When zoologists at the University of Oxford published findings in Science last year suggesting ducklings can learn to identify shapes and colors without training (unlike other animals), the news media was entranced.
However, critics of the study have published a pair of papers questioning the findings, saying the data likely stem from chance alone. Still, the critics told us they don’t believe the findings should be retracted.
If a duckling is shown an image, can it pick out another from a set that has the same shape or color? Antone Martinho III and Alex Kacelnik say yes. In one experiment, 32 out of 47 ducklings preferred pairs of shapes they were originally shown. In the second experiment, 45 out of 66 ducklings preferred the original color. The findings caught the attention of many media outlets, including the New York Times, The Atlantic, and BuzzFeed.
Sometime in the middle of 2015, Jennifer Byrne, professor of molecular oncology at the University of Sydney, began her journey from cancer researcher to a scientific literature sleuth, seeking out potentially problematic papers.
The first step was when she noticed several papers that contained a mistake in a DNA construct which, she believed, meant the papers were not testing the gene in question, associated with multiple cancer types. She started a writing campaign to the journal editors and researchers, with mixed success. But less than two years later, two of the five papers she flagged have already been retracted.
Can playing first-person shooter video games train players to become better marksmen?
A 2012 paper — titled “Boom, Headshot!” — presented evidence to suggest that was, in fact, true. But after enduring heavy fire from critics (one of whom has long argued video games have little lasting impact on users), the authors are planning to retract the paper, citing some irregularities with the data. Although the journal has apparently agreed to publish a revised version of the paper, last year the researchers’ institution decided to launch a misconduct investigation against one of the two co-authors.
In March, 2013, a graduate student joined the lab of a prominent researcher in Australia, investigating new therapies for Parkinson’s. A few months later, everything fell apart.
In September 2013, the University of Queensland (UQ) announced it was retracting one of the lab’s papers, returning the money used to fund the research and launching a fraud investigation. Since then, the scandal has grown to the point where the lead researcher and his co-author have been convicted of fraud in an Australian court.
Now, the graduate student is fighting back. After losing her research project and being escorted off campus for allegedly erratic behavior, she has appealed to UQ to reimburse her for tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, and is now awaiting a verdict from a government ombudsman. The graduate student goes by “Dominique,” which is not her real name; Retraction Watch is keeping her identity confidential to protect her privacy.Continue reading A grad student was caught in the crossfire of fraud — and fought back
A California court ruled that fitness empire CrossFit can proceed to trial with its lawsuit against a competitor, alleging it published falsified data that hurt the company’s reputation, according to recently released court documents.
The case pits the popular for-profit CrossFit brand against the non-profit National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), which published the 2013 study in question.
The study appeared in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, published by CrossFit competitor NSCA, which also promotes fitness programs. CrossFit claims the results in the paper cost it revenues from people paying for seminars at CrossFit, Inc. affiliate gyms.
What’s more, a UC Davis committee had recommended that former professor Ishwarlal “Kenny” Jialal retire early but maintain his professor emeritus status, and Katehi overruled that decision, deciding to strip Jialal of any future emeritus status.
A labeled chemical bottle may contain a genie and not the expected reagent, according to a cautionary retraction that could be a warning for all bench researchers.
Sreenivasan Sasidharan, a researcher at the Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine (INFORMM), part of the Universiti Sains Malaysia, used a bottle labeled lantadene A, a liver-destroying chemical from the leaves of the Lantana camara plant that some livestock eat.
Sasidharan found that contrary to expectations, “lantadene A” protected livers against damage from acetaminophen — aka Tylenol.
Here’s something we haven’t seen before: A group of researchers plagiarize, are called on it, and are then allowed to resubmit a new version that’s published, while their offending paper is retracted.
A reader flagged the plagiarism in the original paper, “Protein domains, catalytic activity, and subcellular distribution of mouse NTE-related esterase,” by Ping’an Chang and colleagues, which led the research team to revise and resubmit the manuscript. After the journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry — a Springer title — published the plagiarism-scrubbed paper, the original paper required retraction.