Carlo Croce, a cancer researcher who has faced numerous research misconduct allegations, recently accused a former lab member of misconduct. Although an institutional probe did not support that allegation, Croce’s efforts have led to a retraction.
In November 2015, Croce and another cancer researcher at Ohio State University (OSU), Ramiro Garzon, contacted PLOS ONE, alleging that the paper’s corresponding author, Stefan Costinean, published data without their knowledge or permission and without “accurately acknowledging their contributions to the research.” Although the PLOS ONE paper mentioned Croce’s and Garzon’s contributions in the acknowledgements section, the two were not included as co-authors. We have obtained a copy of the report describing OSU’s preliminary probe; it did not find evidence of misconduct, but recommended the paper be retracted for using data without permission. Although Costinean disagreed, the journal has since retracted the paper.
When Retraction Watch began in 2010, our co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus quickly realized they couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of retractions that appeared each year. And the problem has only gotten worse — although we’ve added staff, the number of retractions issued each year has increased dramatically. According to our growing database, just shy of 1,000 retractions were issued last year (and that doesn’t include expressions of concern and errata). So to get new notices in front of readers more quickly, we’ve started a new feature called “Caught our Notice,” where we highlight a recent notice that stood out from the others. If you have any information about what happened, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pfizer has discovered two additional papers that merit retraction from the lab of a former employee. One of the papers, published in Clinical Cancer Research, was retracted earlier this month.
Last year, Pfizer requested retractions of five papers from the lab of breast cancer researcher Min-Jean Yin, who was fired after an investigation revealed image duplication. The papers were first questioned on PubPeer. By April 2017, all five papers had been retracted.
On June 19, 2017,the U.S. Office of Research Integrity published its first misconduct finding of the year. The ORI reported that Brandi M. Baughman — a former research training awardee at the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS) — had “falsified and/or fabricated data” in 11 figures in a 2016 paper published in PLOS ONE.
This is the first finding of misconduct issued this year by the ORI.
According to the finding, published in the Federal Register, Brandi M. Baughman — formerly at the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS) — tweaked data and text in a PLOS ONE paper about screening for compounds that inhibit an enzyme known as inositol phosphate kinase. According to the notice, however, some of those experiments didn’t proceed as described:
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:
After its investigation, Pfizer asked journals to retract five papers co-authored by Min-Jean Yin. Last week, PLOS ONE retracted the final two remaining papers. Both notices cite image duplications; Yin contacted the journal about one paper, but did not comment on the other retraction.
Here’s the notice for “miR-221 Promotes Tumorigenesis in Human Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells:”
Sure, everyone knows it’s not a good idea to falsify data. But what about somewhat lesser offenses that also undermine the reproducibility of your findings, such as only publishing studies that “work,” and reporting an unexpected finding as something you had predicted from the beginning? In 2012, a survey of more than 2,000 psychologists based in the U.S. found that most admitted to adopting at least one “questionable research practice.” But would psychologists in other countries say the same? (Answer: Yes.) A group of researchers led by Franca Agnoli at the University of Padova posed this question to 277 Italian psychologists; their results appear in PLOS ONE.
Retraction Watch: Why is it important to compare how many researchers engage in questionable practices in different countries?
Two journals have retracted two papers by the same group within months of each other, after editors were independently tipped off that they contained duplicated figures representing different experiments.
The two papers were published by PLOS ONE and The Egyptian Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (EJBMB) in 2015 and 2014, respectively. According to the PLOS ONE paper’s corresponding author, last author Saad A. Noeman from Tanta University in Egypt used the same Figure 1 in both papers, along with another 2013 paper in EJBMB.
Corresponding author Yasser S. El-Sayed, head of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at Damanhour University in Egypt, told us he learned of this issue after a reader brought the figure manipulation and duplication concerns to PLOS ONE’s attention.
El-Sayed said that he tried to figure out what had happened.