A mathematics journal has withdrawn a paper after discovering that the results were not new.
The paper, published online in March in Communications in Algebra, explored the properties of group rings, a discipline of algebra. According to editor-in-chief of the journal, Jason Bell, author Francis E. A. Johnson, a professor of mathematics at the University College London, devised a property associated with group rings, and defined it using the term “weakly finite.” But, at the time, Johnson was not aware that other experts had already defined the same property, using the term “stably finite.”
Bell, a professor of mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and Lance Small, the journal’s other editor-in-chief, stressed that this issue was “definitely not a matter of plagiarism.” Bell and Small told us in a joint statement that “it was ultimately no one’s fault—it is just one of these things that can happen occasionally in mathematics research.” But given the overlap, the editors thought it best to withdraw the paper, they said:Continue reading No new math: Journal pulls math paper with “already known” results
Plant scientists have issued two retractions after noticing several images had been duplicated within and across the papers.
The papers both appeared in March 2002 in The Plant Cell and The Plant Journal.
The last author on both papers — Jonathan Jones, a professor and group leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK — took responsibility for the duplications. He told us:
As last author I was responsible for checking the papers but did not notice the similarities between figures in the different papers. I regret this and took action as soon as I realized there was an issue. Both papers went through peer review and the issue was not picked up at that point either.
Susana Rivas, the first author on both papers, has collaborated with beleaguered plant scientist Oliver Voinnet — and was a second author on one of his eight retractions (which we covered here).
Some accidental mistakes have led researchers to issue a long correction to a 2016 PNAS paper.
According to the notice, when the cell biology paper’s corresponding authors became aware of duplications in two images, they immediately notified the journal and the University of Nottingham. After examining the original data archives, the university found that the authors generated the correct images, but the person who prepared the figures selected the wrong images from the data archive.
There have been numerous requests for data from the “PACE” trial, as the clinical trial is known. Patients and advocates have long disputed the results, arguing that suggesting cognitive behavior and graded exercise therapy could cause harm.
In the latest notice, the journal says it consulted two editorial board members about the paper, a 2012 sub analysis of a controversial clinical trial on chronic fatigue syndrome. The journal then asked the authors to provide the data behind five tables, which would enable researchers to replicate the cost-effectiveness analyses the authors report for different therapies — including graded exercise therapy, which some patient advocates believe could be harmful.
As with previous requests for data, the authors refused to provide it, citing patient confidentiality and consent. The notice explains:
A pharmacology journal has retracted a 2011 paper after concluding images in three figures had been manipulated.
According to the British Journal of Pharmacology, four of the five authors claim they played no role in the manipulation. There is no comment from the remaining author, first author Ian Morecroft, a research associate at the University of Glasgow.
Here’s more from the notice, which says an investigation at the University of Glasgow is ongoing:
According to an internal email to staff forwarded to us last year, the university concluded that Robert Ryan had misrepresented clinical data and images in 12 different publications. The first retraction, published by Molecular Microbiology, cites image duplications in multiple figures.
From time to time, academics will devise a “sting” operation, designed to expose journals’ weaknesses. We’ve seen scientists submit a duplicated paper, a deeply flawed weight loss paper designed to generate splashy headlines (it worked), and an entirely fake paper – where even the author calls it a “pile of dung.” So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Katarzyna Pisanski at the University of Sussex and her colleagues found that so-called “predatory” journals – which are allegedly willing to publish subpar papers as long as the authors pay fees – often accepted a fake editor to join their team. In a new Nature Comment, Pisanski and her team (Piotr Sorokowski, Emek Kulczycki and Agnieszka Sorokowska) describe creating a profile of a fake scientist named Anna O. Szust (Oszust means “a fraud” in Polish). Despite the fact that Szust never published a single scholarly article and had no experience as a reviewer or editor, approximately one-third of predatory journals accepted Szust’s application as an editor. We spoke with Pisanski about the project.
Retraction Watch: What made you conceive of this project, and what did you hope to accomplish?
When zoologists at the University of Oxford published findings in Science last year suggesting ducklings can learn to identify shapes and colors without training (unlike other animals), the news media was entranced.
However, critics of the study have published a pair of papers questioning the findings, saying the data likely stem from chance alone. Still, the critics told us they don’t believe the findings should be retracted.
If a duckling is shown an image, can it pick out another from a set that has the same shape or color? Antone Martinho III and Alex Kacelnik say yes. In one experiment, 32 out of 47 ducklings preferred pairs of shapes they were originally shown. In the second experiment, 45 out of 66 ducklings preferred the original color. The findings caught the attention of many media outlets, including the New York Times, The Atlantic, and BuzzFeed.