Public health journal retracts paper on austerity for “inaccurate and misleading results”

A protest against austerity policies

The American Journal of Public Health has retracted a controversial 2018 paper on the effects of economic austerity in Spain because it contained “inaccurate and misleading” results linking  those policies to a massive spike in premature deaths.

The journal also has published a second piece, by a different group of authors, refuting the central claim of the now-retracted paper. Whereas the first article asserted that austerity in Spain during the mid-2000s led to more than 500,000 excess deaths, the new research says deaths in the country slowed during the country’s economic crisis.

The flawed article, “Austerity policies and mortality in Spain after the financial crisis of 2008,” was written by a group of researchers at the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, on the Canary Islands. The authors claimed that their analysis of the years 2011 to 2015 showed that:

Continue reading Public health journal retracts paper on austerity for “inaccurate and misleading results”

Biochemist in Spain retracts eight papers at once

Carlos López-Otín

A high-profile researcher at the Universidad de Oviedo in Spain has retracted eight papers from the Journal of Biological Chemistry for figure issues.

All of the papers were co-authored by Carlos López-Otín, who studies a group of enzymes that break down proteins, cancer genomics and aging, and whose lab web site boasts that

His works have been collected in more than 400 articles in international journals and have been cited to date more than 44.000 times, with an aggregate Hirsch index of h=100.

A representative notice: Continue reading Biochemist in Spain retracts eight papers at once

After probe, journal removes flag from four papers, corrects manipulated images

Last year, Journal of Cell Science added notices to four papers after a reader contacted the editors with some concerns about issues with the figures. Now, it’s replacing the previous editorial notices with corrections, which address duplicated images and data.

When the journal issued expressions of concern for four papers co-authored by José Ignacio Rodriguez-Crespo about the allegations (which had also been raised on PubPeer), it notified his institution, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM). The newly issued correction notices explain that UCM investigated the four papers, and the data support the results and conclusions. In two cases, the authors supplied the original data, and in the others, they replicated the experiments.

Rodriguez-Crespo declined to comment, saying only that the journal

Continue reading After probe, journal removes flag from four papers, corrects manipulated images

Dental journal pulls a dozen papers for recycled images and “unreliable data”

A leading orthodontics journal has retracted 12 papers after determining that they contained either reused images, questionable data or both. Several of the articles involved experiments conducted in dogs — and one person familiar with the case told us that the duplication was an attempt to avoid sacrificing more animals than necessary for the research.  

Although the list of authors on the articles varies, the common denominator is Jose Luis Calvo-Guirado, of the UCAM Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, in Spain. Calvo-Guirado’s title at the institution is director de la Cátedra Internacional de Investigación en Odontología, which Google translates as director of the International Research Chair in Dentistry.  Calvo-Guirado also holds (or has held) a research professorship at SUNY Stony Brook in the Department of Prosthodontics and Digital Medicine, according to his CV.

Calvo-Guirado’s name is on at least 187 entries in PubMed. Of those, 40 appeared in Clinical Oral Implants Research, a Wiley title on whose editorial board the researcher served, according to his CV.  

Continue reading Dental journal pulls a dozen papers for recycled images and “unreliable data”

Whoops: Authors didn’t mean to include new data in article about transgender identity

Here’s something we don’t see that often — authors retracting one of their articles because it included new data.

But that is the case with a 2017 review exploring the potential genetic and hormonal underpinnings of gender identity.  The authors Rosa Fernández García and Eduardo Pásaro Mendez told Retraction Watch that they asked bioethics journal Cuadernos de Bioética to withdraw their review after realizing it “indirectly” mentioned some of their unpublished work. According to García, the authors had hoped to publish the new data in a scientific paper before the review came out, but the review ended up being published first.  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Is Sexual Identity Optional? A Study of The Genetics of Transsexuality:”

Continue reading Whoops: Authors didn’t mean to include new data in article about transgender identity

PNAS wouldn’t let authors cite unpublished manuscript. Now, it admits it was wrong.

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When researchers submitted a paper about a type of microparticle to PNAS, they wanted to give credit where it was due, and cite an unpublished manuscript that helped guide their work. But the journal’s policy forbid citing unpublished work, and the reference was removed before publication. Now, concerns from the authors of that unpublished work have prompted the journal to have a change of heart.  

Continue reading PNAS wouldn’t let authors cite unpublished manuscript. Now, it admits it was wrong.

Child took wrong compound for over a year after “communication error”

Credit: Steven Depolo, Flickr

A journal is retracting a paper after it discovered researchers gave a child the wrong supplement for more than a year.

Rhiannon Bugno, managing editor for Biological Psychiatry, told Retraction Watch the mix-up did not put the patient at risk. However, the mistake was enough for the journal’s editor, John Krystal, of Yale University, to request the retraction of a 2016 paper describing the young girl’s experience taking the compound,“Rett-like Severe Encephalopathy Caused by a De Novo GRIN2B Mutation Is Attenuated by D-serine Dietary Supplement.”

Originally published June 17, 2016, the paper was retracted Jan. 15. Led by corresponding author Xavier Altafaj, of the University of Barcelona (UB) and Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), researchers described using an amino acid, D-serine, to treat a child with a rare genetic disorder that affects neurons.

According to the notice, the researchers did use D-serine in lab work used as proof-of-concept; however, when it came time to try it in the patient, as a result of a “communication error:”

Continue reading Child took wrong compound for over a year after “communication error”

Lead author changes co-author’s name on a paper without his permission. Why?

Here’s a rather odd case: A postdoctoral researcher says his former boss changed his name on a paper without his permission. According to the postdoc, Antonio Herrera-Merchan, his principal investigator at University of Granada insisted on the name change to distance them both from a scandal in Herrera-Merchan’s previous lab.

After publishing a paper in Oncotarget in October 2017, Herrera-Merchan’s name was changed on the paper. Now, two versions of the paper exist: an earlier version that lists Antonio Herrera-Merchan as first author, and the current version that spells his name without “Merchan.”*  

We’ve obtained an email exchange between his former boss, Pedro Medina, and Oncotarget, requesting the name change.

Medina told us Herrera-Merchan always used the name “Herrera” in his lab: Continue reading Lead author changes co-author’s name on a paper without his permission. Why?

Author wins judgment against Elsevier in lawsuit over retraction

The author of a 2009 commentary exploring “sexually specific infanticide” in bears has won a judgment against Elsevier for using “untruthful and unverified” language in a 2011 retraction notice.

The last author, Miguel Delibes, who filed the suit in 2014, explained that the judge ruled he should accept the journal’s decision to retract his paper, but “confirmed that my honorability had been damaged” by the false accusation in the original retraction notice. According to a new note on the paper from the publisher, the court required the journal to publish part of its ruling to correct the record. Continue reading Author wins judgment against Elsevier in lawsuit over retraction

Caught Our Notice: Dear peer reviewer, please read the methods section. Sincerely, everyone

Via Wikimedia

TitlePlasma contributes to the antimicrobial activity of whole blood against Mycobacterium tuberculosis

What Caught Our Attention: A big peer review (and perhaps academic mentorship) fail.  These researchers used the wrong anticoagulant for their blood samples, leading them to believe that certain blood components were fighting microbes. The authors counted the number of colonies to show how well or poorly Tuberculin mycobacteria were growing in cultures — but blood samples need anticoagulants to prevent clots before analysis, and they used an anticoagulant that actually prevented the microbes from colonizing. The authors (and reviewers) should have known this from  Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Dear peer reviewer, please read the methods section. Sincerely, everyone