Stanford prof plans to drop $10m suit against PNAS and critic

Mark Jacobson

A professor who is suing a journal publisher and critic for defamation has announced he plans to drop the case.

Yesterday, Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson announced on Twitter that he plans to “voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit” he filed last year in the District of Columbia, in which he alleged he was defamed when the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a paper critical of his research on the future of renewable energy. Continue reading Stanford prof plans to drop $10m suit against PNAS and critic

“Major advance” in solar power retracted for reproducibility issues

The authors of a highly cited 2016 research letter on a way to improve the efficiency of solar panels have retracted their work following “concerns about the reproducibility.”

Given the potential importance of the data, it would be nice to know what exactly went wrong, and why. However, the retraction notice doesn’t provide many details, and doesn’t even specify if the authors did indeed fail to reproduce the data.

The letter, titled “Graded bandgap perovskite solar cells,” was published in Nature Materials by a group out of the University of California at Berkeley and the affiliated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The 2016 article has been cited 16 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, earning it the ranking of “highly cited.”

Berkeley heralded the findings in a press release as a “major advance” in the field of solar energy:

Continue reading “Major advance” in solar power retracted for reproducibility issues

“The sampling had been compromised:” MD Anderson researchers retract cancer study

Erich Sturgis

Researchers from the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center have retracted a 2015 paper after they discovered their samples had been compromised.

Exactly how the samples were compromised, and how and when the researchers found out, remains unclear.

Originally published March 30, 2015, in Cancer, “Genome-wide association study identifies common genetic variants associated with salivary gland carcinoma and its subtypes” reported that at least three protein-coding gene variants were associated with rare salivary gland cancers. In the paper, the authors — all but one of whom are affiliated with MD Anderson — cautioned that they still needed to confirm the findings and figure out the mechanism by which the genes might increase the risk of cancer.

On Oct. 23, 2017, the researchers asked the journal to either correct or withdraw the paper. According to the retraction notice issued Jan. 9, the researchers had discovered: Continue reading “The sampling had been compromised:” MD Anderson researchers retract cancer study

Caught Our Notice: Brian Wansink issues correction that’s longer than original paper

Title: Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools

What Caught Our Attention: One thing can be said for the corrections for Brian Wansink‘s papers — they aren’t short.  After James Heathers outlined some of his concerns about the highly cited study back in March, 2017, the journal has issued a correction, and it’s longer (1636 words) than the original, highly cited paper (1401 words). Some of the changes include explaining the children studied were preschoolers (3-5 years old), not preteens (8-11), as originally claimed. (It may be hard to imagine how the authors could make such a mistake, but they did it once before, in another retracted paper.) Even with all those words explaining the correction — we’re only including an excerpt of the entire notice below — some concerns still remain: Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Brian Wansink issues correction that’s longer than original paper

Unusual: Author uses a reference list to accuse a paper of plagiarism

Here’s an unusual way to allege plagiarism: Do it in the reference list.

That’s what Brian Levine, a professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, did when he came across a paper he wanted to cite but suspected of plagiarism. When Levine published his 2017 paper, he cited the paper in question as:  

R.Rajan, “ Feasibility, Effectiveness, Performance and Potential Solutions on Distributed Content Sharing System [plagiarized],” Intl. J. Engineering and Computer Science, 5(1):15638–15649, Jan 2016 http://www.ijecs.in/ issue/v5- i1/30%20ijecs.pdf.

Levine’s paper, which explores a way of identifying perpetrators of online child pornography, provides no further details about the nature of the plagiarism or from what source the paper allegedly plagiarized. Continue reading Unusual: Author uses a reference list to accuse a paper of plagiarism

Study that said hate cuts 12 years off gay lives fails to replicate

A highly cited paper has received a major correction as a result of the ongoing battle over attitudes towards gay people, when a prominent — and polarizing — critic showed it could not be replicated.  

In December 2017, researchers led by Mark Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University corrected the paper, originally published in Social Science & Medicine in February 2014, which showed that gay people who live in areas where people were highly prejudiced against them had a significantly shorter life expectancy. The corrigendum came more than a year after a researcher who has testified against same-sex marriage was unable to replicate the original study.

“Structural stigma and all-cause mortality in sexual minority populations,” has been cited 102 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, and attracted media coverage when it was published, from outlets such as Reuters and U.S. News & World Report.

Continue reading Study that said hate cuts 12 years off gay lives fails to replicate

Journal retracts paper after discovering lead author forged co-author’s signature

A pharmacy journal has retracted a 2017 cancer paper after determining that the lead author forged her co-author’s signature.

Alain Li Wan Po, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, told Retraction Watch that, after discovering the forgery, the journal lost confidence in “the integrity of the whole report,” and decided to retract it:

Our judgment was that if an author is willing to forge a signature, we cannot be sure of the integrity of the whole report and decided on the retraction.

According to Po, the paper’s lead author, Yan Wang, objected to the retraction because “she maintained that the data were accurate.” So the editors retracted the paper without her approval — but with the agreement of the author Jatinder Lamba, whose name was forged.

How did the journal discover the forged signature?

Continue reading Journal retracts paper after discovering lead author forged co-author’s signature

Caught Our Notice: Oops, wrong species

Title: Virulent Diuraphis noxia Aphids Over-Express Calcium Signaling Proteins to Overcome Defenses of Aphid-Resistant Wheat Plants

What Caught Our Attention: Sadly, it’s not uncommon for researchers to mistake the identity of what they’re working with — but not everyone comes clean and works to transparently correct the record. So it’s nice to see some authors among a group based in the US and India take the initiative to retract their paper after realizing they had based some of their conclusions on the wrong species of aphid. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Oops, wrong species

“The most terrible experience of my life:” Authorship dispute leads to lawsuit

A journal has retracted a 2014 paper because of an authorship dispute that became the subject of litigation.

Last year, the Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh requested the paper be retracted to resolve the dispute. The Journal of Applied Biomaterials & Functional Materials retracted the paper in October.

According to the retraction notice, the principal investigator of a clinical trial on which some of the study is based was not included as a co-author, and claimed he had not “validated the accuracy of the data.”

The notice does not mention a lawsuit, but a letter from the authors’ research institution does.

Continue reading “The most terrible experience of my life:” Authorship dispute leads to lawsuit

Fracking paper overstated size of methane leak from Marcellus Shale, earning retraction

via Greens-EFA

Last spring, a group of environmental scientists reported an impressive finding: Hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking) in the Marcellus Shale region of the eastern United States was leaking enough methane to power a city twice the size of Washington, D.C. (We didn’t come up with that comparison, apt though it may be.)

Turns out that wasn’t true. Continue reading Fracking paper overstated size of methane leak from Marcellus Shale, earning retraction