An Australian university cleared a cancer researcher of misconduct. He’s now retracted six papers.

Levon Khachigian

The story of Levon Khachigian’s research is a long and winding tale.

One place to start would be in October 2009, when a paper co-authored by Khachigian — whose work at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has been funded by millions of dollars in funding from the Australian government, and has led to clinical trials, although more on that later — was retracted from Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. The “corresponding author published the paper without the full consent or acknowledgement of all the researchers and would like to apologize for this error,” according to that notice. Continue reading An Australian university cleared a cancer researcher of misconduct. He’s now retracted six papers.

Journal retracts paper by controversial Australian journalist

Maryanne Demasi

The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) has retracted a 2003 paper that resulted from the PhD thesis of Maryanne Demasi, an Australian journalist whose reporting on statins and the risks of cancer from cell phones has been a lightning rod.

The move, for what the journal says was attempts to reuse images to represent different experiments, follows an investigation by the University of Adelaide into allegations of image manipulation in Demasi’s thesis. In the investigation, Demasi

Continue reading Journal retracts paper by controversial Australian journalist

Misconduct probe of once rising star prompts retraction of cat’s meow paper

A group of Australian researchers who studied the cat’s meow as a model for urinary incontinence and other motor-neural issues in people have lost a 2015 paper in the wake of a misconduct investigation.

The target of the inquiry was Hari Subramanian, a former senior research fellow at the Queensland Brain Institute, part of the University of Queensland (UQ). Subramanian was leading studies of incontinence in the elderly, for which he sometimes used nerve stimulators on live rodents and cats. As The Australian reported last September, animal rights activists have objected to his research methods — which sometimes involved sticking probes into the brains of living animals.  

Recently, the school launched an investigation — prompted by an unknown complainant — into the integrity of Subramanian’s data in two articles, including one, now retracted, that appeared in the Journal of Comparative Neurology.  

The case is controversial, to say the least, replete with allegations of unfair attacks. Subramanian’s lawyer told us the journal may be reviewing its decision to retract the paper. (We couldn’t confirm that with the editor.)

Here’s what we’ve found out so far.

Continue reading Misconduct probe of once rising star prompts retraction of cat’s meow paper

Controversial Australian science journalist admits to duplication in her PhD thesis

Maryanne Demasi

A prominent (yet controversial) journalist in Australia has admitted to duplicating three images that were part of her PhD thesis — a practice outside experts agreed was acceptable, if not ideal, at the time, according to a report released today.

As part of an inquiry, the University of Adelaide convened an expert panel to investigate 17 allegations of duplication and/or manipulation in Maryanne Demasi’s 2004 thesis. Duplication is a common reason for retractions, such as when researchers use the same image to depict the results of different experiments.

After earning her PhD in rheumatology, Demasi became a journalist who got headlines for more than just her reporting. In 2013, she produced a controversial series about cholesterol and fat (which suggested they have been unfairly villainized, and which cast doubt on cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins). A few years later, Demasi was fired from the science program Catalyst, after it aired an episode alleging wi-fi could cause brain tumors.

Regarding the allegations of misconduct in Demasi’s thesis, the originals of the images in question were long gone, so in 14 instances, an expert concluded it was not possible to conclude whether or not duplication had occurred. But in the remaining three instances, Demasi admitted she had “duplicated or probably duplicated” the images:

Continue reading Controversial Australian science journalist admits to duplication in her PhD thesis

Research problems at Australian university hit the news

A university in Australia that’s made headlines before over allegations of research misconduct has found itself in the news once again.

Last week, the University of Queensland (UQ) announced some of its authors were retracting a paper after discovering data were missing. Just days later, the university made headlines over an investigation into three papers about controversial therapies that were OK’d by UQ ethics committees. Continue reading Research problems at Australian university hit the news

Caught Our Notice: Big journal, big correction

Title: Tranexamic Acid in Patients Undergoing Coronary-Artery Surgery

What Caught Our Attention: When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) publishes a correction that is more than a misspelling of a name, we take a look. When NEJM publishes a 500-word correction to the data in a highly cited article, we take notice. This study tested the effects of a drug to prevent blood loss in patients undergoing heart surgery; it’s been the subject of correspondence between the authors and outside experts. The correction involved tweaks — lots of tweaks — to the text and tables, which did not change the outcomes.   Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Big journal, big correction

“GOOD NEWS!…we were able to retract your article:” Journal

A paleontology journal has retracted a recent paper after discovering it had published the uncorrected version of the manuscript.

The mistake occurred after the authors submitted revisions to the manuscript without tracking the changes, prompting the publisher to believe nothing had been changed and publishing the previous version. The journal initially told the authors it planned to publish an erratum that described the mistake as a production error, but then retracted the paper—seemingly without consulting the authors. However, the authors said they were happy with the outcome.

Glenn Brock, an author on the Journal of Paleontology paper, told Retraction Watch: Continue reading “GOOD NEWS!…we were able to retract your article:” Journal

Authors retract paper on psychopathic traits in bosses

A paper on the prevalence of cruel social behavior in the corporate world has been retracted, following an investigation at the authors’ university. According to the senior author, she inadvertently paraphrased a dissertation on the same topic that did not belong to her student and co-author.

On Sept. 21, 2016, Katarina Fritzon, a professor at Australia’s Bond University, and Nathan Brooks, who was Fritzon’s graduate student at the time, published “Psychopathic personality characteristics amongst high functioning populations,” in Crime Psychology Review. The paper suggested that as many as one in five corporate executives exhibited the hallmarks of a psychopath, such as lack of remorse or egocentricity.

Fritzon told Retraction Watch the paper drew largely from the introduction to Brooks’s doctoral dissertation. Along with Brooks’ research, it received media attention worldwide. But Fritzon told us that in October 2016 she received a complaint from another university about the work: Continue reading Authors retract paper on psychopathic traits in bosses

“A concerning – largely unrecognised – threat to patient safety:” Nursing reviews cite retracted trials

Richard Gray

Too many papers cite retracted research — even after it’s been retracted. It’s a problem. It can be especially a problem in clinical fields, where patient care is at stake. Recently, Richard Gray at La Trobe University in Australia and his colleagues examined the scope of the problem in the nursing field, noting how many systematic reviews included findings from retracted clinical trials. We spoke with Gray about their findings, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies — and what they might mean for the safety of patients.

Retraction Watch: Retractions are a concern in any field, but as you note, when clinical practice is at stake, it can be particularly worrisome. Do you think your findings raise any potential concerns about patient safety?

Continue reading “A concerning – largely unrecognised – threat to patient safety:” Nursing reviews cite retracted trials

Caught Our Notice: Ethics, data concerns prompt another retraction for convicted researchers

Via Wikimedia

Title: Unravelling the influence of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) on cognitive-linguistic processing: A comparative group analysis

What Caught our Attention: RW readers might already be familiar with Caroline Barwood and Bruce Murdoch, two researchers from Australia who had the rare distinction of being criminally charged for research misconduct. Both Barwood and Murdoch received suspended sentences after being found guilty of multiple counts of fraud. In September 2014, University of Queensland announced that: Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Ethics, data concerns prompt another retraction for convicted researchers