Journals retract more than a dozen studies from China that may have used executed prisoners’ organs

Wendy Rogers, who has called attention to questionable papers

In the past month, PLOS ONE and Transplantation have retracted fifteen studies by authors in China because of suspicions that the authors may have used organs from executed prisoners.

All of the original studies — seven in Transplantation, and eight in PLOS ONE — were published between 2008 and 2014. Two involved kidney transplants, and the rest involved liver transplants. Two other journals, the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology and Kidney International, have recently issued expressions of concern for the same reason.

In an editorial explaining the seven retractions from its journal, the editors of Transplantation write:

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Aluminum paper foiled by slew of errors

Alloys of various metals

The authors of a 2019 paper on the properties of an aluminum alloy have retracted the work because, well, it was pretty much wrong.

The article, “Effect of ultrasonic temperature and output power on microstructure and mechanical properties of as-cast 6063 aluminum alloy,” appeared in the March issue of the Journal of Alloys and Compounds, an Elsevier title. The authors are affiliated with Taiyuan University of Science and Technology in China.  

According to the abstract

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Materials scientist up to five retractions as publishers investigate dozens of his papers

A materials scientist in Australia, by way of Iran, has recently had five papers retracted for duplicating his prior work, and the reader who brought the issue to publishers’ attention says it could affect some 100 articles.

Ali Nazari, now of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, was at Islamic Azad University in Iran when he published the five papers in Energy and Buildings, an Elsevier title, in 2010 and 2011. The retractions came sometime after January of this year, when an anonymous reader contacted Elsevier about dozens of Nazari’s papers.

A typical notice, for “Physical, mechanical and thermal properties of concrete in different curing media containing ZnO2 nanoparticles,” reads:

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Journal expresses a great deal of concern over deceased author’s work

A gastroenterology journal has issued an extensive expression of concern about a 2013 paper by Yoshihiro Sato, a Japanese endocrinologist who has posthumously been climbing the Retraction Watch leaderboard. (He’s now ranked number three, ahead of Diederik Stapel.)

To call the statement an “expression of concern” is like calling Charles M. Schulz a talented cartoonist, or Escoffier a pretty good cook. Indeed, the journal expresses so much concern, about, well, so much, that we’re not sure what in the paper would be left unscathed. 

Sato, formerly of Hirosaki University, currently has 77 retractions for a range of misconduct-related issues including likely data fabrication and duplication.

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Authors object as “doubtful” data doom dermatology paper

King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh

A dermatology journal has retracted a 2017 article by a pair of researchers in Saudi Arabia after receiving a “serious complaint” about the integrity of the data. But the first author of the paper pushed back, saying the move was unjustified. 

The article, “Successful use of combined corticosteroids and rituximab in a patient with refractory cutaneous polyarteritis nodosa,” was written by Ibrahim Al-Homood and Mohammad Aljahlan, rheumatologists at King Fahad Medical City in Riyadh and appeared in the Journal of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery. It described (with rather grisly pictures) the case of a 25-year-old man with severe leg ulcers that resolved after the described combination therapy. 

But at the notice explains, the paper can’t be trusted:  

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Kyoto University suspends first author of retracted Kumamoto quake paper

Damage from the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake

The first author of a now-retracted paper in Science about the effects of the deadly 2016 Kumamoto earthquake in Japan has been suspended from his university position for one year. 

Aiming Lin, of the Department of Geophysics at Kyoto University, was sanctioned by the institution for misconduct stemming from his misuse of data and plagiarism in the 2016 paper

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OSU cancer researcher Carlo Croce loses appeal of New York Times libel suit

Carlo Croce

Carlo Croce, a prolific cancer researcher at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus who was the subject of a 2017 front page story in The New York Times about allegations of misconduct against him, has lost a libel suit that he filed against the newspaper.

As first reported by Courthouse News Service earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit upheld a lower court’s November 2018 ruling tossing most of Croce’s claims. In the ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Moore writes:

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Criminologist posts 27-page article explaining why he asked for one of his papers to be retracted

via Tony Webster/Flickr

On Sunday, May 5 of this year, Justin Pickett received an email from a “John Smith” with the subject line “Data irregularities and request for data.”

“There seem to be irregularities in the data and findings in five articles that you published together with two surveys,” the anonymous correspondent wrote. “This document outlines those irregularities.”

Pickett was a co-author on only one of the papers, “Ethnic threat and social control: Examining public support for judicial use of ethnicity in punishment,” which was published in 2011 — the year he earned his PhD from Florida State University (FSU) — in the journal Criminology. The other four papers were published from 2015 to 2019 in Criminology, Law & Society Review, and Social Problems. The only author common to all four was Eric A. Stewart, a professor at FSU.

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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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Georgia State researcher has two papers retracted, eight flagged. He’s not happy about it.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry has retracted two papers by a Georgia State University researcher, as well as flagged eight more with expressions of concern, a move the scientist called “unfair and unjustified.”

Ming-Hui Zou, the common author on all ten papers — as well as on two more that have been corrected by the same journal — is, according to Georgia State,

an internationally recognized researcher in molecular and translational medicine and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Molecular Medicine and associate vice president for research at Georgia State University…

Zou was at the University of Oklahoma when the papers in question were published. He moved to Georgia State in 2015.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Reactive nitrogen species is required for the activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase by statin in vivo,” published in 2008 Zou as the last author: 

Continue reading Georgia State researcher has two papers retracted, eight flagged. He’s not happy about it.