Adeel Safdar was once a rising star in the field of kinesiology. After completing his doctorate degree at McMaster University in Canada, working with one of the titans of his field, Safdar took a postdoc at Harvard, then accepted a newly created chair position at another university in Ontario.
That all came crashing down last year, when Safdar went on trial in Canada, accused of horrifically abusing his wife. Over the course of the trial, allegations arose about his research, prompting two journals to flag papers he co-authored with his former mentor, Mark Tarnopolsky.
If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Tom Spears, a reporter at the Ottawa Citizen, you have missed some clever lampooning of fake journals. But that work has not gone unnoticed in some circles, apparently: In the not-so-cleverly named journal Significances of Bioengineering & Biosciences, whose publisher’s motto is “Wings To The Research,” a researcher named Sam Yosemite seems to have nominated Spears for the Nobel Prize. And in what some might consider a miracle — or just a made-up story — we managed to locate questions that the “late Dr. Adam Oransky, who gave his life rescuing six frostbitten Sherpas from an ascent of the Catskills without oxygen last August,” according to Yosemite’s editorial, meant to ask Spears. (Oransky’s work on time travel has been rumored to be in the running for a Nobel for some time, but his untimely death of course ended that possibility, given the Prize’s prohibition against posthumous awards.) That interview follows.
Retraction Watch: Dr. Yosemite seems to be nominating you for “the Nobel Prize,” but as everyone knows, there is more than one Nobel Prize. Which one do you think he meant? And do you think you deserve this honor?
When Parisa Ariyawas invited to write a review for a special issue of the journal Atmosphere, she asked one of her former doctoral students to take the lead. But she soon regretted that decision after discovering Lin (Emma) Si had plagiarized and duplicated significant portions of the review.
Ariya, chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at McGill University in Montreal, told Retraction Watch that she believes it’s important to foster the careers of young women in science and was excited for her former student, Si, to take on the challenge of writing her first review. (Si was cc’d on our email communications with Ariya, but did not respond to our individual request for comment.) Continue reading McGill dept chair says she was blindsided by coauthor’s plagiarism
What Caught Our Attention: Usually, when journals publish corrections to articles, they also correct the original article, except when the original is unavailable online. When Nature noticed that some figure panels in a 20-year-old paper were duplicated, it flagged the issue for readers — but didn’t correct the online version of the original paper. According to the notice, the duplications don’t disturb the conclusion illustrated by the figure, the original data couldn’t be found, and the last two authors had retired. We contacted a spokesperson at Nature, who told us “the information at the start of the paper clearly links to the corrigendum.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Yes, a 20-year-old article is wrong — but it won’t be corrected online
The paper has been republished in the same journal, adding another chapter to Shaw and Tomljenovic’s confusing record of publishing and withdrawing papers. The journal did not respond to our request for comment, but Shaw told Retraction Watch:
A Canadian doctor with nine retractions due to misconduct has lost a court case seeking payment for an expert medical exam he performed in August 2014. The exam took place several months after his university found he had allowed a breach of research integrity in his lab and a month before news of the investigation and his departure from the school made national news in Canada.
On Dec. 5, Cory Toth, a former professor at the University of Calgary (U of C), appeared in an Edmonton, Alberta courtroom as the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in Provincial Civil Court. The story was first reported by the Edmonton Journal.
A high profile paper published in 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) set out to answer that question — and found that yes, the more money people have, the more likely they are to lie, cheat, and steal. And the greedier they are, the worse they behave. But when a more recent paper tried to replicate some of those findings, it couldn’t.
It turns out, both the original paper and the paper that tried to replicate it contained errors. Although neither appear to affect the main conclusions, the authors of the 2016 replication recently issued a correction; the error in the 2012 paper was initially deemed too insignificant to correct, but the journal has decided to revisit the idea of issuing a correction.
A journal is planning to retract a paper that purported to link a component of vaccines to autism in mice.
The paper, about the effects of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines on the immune response in the brains of mice, is the second retraction for co-authors Christopher Shaw and Lucija Tomljenovic, of the University of British Columbia. The journal’s editor told us he and the authors are jointly retracting the paper.
Just over a month old, the paper has already received plenty of criticism. Numerous commenters on PubPeer have allegedly identified image duplications and other problems with the paper. One commenter described “clear and deliberate” removal of control results in the paper, while others suggested gel bands were duplicated within the paper, and appear similar to those from another paperpublished in 2014 by Shaw and Tomljenovic. In a blog post, David Gorski, a professor and surgeon at Wayne State University, called the paper “antivaccine pseudoscience.”