Caught Our Notice: Climate change leads to more…neurosurgery for polar bears?

Title: Internet Blogs, Polar Bears, and Climate-Change Denial by Proxy

What Caught Our Attention: There’s a lot going on here, so bear with us. (Ba-dum-bum.)

First, there was the paper itself, co-authored by, among others, Michael Mann and Stephan Lewandowsky. Both names may be familiar to Retraction Watch readers. Mann is a prominent climate scientist who has sued the National Review for defamation. A study by Lewandowsky and colleagues of “the role of conspiracist ideation in climate denial” was the subject of several Retraction Watch posts when it was retracted and then republished in a different form. And the conclusion of the new paper, in Bioscience, seemed likely to draw the ire of many who objected to the earlier work: Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Climate change leads to more…neurosurgery for polar bears?

University requests 4th retraction for psychologist under fire

Jens Förster

The University of Amsterdam has requested another retraction for a prominent social psychologist, after reviewing the dissertations he supervised while at the university.

The university made the announcement this week after reviewing the theses supervised by Jens Förster, whose own work has been subject to considerable scrutiny.

The results of this investigation come more than two years after an initial probe into Förster’s work, which found several of his papers likely contained unreliable data; three of these papers have been retracted and four have received expressions of concern. Förster, who recently left his position at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany to start a private psychology practice, has always maintained that he did not manipulate his data. In 2015, he turned down a professorship, citing the toll the investigation had taken. Continue reading University requests 4th retraction for psychologist under fire

Obsessed with getting cited? You may have “Publiphilia Impactfactorius”

Joeri Tijdink

As a scientist, are you always focused on improving your metrics by such means as getting papers into prestigious journals? Do your funders and institutions add to that pressure to get ahead? If so, you may be at risk of a new psychiatric condition known as “Publiphilia Impactfactorius” — or, simply, PI, described in a PeerJ preprint. We talked to first author Joeri Tijdink at VU Medical Center (VUmc) in Amsterdam about this tongue-in-cheek take-down of the scientific condition, and whether there is any cure for the affliction.

Retraction Watch: You describe several new personality traits and clusters. Tell us more about this.

Continue reading Obsessed with getting cited? You may have “Publiphilia Impactfactorius”

What types of researchers are most likely to recycle text? The answers might surprise you

Willem Halffman
Serge Horbach

Historians, economists, biochemists, psychologists: Who reuses their own material most often? Does the rate depend on how many authors a paper has, and how far along a researcher is in his or her career? Serge Horbach and Willem Halffman at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands tried to answer these questions by reviewing more than 900 papers published by researchers based in The Netherlands. And they were surprised by their findings, published last month by Research Policy.

Retraction Watch: How does the amount of text recycling you identified among researchers at Dutch universities (6.1%) compare to what other studies have shown among other groups of researchers?

Continue reading What types of researchers are most likely to recycle text? The answers might surprise you

Journal adds concern notice to paper by psychologist Jens Förster

A social psychology journal has added an expression of concern to a paper by prominent social psychologist Jens Förster, whose work has been subject to much scrutiny.

This is the latest in a long-running saga involving Förster. The 2012 paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology had been flagged by a 2015 report describing an investigation into Förster’s work, which had concluded the paper likely contained unreliable data. Several other papers that received similar designations in that report have either been retracted or received expressions of concern (EoC).

The (paywalled) notice provides a lengthy explanation for why the journal chose to add an EoC, rather than retract the paper, as the University of Amsterdam had recommended. Here is an excerpt:

Continue reading Journal adds concern notice to paper by psychologist Jens Förster

Miffed at exclusion from a meta-analysis, researcher writes own “expression of concern”

On June 10, Psycho-Oncology, a journal that publishes research on the “psychological, social, behavioral, and ethical” side of cancer, received a complaint.

In a letter, Ad Kaptein, a researcher at the Leiden University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands, wrote to say that a review and meta-analysis published by the journal that month hadn’t adequately cited the relevant literature in the field, including seven studies co-authored by Kaptein himself. The authors of the original paper say they had considered citing Kaptein’s work but decided against it, for various reasons.

The journal considered Kaptein’s complaint valid enough to publish his letter. But the letter carries the title “Expression of concern” — a term usually reserved for editorial notices issued by the journal to warn readers about some aspects of an article. But in this case, the author supplied the term, not the journal — yet the letter is tagged as an Expression of Concern on PubMed, giving the impression the paper has received a formal editorial notice.

Journal Co-Editor Maggie Watson told Retraction Watch:

Continue reading Miffed at exclusion from a meta-analysis, researcher writes own “expression of concern”

Surgery journal retracts two papers it didn’t mean to publish

The Annals of Surgery has retracted two papers it never intended to publish.

According to journal’s editor, Keith Lillemoe, the papers—published in 2015, two months apart—had undergone full peer review and were rejected, “like 90% of submissions to our journal:”

The decision was clear and the authors were notified.

But somehow, Lillemoe said, “our publishing team mistakenly published the papers and placed them into [e-pub] status totally unbeknownst to the editorial team.”

The authors of one paper told us they were unhappy with how the journal handled the situation.

Lillemoe noted:

Continue reading Surgery journal retracts two papers it didn’t mean to publish

Given “wrong pathology slides,” heart journal retracts paper

A cardiology journal has retracted a paper after the authors were unable to provide correct pathology slides to replace the wrong ones submitted with the original manuscript.

The paper is titled “Aortic Valve Endocarditis and Coronary Angiography With Cerebral Embolic Protection,” published on April 10, 2017 in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions (JACC:CI). It has not yet been cited, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

JACC:CI retracted the paper on Aug. 14, providing this notice: Continue reading Given “wrong pathology slides,” heart journal retracts paper

Genetic disorder gets name change, but patient’s father still not happy

Credit: Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man

The leading genetic disease database has chosen a new name for a genetic condition, following complaints from a man whose son has the condition.

On Aug. 11, 2017, two days after our coverage of the situation, the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) database changed the primary name of the phenotype associated with mutations in the RPS23 gene. The new name describes a set of features: “Brachycephaly, Trichomegaly, and Developmental Delay,” or BTDD.

Brachycephaly describes a condition where the back of the head is abnormally flat and trichomegaly refers to extra length, curling, pigmentation, or thickness of the eyelashes.

Marc Pieterse, of the Netherlands, has a son with the rare RPS23 mutation, one of two known patients in the world. The mutation affects ribosomes, cell components involved in protein production. On Aug. 9, we reported on Pieterse’s crusade against OMIM’s original name for the condition, which dubbed it a syndrome. He has feared that calling it a syndrome would “stigmatize” his son’s condition and tried to get the paper underpinning the OMIM entry retracted. The American Journal of Human Genetics has said it will not retract the paper.

Continue reading Genetic disorder gets name change, but patient’s father still not happy

Fearing “stigmatization,” patient’s father seeks retraction of paper on rare genetic mutation

The father of a boy with a rare genetic mutation has accused a scientist of exploiting his child by proclaiming the defect a “genetic syndrome” and naming it after herself.

At an impasse with scientists investigating, publicizing, and interpreting his son’s condition, the father seems willing to use any leverage he can muster to remove the “syndrome” entry in an online genetic disease database. Based solely on an email he obtained from the database director, the father became convinced that if the paper underpinning the entry were retracted, the syndrome would go down with it. So earlier this year, he withdrew his consent and asked the journal that published the paper for a retraction, based on improper patient consent. He has also threatened to lob accusations of research misconduct at the paper’s last author. Continue reading Fearing “stigmatization,” patient’s father seeks retraction of paper on rare genetic mutation