A group of rheumatology researchers in Egypt that lost a paper in 2016 for a variety of problems has lost two more.
The authors common to the two papers, Anna Abou-Raya and Suzan Abou-Raya, are based at the University of Alexandria, which did not find evidence of scientific misconduct, according to one of the retraction notices. The journal that published the two papers, The Journal of Rheumatology, however, found several other issues that led them to retract the papers.
Two journals have retracted two papers by the same group within months of each other, after editors were independently tipped off that they contained duplicated figures representing different experiments.
The two papers were published by PLOS ONE and The Egyptian Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (EJBMB) in 2015 and 2014, respectively. According to the PLOS ONE paper’s corresponding author, last author Saad A. Noeman from Tanta University in Egypt used the same Figure 1 in both papers, along with another 2013 paper in EJBMB.
Corresponding author Yasser S. El-Sayed, head of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at Damanhour University in Egypt, told us he learned of this issue after a reader brought the figure manipulation and duplication concerns to PLOS ONE’s attention.
El-Sayed said that he tried to figure out what had happened.
A food science journal has retracted a paper over “a breach of reviewer confidentiality,” after editors learned it contained text from an unpublished manuscript — which one of the authors appears to have reviewed for another journal.
The publisher and editors-in-chief of the Journal of Food Process Engineering became aware of the breach when the author of the unpublished manuscript lodged a complaint that his paper, under review at another journal, had been plagiarized by the now retracted paper.
We’re hazy on a few details in this case. Although the journal editor told us the “main author” of the retracted paper reviewed the original manuscript for another journal, the corresponding author of the retracted paper said he was not to blame. (More on that below.)
Journals have retracted two papers after they were flagged by a pseudonymous blogger, who suspected all had copied text from other sources.
What’s more, a third paper seems to have simply disappeared from the journal’s website, after the blogger, Neuroskeptic, alerted the journal to the text overlap.
Neuroskeptic became suspicious about the three unrelated papers – about food chemistry, heart disease, and the immune system and cancer – after scanning them with plagiarism software. After alerting the journals, two issued formal retractions for the papers – but neither specifies plagiarism as the reason.
The retractions were the result of a larger project, Neuroskeptic told us:
Sometimes, the best way to expose a problem with the publishing process is to put it to a test — perhaps by performing a Sokal-style hoax, or submitting a paper with obvious flaws.
In 2014, that’s just what a researcher in Kosovo did. Suspicious that a journal wasn’t doing a thorough job of vetting submissions, she decided to send them an article of hers that had already appeared in another journal. Her thinking was that any journal with an honest and thorough peer review process would hesitate to publish the work. But this journal didn’t — at least at first. Though they retracted the paper this summer, it took a few twists and turns to get there.
A rheumatology journal has retracted a paper about treating knee pain after an institutional investigation found a mistake in the statistical process.
Over several months, the authors proposed a series of corrections to the 2014 study. However, the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (ARD) decided that there were “unresolved concerns” about the reliability of the data, and decided to retract the paper entirely, despite the authors’ objections.
A paper on a hybrid algorithm turned out to be a hybrid itself — some original data, plus some from a paper that the authors had published earlier.
According to the retraction note, the overlap was significant enough to pull it from the scientific record.
The retracted paper describes an algorithm that is the combination of a “genetic algorithm” and a “cultural algorithm”– which, as their names sort of suggest, focus on looking at a population of solutions, and the history of which kinds of solutions work, respectively. According to the abstract, results to optimization problems found with a hybrid algorithm are “more accurate and the fast convergence is obvious.”
The retraction note provides a few details about the nature of the duplication: