Management researcher with 16 retractions has new professorship

Ulrich Lichtenthaler

Ulrich Lichtenthaler, a management professor who has had to retract 16 papers for data irregularities, has a new position in academia.

According to a news release from the International School of Management (ISM), a business school based in Germany, Lichtenthaler has been appointed Professor of Business Management and Entrepreneurship at the Cologne campus. Lichtenthaler is also taking over as one of the directors of the Entrepreneurship Institute at ISM, which conducts research in the field.

Lichtenthaler’s name may be familiar to readers: After journals retracted more than a dozen of his articles, he resigned from a previous post at the University of Mannheim in 2015.

We emailed Lichtenthaler to ask if he had disclosed his history to his new employers; he forwarded the email to ISM’s head of marketing and sales, who told us:

Continue reading Management researcher with 16 retractions has new professorship

Flawed climate science paper “exposed potential weaknesses” in the peer review process

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How did a deeply flawed paper, which contradicts mainstream science on climate change, pass peer review?

That is what three editorial board members tried to figure out after the journal, Global and Planetary Change, faced heavy criticism for publishing the controversial paper last year. The board members published their findings earlier this month in a commentary.

Martin Grosjean, the corresponding author on the editorial, told Retraction Watch that the editors and publisher, Elsevier, share the same interest: Continue reading Flawed climate science paper “exposed potential weaknesses” in the peer review process

Caught Our Notice: “The first author cut the thermoprinter paper printout into pieces and reassembled them”

Title: A mitochondrial ferredoxin is essential for biogenesis of cellular iron-sulfur proteins

What Caught Our Attention: Here’s a cut-and-paste issue that gave us pause. The authors of an 18-year-old paper in PNAS corrected it after realizing some bands in a figure were duplicated (an issue raised on PubPeer one year ago). It turns out, the first author had cut the paper into pieces and reassembled them to present the blots in the “desired order,” and some had become duplicated by mistake. The overall results were unaffected, so the journal swapped the image with a corrected version. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: “The first author cut the thermoprinter paper printout into pieces and reassembled them”

Most board members of journal resign to protest new editor, layoffs

Detlev Ganten

Nearly all of the editorial board members of a 150-year-old journal about the molecular underpinnings of medicine and disease have resigned their posts, protesting changes by publisher SpringerNature that they say “jeopardized the future and scholarly legacy of the Journal.”

In a December 1 letter, led by the three former editors in chief of the Journal of Molecular MedicineDetlev Ganten, Gregg Semenza and Thomas Sommer — more than 70 then-editorial board members raised two objections: closing a small editorial office and laying off staff, and unilaterally appointing a new editor.

Regarding the decision to close the office at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin Buch, where it has been since 1995,  the editors and board members wrote: Continue reading Most board members of journal resign to protest new editor, layoffs

Former director earns two-year funding ban after misconduct finding

A researcher found guilty of misconduct earlier this year has been temporarily banned from funding by the German Research Foundation.

The Foundation’s decision, issued on Dec. 14, 2017, comes six months after the Leibniz Association, made up of 91 independent research institutions, found Karl Lenhard Rudolph guilty of “grossly negligent scientific misconduct.” The research body identified “errors in data representation” in eight of 11 papers and found Rudolph responsible for the issues in seven of them. In June, the Leibniz Association sanctioned Rudolph, and announced he was no longer directing the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute. Continue reading Former director earns two-year funding ban after misconduct finding

Boys will be boys: Data error prompts U-turn on study of sex differences in school

The authors of a 2017 paper on emotional and behavioral gaps between boys and girls have retracted the article after discovering a coding error that completely undermined their conclusions.

The revelation prompted the researchers to republish their findings in the same journal, this time with a title that flips the narrative.

The PsychJournal study, first published in March, looked at self-regulation — loosely defined as the ability to get stuff done and keep a lid on it —  in boys and girls in German elementary schools. Although previous studies had found girls might do better on this front, the authors, from the University of Leipzig and New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus, initially found the opposite:

Continue reading Boys will be boys: Data error prompts U-turn on study of sex differences in school

Post-publication peer review in action: Science flags paper just days after publication

Science has issued an expression of concern for a widely covered materials science paper published on Friday, citing issues with the supplementary data.

The paper — which caught the attention of multiple news outlets — added properties to cotton fibers in vitro, potentially enabling researchers to manufacture fabric that can fluoresce or carry magnetic properties.

The move to issue an expression of concern was unusually quick. According to the journal, an expert who received the paper from a journalist under a media embargo contacted Science to flag issues in some of the supplementary data. At the time of this post, the paper does not yet have an entry on PubPeer.

Here’s the full expression of concern:

Continue reading Post-publication peer review in action: Science flags paper just days after publication

Leibniz Prize belatedly awarded to scientist cleared of misconduct

Just before the March ceremony to bestow the coveted Leibniz Prize, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) received some disturbing allegations. An anonymous tipster accused one of the 10 scientists slotted to receive the award, materials scientist Britta Nestler, of misconduct. So the DFG held the ceremony on March 15, but suspended Nestler’s award.

Four months later, Nestler now has her Leibniz, along with the €2.5 million in prize money. This week, the DFG — which awards the Leibniz — announced that it had given Nestler her prize on July 4, during its annual meeting, after determining the accusations were without merit.

Secretary General of the DFG and Chair of the Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct Dorothee Dzwonnek said in a statement:

Continue reading Leibniz Prize belatedly awarded to scientist cleared of misconduct

Nature Chemistry issues its first retraction

For the first time in its eight-year history, Nature Chemistry has retracted a paper, citing “data integrity issues.”

The 2010 paper, which explored how various iron-based molecules interact with water and ethanol, was withdrawn after the authors uncovered possible duplication in two images.

According to the retraction notice, the authors could not provide the raw data to confirm their findings and could not reproduce the figures because the experimental set-up had been dismantled. The authors subsequently requested the paper be retracted because the issues undermined “our full confidence in the integrity of the study.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Charge transfer to solvent identified using dark channel fluorescence-yield L-edge spectroscopy”: Continue reading Nature Chemistry issues its first retraction

The retraction countdown: How quickly do journals pull papers?

After Tina Wenz was found guilty of scientific misconduct, how long did it take for journals to retract the problematic papers?  The answer: Between three and nine months.

In September 2016, the University of Cologne found that Wenz had committed scientific misconduct in six papers and requested they all be retracted. From that point on, the retraction clock was ticking.

We’ve explored how long it takes a journal to act over the years, and we’ve found that the time between identifying a problem to retracting the paper can vary — and sometimes last years.

In Wenz’s case, one of the papers—published in Cell Metabolism in 2009—had already been retracted in 2015. Three of the remaining five were retracted in December 2016—a 2008 paper in Cell Metabolism, a 2009 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), and a 2009 paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

In January 2017, the journal IUBMB Life pulled a 2014 paper flagged in the investigation. And just over nine months after Wenz was found guilty of misconduct, the last paper—published in 2013 in Mitochondrion—has been retracted.

The most recent notice states that the University of Cologne requested the retractions, after determining that the data had been “inappropriately manipulated.”

Here’s the retraction notice in Mitochondrion:

Continue reading The retraction countdown: How quickly do journals pull papers?