A mysterious lit and film critic who built a significant portion of his career using the words of other scholars instead of writing his own appears to be attempting a second act.
Last year, Richard-Lawrence Etienne Barnett, who has lost more than two dozen papersfor plagiarism, published a book called “The Adversarial Text,” which appears to have a rather cozy relationship with four of his retracted articles. The apparent purloinment was first reported by Volker Schröder, a scholar of French and Italian at Princeton University who has been following the Barnett case for the better part of two decades.
Today, a French council was set to confirm the new head of a prominent research institute, the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). But the appointee took the job a few days early, after the interim director stepped down last week — and the speculation about why she left hasn’t stopped ever since.
An official announcement from the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, which runs the CNRS, said Anne Peyroche would be replaced by her expected successor, computer scientist Antoine Petit. Although there have been discussions about some of Peyroche’s work on PubPeer (some of which the authors have responded to, assuaging at least one critic), the announcement provided no reason for the new timetable; a news story in Le Figaro cited health reasons.
A spokesperson for the CNRS told Retraction Watch:
Several colleagues had alerted him to a paper, published online in late December 2015 in the Journal of African Earth Sciences (JAES), reporting the discovery of a rare mineral, which Jambon had been analyzing.
When Jambon read the paper, he realized it was a modified version of a paper he had been working on for almost eight years. Impatient, one of his co-authors, Ahmad Bilal, had published his own version of the manuscript and listed himself as the sole author.
Jambon, a professor atPierre and Marie Curie University, believes that Bilal’s paper plagiarized his manuscript, but Bilal disputes this allegation. Bilal–who works at Damascus University in Syria–says he couldn’t wait any longer to publish the manuscript, so wrote “a completely new version.” Since the authors couldn’t resolve the authorship dispute, in August 2016, the journal issued a “temporary” expression of concern, alerting readers to the authorship concerns. Now, a year and a half later, a spokesperson for the publisher says it’s going to be retracted.
Plant scientists have issued two retractions after noticing several images had been duplicated within and across the papers.
The papers both appeared in March 2002 in The Plant Cell and The Plant Journal.
The last author on both papers — Jonathan Jones, a professor and group leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK — took responsibility for the duplications. He told us:
As last author I was responsible for checking the papers but did not notice the similarities between figures in the different papers. I regret this and took action as soon as I realized there was an issue. Both papers went through peer review and the issue was not picked up at that point either.
Susana Rivas, the first author on both papers, has collaborated with beleaguered plant scientist Oliver Voinnet — and was a second author on one of his eight retractions (which we covered here).
In 2014, a journal contacted researcher Denis Rousseau about one of his papers that had just been published online ahead of print, raising some concerns. According to Rousseau, he sent the journal a corrected figure “almost immediately,” which he believed addressed the issue.
Rousseau, a cell biologist at the University Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, said he then contacted the journal many times over the next three years to ask about the status of the paper — which never ended up in print — but heard nothing back.
Three years passed.
In March, the publisher finally contacted Rousseau, this time to ask him to issue a formal retraction for the paper. And despite his objections, Molecular and Cellular Biology published a sparse retraction notice, which provides little information about what went wrong:
The timing was tight, but Sergio Gonzalez had done it. Gonzalez, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Neurosciences of Montpellier (INSERM) in France, had a paper accepted in a top journal by the end of 2015, just in time to apply for a small number of highly sought-after permanent research positions that open up in France each year.
If Gonzalez had missed the January deadline for this system of advancement, known as concours, he would have had to wait until the following cycle to apply.
Once his paper was accepted by the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Gonzalez could breathe a sigh of relief. He began being invited to interviews. But then, a comment showed up at PubPeer.
Although the retraction statement points the finger at the first author, Sebastien Pfeffer, the list of contributors includes Patrice Dunoyer, a frequent collaborator of Olivier Voinnet, a high-profile plant biologist whose work has come under intense scrutiny.