Caught Our Notice: Why did Reuters remove a 3.5-year-old story?

Title: Oil producer Afren fires CEO, 3 other executives in scandal

What Caught Our Attention: Two days ago, the news organization Reuters mysteriously withdrew a 2014 story about the firing of four people from now-defunct oil company Afren, including its CEO. The only explanation: “it did not meet Reuters standards for accuracy.”

The executives were fired in 2014 for allegedly receiving unauthorized payments; two have subsequently faced criminal and civil charges. The news agency has retracted articles on rare occasions — but why a news story from nearly four years ago? The 2014 story appeared to report on an announcement from the company on that same day, which corroborates the facts reported in the headline (all that’s left of the original story). Other outlets also covered the same announcement.

All we know about why the 2014 story disappeared is what little a Reuters spokesperson told us:

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Why did Reuters remove a 3.5-year-old story?

Journal retracts and replaces paper because author stole credit for group’s work

An optics journal has retracted and replaced a 2016 paper after discovering that the author took sole credit for a team project.

According to the retraction notice, a University of Leeds review determined that “the research on which the paper was based the work of a team,” not just that of Raied S. Al-Lashi, who was the sole author on the 2016 paper. Continue reading Journal retracts and replaces paper because author stole credit for group’s work

Why detailed retraction notices are important (according to economists)

Adam Cox

When journals retract a paper but don’t explain why, what should readers think? Was the problem as simple as an administrative error by the publisher, or more concerning, like fraud? In a recent paper in Research Policy, economists led by Adam Cox at the University of Portsmouth, UK, analyzed 55 retractions from hundreds of economics journals, mostly issued between 2001 and 2016. (Does that number sound low? It should — a 2012 analysis of retractions in business and economics found they are a relatively rare occurrence.) In the new paper, Cox and his colleagues analyzed how many notices failed to provide detailed information, the potential costs of these information gaps, and what journals should do about it.

Retraction Watch: You used “rational crime theory” to analyze retraction notices and their consequence to offenders in economics. Could you explain briefly how rational crime theory works in this context?

Continue reading Why detailed retraction notices are important (according to economists)

“Absolutely mortified” after unintentionally plagiarizing, author offers to step down from new post

A few months ago, Dirk Werling discovered he had made a horrible mistake: He had inadvertently plagiarized in his recent review.

On January 20, Werling said he came across a 2016 paper while working on a grant and realized he had published some of the text in his 2018 review in Research in Veterinary Science. Werling — based at Royal Veterinary College at the University of London — told Retraction Watch:

I knew I needed to retract my paper.

Continue reading “Absolutely mortified” after unintentionally plagiarizing, author offers to step down from new post

Caught Our Notice: Former rising star loses fourth paper

Title: Haemophilus influenzae responds to glucocorticoids used in asthma therapy by modulation of biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance

What Caught Our Attention: This is the fourth retraction for Robert Ryan, formerly a high-profile researcher studying infections that can be deadly in people with lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis. In 2016, the University of Dundee in Scotland determined that Ryan had committed research misconduct, including misrepresenting clinical data and duplicating images in a dozen different publications. (Ryan tried to appeal the decision, then resigned.) The latest retraction cites a few problems with the paper, including uncertainty about the provenance of some data.

According to the notice, the second-to-last author, George A. O’Toole at Dartmouth, disagrees with the text of the notice, not the decision to retract. We contacted O’Toole, who declined to comment.

We received a statement from Ryan about the retraction:

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Former rising star loses fourth paper

Caught Our Notice: Bioethics article retracted for…ethics violation

Title: Bioethics and Medical Education

What Caught Our Attention: As we’ve said before, you can’t make this stuff up: An article on bioethics had its own ethical issues to deal with. It turns out, the authors had “substantial unreferenced overlap” with another article, that “overlap” including the article’s title. Here’s a side by side comparison of the first page, highlighting the matching text: Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Bioethics article retracted for…ethics violation

BMJ journal pulls case report after UK tabloids publish graphic photos

A BMJ journal has retracted a medical case report about a couple in the United Kingdom who were infected by parasitic worms while on a Caribbean cruise.

The paper in BMJ Case Reports included graphic photos of the patients’ buttocks, the site of the infection, which were republished within a week by UK tabloids.

Specifics about when and why the journal retracted the paper remains unclear. BMJ Publishing Group, the journal, and the corresponding author have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

A UK-based lawyer, who has represented doctors in cases that touch on publishing and media law, told us there could be legal trouble. Martin Soames, of London firm Simons Muirhead & Burton, told Retraction Watch that UK laws governing patient confidentiality or protection of personal information could apply, raising problems for both the publisher and the doctors who wrote the paper. [See update at the end of the post, in which the editor says the paper was removed, and “does not consider that there are any issues of liability.”]  Continue reading BMJ journal pulls case report after UK tabloids publish graphic photos

Should a journal retract a paper the authors didn’t know contained bad data?

A medical journal has retracted a 2016 paper over a series of errors, prompting it to lose faith in the paper overall. The authors have objected to the decision, arguing the errors weren’t their fault and could be revised with a correction — rather than retracting what they consider “an important contribution” to an ongoing debate in medicine.

The paper explored the so-called weekend effect—that patients admitted to the emergency department on the weekend are more likely to die than those admitted on a weekday. Whether the weekend effect is real is not clear. Some studies have supported the phenomenon in certain areas of medicine, but others (including the now-retracted paper) have failed to find an effect.

First author Mohammed A. Mohammed, based at the University of Bradford in the UK, told Retraction Watch that the errors were introduced by one of the hospitals that provided them the data:

Continue reading Should a journal retract a paper the authors didn’t know contained bad data?

Caught Our Notice: Reporter’s inquiry prompts financial disclosure in autism paper

Via Wikimedia

Title: Promoting child-initiated social-communication in children with autism: Son-Rise Program intervention effects

What caught our attention: When journalist Brendan Borrell was investigating a controversial autism treatment program for Spectrum, he came across a study where lead author Kat Houghton failed to disclose a prior relationship with the treatment center that taught the program, called Son-Rise.

The Spectrum article notes:

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Reporter’s inquiry prompts financial disclosure in autism paper

“My dog ate the data:” Eight excuses journal editors hear

As a journal editor, are you tired of hearing the same excuses from authors who are facing allegations of problematic data? If so, you’re not alone.

Recently, an editor of the journal Oncogene co-authored an editorial in the journal listing the types of excuses he often hears — and why none of them is valid. Writing the article with editor Justin Stebbing of Imperial College/Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust is David Sanders of Purdue University. Sanders himself has raised allegations of misconduct against a cancer researcher (and is currently being sued for defamation as a result).

Here are the problematic excuses they encounter:

Continue reading “My dog ate the data:” Eight excuses journal editors hear