A professor specializing in the health of children and pregnant women has left her post at the University of Glasgow, and issued three retractions in recent months.
All three notices — issued by PLOS ONE — mention an investigation at the university, which found signs of data manipulation and falsification. Fiona Lyall, the last author on all three papers, is also the only author in common to all three papers; she did not respond to the journal’s inquiries.
According to the University of Glasgow, the affiliation listed for Lyall, she is no longer based at the university. When we asked about the circumstances of her departure, the spokesperson told us the university has a “commitment to confidentiality,” but noted:
This one gave us pause: A journal recently removed a 1992 paper, providing only a terse explanation — “The above article has been removed at the author’s request.”
Author John Frank Nowikowski tells Retraction Watch he never submitted the article to the Police Journal; it was originally published in the Buenos Aires Herald in Argentina. He asked the journal to remove it because, as a freelance writer, he had expected to be paid for it, but never had been. SAGE purchased the journal from its original publisher, Vathek, in 2014, and agreed to honor the author’s request. But the notice says only that — the 26-year-old article was withdrawn at the author’s request.
The authors of a 2018 paper on how noisy distractions disrupt memory are retracting the article after finding a flaw in their study.
The paper, “Unexpected events disrupt visuomotor working memory and increase guessing,” appeared in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, a publication of the Psychonomic Society. (For those keeping score at home, psychonomics is the study of the laws of the mind.)
The article purported to show that an unexpected “auditory event,” like the sudden blare of a car horn, reduced the ability of people to remember visuomotor cues. Per the abstract:
When a researcher submitted a manuscript to a journal about multimedia tools, she was frustrated to wait 13 months for the journal to make a decision — only to have it reject the paper outright. So imagine how she felt when, days after the paper was rejected, she saw the journal had published a plagiarized version of the paper by a group of different authors.
Clearly, something went very awry here — especially since the journal, Multimedia Tools and Applications (MTAP), has retracted three papers by the same group of authors, all of which plagiarized from unpublished manuscripts by other people.
Of course, one possibility is that an author was a peer reviewer of the manuscripts, and stole the unpublished material — something that unfortunately does happen.
There are four authors in common to all three manuscripts, but only one — corresponding author Chao Xiong of the Changzhou Institute of Technology in China — has responded to any queries from MTAP, according to the retraction notices. As the notices state, Xiong agrees with one of the the retractions, but not the other two. (All of the papers cover similar topics and were submitted around the same time, so it’s unclear why Xiong didn’t object to one retraction.)
Here’s a sample notice, for “Image-based reversible data hiding algorithm toward big multimedia data:”
A researcher in medical ethics has retracted two papers within the last two years after admitting to reusing material from previous publications.
Ezio Di Nucci, based at the University of Copenhagen, claims he “had misunderstood the relevant practices.”
The first retraction, issued in 2017 by the Journal of Value Inquiry, notes the paper “constituted the third verbatim publication of the same text.” The paper “Strategic Bombing, Causal Beliefs, and Double Effect” has only been cited once since it was published in 2016, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.
After that retraction, Di Nucci told us he requested the retraction of a second 2016 article, published by Minds and Machines. The retraction notice for “Habits, Priming and the Explanation of Mindless Action” — which has not yet been indexed — states that “the author misunderstood the practice of re-using one’s own material and apologizes for any inconvenience caused.”
Many publishers have been duped by fake peer reviews, which have brought down more than 600 papers to date. But some continue to get fooled.
Recently, SAGE retracted 10 papers published as part of two special collections in Advances in Mechanical Engineering after discovering the peer review process that had been managed by the guest editors “did not meet the journal’s usual rigorous standards.” After a new set of reviewers looked over the collections, they determined 10 papers included “technical errors,” and the content “did not meet the journal’s required standard of scientific validity.”
Yeah, we’re not exactly sure what happened here, either. SAGE gave us a little extra clarity — but not much.
What happened appears to be a case of “he said, she said:” Littman asked to retract the paper after his lab couldn’t reproduce it, and Huang insists the data remain correct, saying the process had been “unfair and done without due process:”
When the journal issued expressions of concern for four papers co-authored by José Ignacio Rodriguez-Crespo about the allegations (which had also been raised on PubPeer), it notified his institution, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM). The newly issued correction notices explain that UCM investigated the four papers, and the data support the results and conclusions. In two cases, the authors supplied the original data, and in the others, they replicated the experiments.
Rodriguez-Crespo declined to comment, saying only that the journal
Last month, the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition pulled an article on fecal transplantation for a reason that, well, doesn’t pass the sniff test.
The paper, by Sonia Michail of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, appeared online in October 2017 and described a randomized controlled trial of fecal transplants to treat kids with ulcerative colitis. (If you’re interested, here’s an overview of how fecal transplantation works.) The trial, or one awfully like it, is listed on ClinicalTrials.gov, and shows Michail as the lone investigator on the study, which is aiming to gather more than 100 participants.
But the journal retracted the article — which was the subject of a laudatory editorial in the journal pointing readers to the findings — with an entirely opaque statement, saying that the work