Imagine you’re a journal editor. A group of authors sends you a request to retract one of their papers, saying that “during figure assembly certain images were inappropriately processed.”
What do you do next? Do you ask some tough questions about just what “inappropriately processed” means? Do you check your files for whether the author’s institution had told you about an investigation into the work? Do you Google the author’s names? Do you…search Retraction Watch?
Carlo Croce, a professor at The Ohio State University in Columbus who has faced multiple investigations into misconduct allegations, has been denied a temporary restraining order that he sought in order to be reinstated as chair of his department.
Croce was forced to step down from the post last year. Magistrate Jennifer D. Hunt, of the Franklin County civil court, wrote in a January 23 decision that
third parties and the public interest will be harmed if a temporary restraining order is granted and Dr. Croce is reinstated as Chair.
A paper in Contraception that purported to show serious flaws in an earlier study of abortion laws and maternal health has been retracted, after the authors of the original study found what were apparently significant flaws in the study doing the debunking.
That’s the short version of this story. The longer version involves years of back-and-forth, accusations of conflict of interest and poor research practice, and lawyers for at least two parties. Be warned: We have an unusual amount of information to quote from here that’s worth following.
As the editor of Contraception, Carolyn Westhoff, put it:
A researcher who studied natural products for cancer at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB), had six papers retracted last month, bringing him to a total of 12.
Four of the recently retracted papers by Santosh Katiyar had appeared in PLOS ONE, and two had been published in Cancer Research. They have together been cited more than 250 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, and are on subjects including compounds found in grape seeds and green tea.
As we’re fond of repeating, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Which doesn’t jibe with the findings in an eye-catching 2018 paper that found people were less fearful of catching a contagious illness if they were in a dark room or were wearing sunglasses.
Fortunately for us, although not for the researchers, we no longer have to live with the cognitive dissonance. The paper, the journal tells us, will be retracted for flaws in the data — which, thanks to the open sharing of data, quickly came to light.
In a first for the CDC, the agency’s premier scientific publication has retracted a 2016 article on suicide, five months after a news story pointed out serious errors in the paper.
The article, initially published as “Suicide Rates by Occupational Group — 17 States, 2012,” had purported to find that farmers were at particularly high risk of suicide. That result in particular caught the attention of a website called The New Food Economy (TNFE), which last June called out what it said were errors in the CDC’s analysis. And on June 29, the journal, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), issued a reader’s note.