for data fabrication. A dean at UEL told us later that week that the university was looking into the situation, and the lack of progress and communication from senior officials apparently has the faculty in an uproar. Continue reading Ahluwalia did not tell UCL he had been dismissed from Cambridge

Two more Bulfone-Paus retraction notices appear

The number of retraction notices of papers co-authored by Silvia Bulfone-Paus is up to eight.

The Journal of Leukocyte Biology, which was apparently the first to announce they had accepted a retraction, has published its notice: Continue reading Two more Bulfone-Paus retraction notices appear

Exclusive: UEL staff “in uproar about lack of progress” investigating Jatinder Ahluwalia

On Friday, we reported that the University of East London (UEL) was looking into the career of Jatinder Ahluwalia, the UEL researcher who has left a trail of alleged scientific misconduct at Cambridge University and University College London.

Today, in another Retraction Watch exclusive, we have obtained a letter sent by a faculty member at UEL to department colleagues. It suggests that faculty there are very concerned about the toll these allegations may take on the university’s students and reputation, and are furious that senior officials have failed to keep them in the loop about any potential investigation.

Here’s the text of the letter: Continue reading Exclusive: UEL staff “in uproar about lack of progress” investigating Jatinder Ahluwalia

Update on mysterious JACI retraction: Data were falsified

Since the weekend, we’ve been trying to get more details on a somewhat mysterious retraction in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The sparse notice really only said that there were “data inconsistencies” that made the data unreliable.

On Monday, as we noted in an update to the post yesterday, we learned:

The inconsistencies related to what an individual’s lab-book recorded in terms of patients and infections. These came to light when this data was compared to hospital records, during the process of manuscript preparation. As noted, we reported our concerns about the validity of the data and following a review, there was no adequate explanation and the concerns remained.

We still couldn’t tell whether this was error or falsification. Late last night, we got the answer from co-author Euan Tovey: Continue reading Update on mysterious JACI retraction: Data were falsified

Bulfone-Paus retraction notice appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry

Silvia Bulfone-Paus

Another retraction notice for a paper by Silvia Bulfone-Paus and colleagues has appeared, this one for a 2007 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), “Soluble IL-15Rα is generated by alternative splicing or proteolytic cleavage and forms functional complexes with Il-15.”

This is the sixth retraction notice of a promised 12 in several journals. The original paper has been cited 37 times,  according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Some of the notices have gone into great detail about what was wrong with the original papers, and journals have even allowed the team to declare that some of the results had been replicated. One simply said there had been misconduct.

Then there’s this one: Continue reading Bulfone-Paus retraction notice appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry

A mysterious retraction in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has retracted a 2009 abstract, but don’t ask us why. The retraction notice for “Children with asthma and no URTI, more commonly have rhinovirus in their exhaled breath, than in mucous,” is another one we’ll file under “opaque“: Continue reading A mysterious retraction in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

University of East London “looking into” Jatinder Ahluwalia’s career

We’re continuing to follow the case of Jatinder Ahluwalia. As we reported on Tuesday, Ahluwalia was dismissed from graduate school at the University of Cambridge years before a University College London (UCL) investigation found had renumbered files to deceive a co-author, and had likely sabotaged his colleagues’ work while manipulating his solutions to improve how his results looked. The results of that investigation came to light as part of a Nature retraction.

Ahluwalia now works — and studies plagiarism, in fact — at the school of health and bioscience at the University of East London. We asked Neville Punchard, the school’s dean, whether the university was aware of Ahluwalia’s past. Punchard replied by email: Continue reading University of East London “looking into” Jatinder Ahluwalia’s career

Scandinavian Journal of Immunology publishes Bulfone-Paus retraction notice

Silvia Bulfone-Paus

Last week, we reported that the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology had noted that a 2002 paper by Silvia Bulfone-Paus and colleagues had been retracted, but hadn’t yet published the retraction notice. A commenter tipped us off this week that the notice is out: Continue reading Scandinavian Journal of Immunology publishes Bulfone-Paus retraction notice