Russian homeopaths strike again (twice) in virology journal — and a skeptic strikes right back

Alexander Pachin

Homeopathy may not cure disease, but it continues to give journal editors fits, particularly at the hands of a group in Russia that has managed to publish a slew of papers on the spurious practice.

The architect of the effort appears to be one Oleg Epstein, whose company, OOO NPF Materia Medica Holding, makes homeopathic products.

Last May, PLOS ONE retracted a paper by Epstein et al titled “Novel approach to activity evaluation for release-active forms of anti-interferon-gamma antibodies based on enzyme-linked immunoassay.”

The lengthy retraction statement includes the following passages: Continue reading Russian homeopaths strike again (twice) in virology journal — and a skeptic strikes right back

Want to earn $10k per month? Join the “journals mafia”

Is running a journal becoming too much of a drag? Just get help from a new organization that is trying to make an offer that journals can’t refuse.

On a website splashed with pictures that connote classic mob movies (Marlon Brando as The Godfather, Al Pacino, cigars), a new service called “Journals Mafia” tries to convince journals to partner with them, or even sell the publication outright.

The company appears to act as an intermediary between authors and journals — accepting articles, formatting and fixing the language, and submitting it to the journal. Since the authors pay to publish the articles, the company shares the profits with journals that publish the paper — anywhere from $1,000-$10,000 per month:

Continue reading Want to earn $10k per month? Join the “journals mafia”

Mathematician protests retraction, alleging “manhunt”

A math journal has retracted a 2015 paper after three outside experts informed the editors that “the paper contains errors which invalidate its main results.”

According to the retraction notice, published in the July 2017 issue of Manuscripta Mathematica, the author Ilya Karzhemanov “has not admitted to the alleged errors and disagrees with the retraction.”

It’s unclear when exactly the paper was retracted, but Karzhemanov, now associate professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, posted the now-retracted paper on arXiv in June 2017 and explained his “strong disagreement” with the retraction: Continue reading Mathematician protests retraction, alleging “manhunt”

More “unsubstantiated conclusions” partially sink another origin of life paper

OrigLife_ak17A trio of researchers based in Russia is asking to pull another set of figures and a table from a 2008 paper on modeling ATP formation after an investigation found the fourth researcher – the first author on the paper — “falsified or fabricated” the data they reflect.

The paper, in Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, is the second partial retraction from many of the same authors for the same reason. Both journals also issued erratum notices, which read quite similarly. Here’s the latest note:

Continue reading More “unsubstantiated conclusions” partially sink another origin of life paper

Journal retracts part of molecular bio paper due to “unsubstantiated conclusions”

j mol evAll but one of the authors of a 2013 Journal of Molecular Evolution paper have requested a partial retraction due to “erroneous data” and “scientific misconduct” on the part of the remaining author.

The note blames second author Michael Kolesnikov for falsifying data on the formation of ATP. According to the notice, the misconduct was confirmed by a “thorough investigation” by the Bach Institute of Biochemistry in Russia, which no longer employs Kolesnikov.

Here is the note for “Abiotic Photophosphorylation Model Based on Abiogenic Flavin and Pteridine Pigments”: Continue reading Journal retracts part of molecular bio paper due to “unsubstantiated conclusions”

Physics paper sinks amid accusations of unacceptable “overlap”

prl-bannerA paper in Physical Review Letters has been retracted for “overlap” with two other previously published papers.

The notice isn’t available online yet, so we got in touch with American Physical Society (APS) editorial director Dan Kulp for more information. Here’s what he told us about “Anomalous melting scenario of the two-dimensional core-softened system”: Continue reading Physics paper sinks amid accusations of unacceptable “overlap”

“Stupid, it should not be done that way”: Researcher explains how duplications led to a retraction

grondelle
Rienk van Grondelle, via VU

More than two years ago, we wrote about a retraction for duplication in Biophysical Journal prompted by an email from pseudonymous whistleblower Clare Francis. That post generated a robust discussion, including one comment from someone calling himself or herself “Double Dutch.”

This past weekend, the last author of that paper, Rienk van Grondelle, left a lengthy response to that comment in which he explained how the duplication happened. We’ve confirmed that it was van Grondelle who left the comment, which we reproduce here in full (we’ve added paragraph breaks for readability): Continue reading “Stupid, it should not be done that way”: Researcher explains how duplications led to a retraction

Plagiarism forces retraction of Slavic bird flu paper

virosinA group of virologists from Kazakhstan and Russia have lost their 2011 bird flu article in Virologica Sinica. Their offense: plagiarizing from a previous article by a team from Sweden on a similar topic.

The paper, “Phylogenetic Analysis of the Non-structural (NS) Gene of Influenza A Viruses Isolated in Kazakhstan in 2002–2009,” which purported to show that: Continue reading Plagiarism forces retraction of Slavic bird flu paper

Not our problem: Journal bows out of data dispute after U Minn challenges previous statement

cellcyclecoverBack in May we reported on an Expression of Concern in Cell Cycle — a notice that had entered life as a retraction but mysteriously metamorphosed into the less dramatic form. The statement limned a rather bizarre dispute between researchers who crossed paths at the University of Minnesota and are now embroiled in litigation over ownership of the data.

Now, it gets weirder. Responding to further correspondence from the university, the journal has effectively washed its hands of the matter — without bothering to wipe down the sink or hang up the towel.

Here’s the “Comment on Expression of Concern“: Continue reading Not our problem: Journal bows out of data dispute after U Minn challenges previous statement

Amid a legal dispute, journal downgrades a retraction to an expression of concern

cellcyclecoverThe journal Cell Cycle is expressing a “note” of concern about a 2012 paper by a former researcher at the University of Minnesota, who has claimed that her mentor at the institution was violating her copyright. It turns out the journal had briefly retracted the paper, but reversed itself with the expression of concern — a curious about-face that, in our experience, often indicates the work of lawyers.

That seems to be the case here, too.

The article, “Chalcone-based small-molecule inhibitors attenuate malignant phenotype via targeting deubiquitinating enzymes,” was already the subject of an erratum, available here:

Continue reading Amid a legal dispute, journal downgrades a retraction to an expression of concern