As last of 12 promised Bulfone-Paus retractions appears, a (disappointing) report card on journal transparency

The final two retractions by Silvia Bulfone-Paus and colleagues, among the 12 promised by Research Centre Borstel following an investigation into scientific misconduct, have appeared. Both are in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), and read as follows:

This article has been withdrawn by the authors.

We find that near-complete lack of information frustrating, not to mention useless to the scientific community. Unfortunately, it’s par for the course when it comes to the JBC and Bulfone-Paus retractions. The other three said exactly the same thing.

With that in mind, we thought it would be worth looking at all 12 retraction notices, as a sort of case series in journals’ transparency. We often look at particular retractions in a vacuum, but here was a chance to look at 12 papers, all retracted for the same reason, to see how each journal reported the withdrawal.

Here are the 12, in rough order, worst to best, based on how useful they are to scientists coming across them: Continue reading As last of 12 promised Bulfone-Paus retractions appears, a (disappointing) report card on journal transparency

Tenth Bulfone-Paus retraction notice appears, in Journal of Biological Chemistry

The tenth of 12 promised retractions by Silvia Bulfone-Paus and colleagues has appeared, in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).

The paper, “Reverse signaling through membrane-bound Interleukin-15,” was published in 2004 and has been cited 31 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The retraction notice, just like the other one for the team’s work that appeared in the JBC, was completely uninformative: Continue reading Tenth Bulfone-Paus retraction notice appears, in Journal of Biological Chemistry

NEJM retracts Potti paper

courtesy Duke

About a month ago, the New England Journal of Medicine told us that they didn’t “have any plans” to retract a paper by Anil Potti. Apparently, they’ve changed their minds.

Today, they posted this retraction notice: Continue reading NEJM retracts Potti paper

A Nature chain retraction for Arabidopsis paper, and some unanswered questions

courtesy Nature

If a paper is retracted, should papers that cite it get retracted, too? We’ve been on the lookout for this kind of move, which we figure is consistent with cleaning up the scientific record. Today, one appears in Nature.

The original paper, “Mediation of pathogen resistance by exudation of antimicrobials from roots,” purported to show how a particular bug evades the immune system of Arabidopsis, a plant commonly used in the lab. It has been cited 51 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retraction notice says that the paper’s conclusions could no longer be supported because one of the key references — a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by many of the same authors — had been retracted: Continue reading A Nature chain retraction for Arabidopsis paper, and some unanswered questions

German defense minister Guttenberg resigns after losing his PhD for a plagiarized thesis

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, photo by Peter Weis via Wikimedia

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who was stripped of his PhD last week after being found guilty of plagiarizing his law thesis, has resigned his post as Germany’s defense minister. According to Reuters:

“I was always ready to fight but I’ve reached the limit of my powers,” Guttenberg, 39, told journalists in a hastily arranged news briefing at the Defense Ministry in Berlin.

“I informed the chancellor in a very friendly conversation that I’m resigning from political offices and requested to be relieved. It’s the most painful step of my life.”

As we wrote last week, a Bremen University professor first discovered the plagiarism, which was then explored a wiki. The University of Bayreuth took away his doctorate on Wednesday the 23rd.

Alice Bell noted in a comment yesterday Continue reading German defense minister Guttenberg resigns after losing his PhD for a plagiarized thesis

University of Sao Paulo fires professor after a retraction for plagiarism

February has turned out to be a bad month for people found guilty of plagiarism. On Friday, we covered the case of the German foreign defense minister who lost his PhD after his university became aware he had copied passages from newspaper stories into his thesis.

And now we’ve learned that the University of Sao Paolo Paulo (USP) dismissed a full professor earlier this month after an investigation into a study he retracted last year because parts of it had been plagiarized. It has also stripped one of the professor’s former students of her PhD. Continue reading University of Sao Paulo fires professor after a retraction for plagiarism

Ninth Bulfone-Paus retraction notice appears, in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Another retraction notice for a paper published by Silvia Bulfone-Paus and colleagues has appeared, this one for a 2005 paper in Molecular and Cellular Biology.

The retraction notice is brief but to the point: Continue reading Ninth Bulfone-Paus retraction notice appears, in Molecular and Cellular Biology

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