Hey journals, it is possible to quickly correct the record

Even when a paper is obviously flawed, it can take years for journals to take action. Some never do. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

On April 27, a reader emailed the editors of two journals, noting that each had recently published a paper by the same group of authors that appeared strikingly similar.

Four days later, on May 1, a representative at Medicine, the journal that published the most recent version of the paper, wrote the reader back, saying the paper was going to be retracted.

Continue reading Hey journals, it is possible to quickly correct the record

Now-retracted chem paper’s problems “should have been noticed by the referees,” group says

Last year, chemist Marcus Tius at the University of Hawaii saw a paper describing the synthesis of some organic compounds, and was “struck by the implausibility” of the reported structures. So he joined up with some colleagues to try to replicate the data.

While Tius and his team were trying to repeat the experiment, however, in December 2017 the journal — Organic Letters — retracted the paper. The journal, published by the American Chemical Society, noted that the authors had not been able to produce crystal structures that confirm they had synthesized those compounds in particular. So Tius and his colleagues knew they couldn’t replicate the findings — but carried on their experiment anyway:

Continue reading Now-retracted chem paper’s problems “should have been noticed by the referees,” group says

Caught Our Notice: Forged email for corresponding author dooms diabetes paper

Title: Naringin Alleviates Diabetic Kidney Disease through Inhibiting Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Reaction

What Caught Our Attention: PLOS ONE had a few reasons for retracting a 2015 paper about a treatment for kidney disease due to diabetes: For one, despite what the paper claims, the authors did not obtain ethical approval to conduct the reported animal experiments. In addition, the corresponding author had no idea the paper had been submitted and published. How could a corresponding author be kept in the dark? It turns out, the journal was given an incorrect email address for him, so he didn’t receive any communications around the paper. (One author apparently used a third party editing company.) Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Forged email for corresponding author dooms diabetes paper

Caught Our Notice: 54 problems in three scientific images equals one expression of concern

Title: Effects of microRNA-223 on morphine analgesic tolerance by targeting NLRP3 in a rat model of neuropathic pain

What Caught Our Attention: Usually, an Expression of Concern (EOC) offers general language about “concerns regarding the validity of the data” or “concerns regarding the integrity of the study.” Here the language is anything but, saying that 54 Western blot bands within three figures have problems such as “visible pasted joints,” “square border,” and numerous “appear to be the same band.”  According to the notice, the authors have not responded to requests for the original blots, so the editors are allowing the article to remain intact, choosing instead “to alert readers to these issues and allow them to arrive at their own conclusions regarding the figures.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: 54 problems in three scientific images equals one expression of concern

Caught Our Notice: Duplicates, errors prompt two retractions for same author

Titles: 1) Angiopoietin-Like 4 Confers Resistance to Hypoxia/Serum Deprivation-Induced Apoptosis through PI3K/Akt and ERK1/2 Signaling Pathways in Mesenchymal Stem Cells

2) Novel Mechanism of Inhibition of Dendritic Cells Maturation by Mesenchymal Stem Cells via Interleukin-10 and the JAK1/STAT3 Signaling Pathway

What Caught Our Attention: In the span of 48 hours, PLOS ONE retracted two papers this month that were co-authored by Bo Yu, based at Key Laboratories of Education Ministry for Myocardial Ischemia Mechanism and Treatment and The Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University in China. Both notices cite multiple duplications and errors, and conclude:

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Duplicates, errors prompt two retractions for same author

Authors claim clinical trial data came from one center. It came from three.

A BMJ journal has retracted a 2017 paper that made a false claim about the clinical trial in question. 

The Acupuncture in Medicine paper reported the results of a clinical trial about the impact of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine on stroke, gathered from one center. However, in November, the editors of the journal discovered that the authors had completed the trial at three centers, and had already published the data in Scientific Reports in 2016. The authors say the duplication and misrepresentation of the data stemmed from “confusion and misunderstanding.” Continue reading Authors claim clinical trial data came from one center. It came from three.

Over a dozen editorial board members resigned when a journal refused to retract a paper. Today, it’s retracted.

Following a massive editorial protest, Scientific Reports is admitting its handling of a disputed paper was “insufficient and inadequate,” and has agreed to retract it.

The 2016 paper was initially corrected by the journal, after a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, Michael Beer, accused it of lifting some of his earlier work. After we covered the story, nearly two dozen Hopkins researchers threatened to resign from the journal’s editorial board if the journal didn’t retract the paper — and many followed through with that threat after the journal reaffirmed its initial decision. In response, the journal said it would assemble a “senior editorial committee” to review its decision-making.

That committee, it appears, has determined that the journal erred in its initial decision. According to a statement from the journal provided to Retraction Watch:

Continue reading Over a dozen editorial board members resigned when a journal refused to retract a paper. Today, it’s retracted.

Journal retracts paper after discovering lead author forged co-author’s signature

A pharmacy journal has retracted a 2017 cancer paper after determining that the lead author forged her co-author’s signature.

Alain Li Wan Po, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, told Retraction Watch that, after discovering the forgery, the journal lost confidence in “the integrity of the whole report,” and decided to retract it:

Our judgment was that if an author is willing to forge a signature, we cannot be sure of the integrity of the whole report and decided on the retraction.

According to Po, the paper’s lead author, Yan Wang, objected to the retraction because “she maintained that the data were accurate.” So the editors retracted the paper without her approval — but with the agreement of the author Jatinder Lamba, whose name was forged.

How did the journal discover the forged signature?

Continue reading Journal retracts paper after discovering lead author forged co-author’s signature

Caught Our Notice: When data went missing, lab tech filled in the gaps

via Wikimedia

Title: Effects of cyclin E gene silencing on the proliferation of esophageal cancer cell lines, EC9706, Eca109 and KYSE30

What Caught Our Attention: When a reader noticed that six panels in one figure from a 2013 paper looked a little fishy, the authors decided to take a closer look. Following an internal investigation, the authors learned that a laboratory technician had manipulated the panels after realizing some of the original data had been lost.   Continue reading Caught Our Notice: When data went missing, lab tech filled in the gaps

Caught Our Notice: Doesn’t anyone do a literature review any more?

Via Wikimedia

Titles: (1) Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696)

(2) Structure revision of aspergicin by the crystal structure of aspergicine, a co-occurring isomer produced by co-culture of two mangrove epiphytic fungi

What Caught Our Attention: Two articles by different groups of authors recently suffered from the same (fatal) flaw: A poor literature review. The article, “Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696),” claimed to have sequenced a strain already sequenced in 2004 and published in a well-cited article.  According to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, the 2004 article was cited 474 times before the now-retracted article was published. And that 2004 article appeared in a highly-cited journal, Nature Biotechnology. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Doesn’t anyone do a literature review any more?