“Highly unusual and unfortunate error” delays retraction two years in high-profile Duke case

As we’ve noted before, “the wheels of scientific publishing turn slowly … but they do (sometimes) turn.” 

More than six years after the first retraction for Erin Pott-Kant, who was part of a group at Duke whose work would unravel amid misconduct allegations and lead to a $112.5 million settlement earlier this year with the U.S. government — and two years after a journal says it first became aware of the issues — a retraction by the group has appeared in Pediatric Research, a Springer Nature title.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Intra-amniotic LPS amplifies hyperoxia-induced airway hyperreactivity in neonatal rats”:

Continue reading “Highly unusual and unfortunate error” delays retraction two years in high-profile Duke case

Criminology saga leads to an expression of concern, and a correction

via Tony Webster/Flickr

Earlier this year, Justin Pickett, a criminologist at the University of Albany at the State University of New York, asked journals to look into potentially problematic data in five papers — including one on which he had been a co-author. 

As we reported in July, Pickett’s request came after he’d received an anonymous email pointing out issues with the data — concerns ranging from “Anomalies in standard errors, coefficients, and p-values” to “Unlikely survey design and data structure.”

At the time, one of the five articles had already received a correction for a “coding error” that changed the results. Pickett requested that the journal retract the paper entirely, but was rebuffed. 

Now, two other journals have taken action on the articles on the list. 

Continue reading Criminology saga leads to an expression of concern, and a correction

UCLA group has three papers retracted

The Journal of Biological Chemistry has retracted three papers by a group from the University of California, Los Angeles, citing problems with the figures. 

Two of the papers, published in 2002, 2004 and 2009, have the same last author, Mark H. Doolittle, who is the first author of the most recent article. Doolittle, who appears to be a highly talented woodworker, has left UCLA and did not respond to a request for comment. 

The retraction notice for the 2002 paper, “Maturation of lipoprotein lipase in the endoplasmic reticulum: Concurrent formation of functional dimers and inactive aggregates,” states: 

Continue reading UCLA group has three papers retracted

University of Kentucky moves to fire researchers after misconduct finding

Xianglin Shi

The University of Kentucky has started termination proceedings against a pair of scientists found guilty of “significant departures from accepted practices of research,” according to the institution. 

The scientists, Xianglin Shi, who up until now had held the William A. Marquard Chair in Cancer Research and served as associate dean for research integration in the UK College of Medicine, and Zhuo Zhang in the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology in the College of Medicine, have lost access to their laboratories, which are shuttered, and other university equipment, UK said in a statement. A third researcher, Donghern Kim, who worked under Zhang, already has been fired in the scandal. 

In October, the university told us that it was aware of the retractions but “not able to provide more information at this time.” The ongoing investigation was first reported in April by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

According to the UK’s announcement today, the inquiry, which began in June 2018, into Shi, Zhang and Kim found that: 

Continue reading University of Kentucky moves to fire researchers after misconduct finding

OSU cancer researcher Carlo Croce loses appeal of New York Times libel suit

Carlo Croce

Carlo Croce, a prolific cancer researcher at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus who was the subject of a 2017 front page story in The New York Times about allegations of misconduct against him, has lost a libel suit that he filed against the newspaper.

As first reported by Courthouse News Service earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit upheld a lower court’s November 2018 ruling tossing most of Croce’s claims. In the ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Moore writes:

Continue reading OSU cancer researcher Carlo Croce loses appeal of New York Times libel suit

Criminologist posts 27-page article explaining why he asked for one of his papers to be retracted

via Tony Webster/Flickr

On Sunday, May 5 of this year, Justin Pickett received an email from a “John Smith” with the subject line “Data irregularities and request for data.”

“There seem to be irregularities in the data and findings in five articles that you published together with two surveys,” the anonymous correspondent wrote. “This document outlines those irregularities.”

Pickett was a co-author on only one of the papers, “Ethnic threat and social control: Examining public support for judicial use of ethnicity in punishment,” which was published in 2011 — the year he earned his PhD from Florida State University (FSU) — in the journal Criminology. The other four papers were published from 2015 to 2019 in Criminology, Law & Society Review, and Social Problems. The only author common to all four was Eric A. Stewart, a professor at FSU.

Continue reading Criminologist posts 27-page article explaining why he asked for one of his papers to be retracted

Georgia State researcher has two papers retracted, eight flagged. He’s not happy about it.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry has retracted two papers by a Georgia State University researcher, as well as flagged eight more with expressions of concern, a move the scientist called “unfair and unjustified.”

Ming-Hui Zou, the common author on all ten papers — as well as on two more that have been corrected by the same journal — is, according to Georgia State,

an internationally recognized researcher in molecular and translational medicine and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Molecular Medicine and associate vice president for research at Georgia State University…

Zou was at the University of Oklahoma when the papers in question were published. He moved to Georgia State in 2015.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Reactive nitrogen species is required for the activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase by statin in vivo,” published in 2008 Zou as the last author: 

Continue reading Georgia State researcher has two papers retracted, eight flagged. He’s not happy about it.

A university requested retractions of eight papers. It took journals a year to yank four of them.

Dee’lite via Flickr

On March 30, 2018, The Ohio State University (OSU) released a 75-page report concluding that Ching-Shih Chen, a cancer researcher, had deviated “from the accepted practices of image handling and figure generation and intentionally falsifying data.” The report recommended the retraction of eight papers.

By the end of August of 2018, Chen had had four papers retracted — one in Cancer Research, two in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, and one in PLoS ONE.

But it wasn’t until more than a year after the report was released that the other four papers — two from Carcinogenesis, one from Clinical Cancer Research, and one from Molecular Cellular Therapeutics — were retracted, all between April 1 and May 1 of this year.

What took so long? Your guess is as good as ours; none of the editors of those journals responded to our requests for comment.

Continue reading A university requested retractions of eight papers. It took journals a year to yank four of them.

Harvard cancer lab subject to federal misconduct probe

Sam W. Lee, a Harvard researcher — or perhaps former Harvard researcher — who has lost three papers to retraction, including one from Nature, now has an expression of concern for another article, this one in Molecular and Cellular Biology.

The notice for that paper, 2000’s “Overexpression of Kinase-Associated Phosphatase (KAP) in Breast and Prostate Cancer and Inhibition of the Transformed Phenotype by Antisense KAP Expression,” reads: Continue reading Harvard cancer lab subject to federal misconduct probe

Joseph Thomas just earned $33.8 million in a $112.5 million settlement with Duke. Here’s his story.

Joseph Thomas

Tomorrow is Joe Thomas’s 35th birthday. And earlier this week, he received quite a birthday present, even if it wasn’t intended that way: Thomas earned a $33.75 million payout from a lawsuit he filed against Duke University six years ago.

As Retraction Watch readers may recall, Thomas was the whistleblower in a case alleging scientific misconduct that Duke settled yesterday for $112.5 million. Our Ivan Oransky has an exclusive profile of him — including how he “celebrated” the settlement — at Medscape. Continue reading Joseph Thomas just earned $33.8 million in a $112.5 million settlement with Duke. Here’s his story.