‘Exhausting’: Author finds another’s name on an Elsevier book chapter she wrote

Ina Vandebroek

When Ina Vandebroek read the latest edition of Pharmacognosy, an Elsevier textbook to which she contributed a chapter for the 2017 edition, she was shocked. Although she had declined to write for the 2023 update, her chapter was still in the book, under a different author’s name.

“When I first saw this, it was like somebody hit me on the head with a hammer and everything that I’d worked for all my life was put into question,” Vandebroek, an ethnobotanist and senior research fellow at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Kingston, Jamaica, told Retraction Watch. “This shakes my foundation of what I think science should stand for.”

The situation arose when one of the textbook’s editors, Simone Ann Marie Badal, a researcher at UWI, asked if Vandebroek wanted to revise her chapter for the new edition. Vandebroek declined, assuming her chapter would be omitted from the book.

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Journal hijackers still infiltrate Scopus despite its efforts

Anna Abalkina

Last December, Elsevier’s Scopus index deleted all links to journal homepages in response to the widespread issue of journal hijacking, when a legitimate title, website, ISSN, and other metadata of a journal are taken over without permission. 

Scopus has been a major target. I’ve cataloged 67 cases since 2013 of hijacked journals penetrating the database.  I found 23 profiles of journals that contained links to a cloned version, and 33 cases of content from the cloned version of a journal that had not been peer reviewed appearing in the profile of the legitimate journal, while 11 did both.

Since the deletion of all homepage links in the profiles of journals in Scopus, how journal hijackers would adapt their shady business practices has been unclear. We assumed they would continue hijacking new journals,  would they continue to target Scopus, given they could index only unauthorized content? 

Now, we have evidence hijacked journals remain in the database and continue to infiltrate it.

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Wiley journal retracts two papers it said were fine following criticism years ago

Mark Bolland

Two years after a journal told sleuths it wouldn’t retract flawed papers, it changed course and pulled them.  

Mark Bolland, a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who is no stranger to unearthing academic wrongdoing, first sent complaints about one of the papers to The International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (IJGO)  in March 2021. He said the data on bone mineral density in “Isosorbide mononitrate versus alendronate for postmenopausal osteoporosis,” which has been cited 26 times according to Clarivate’s Web of Science, were “impossible.”

Bolland said the data the researchers reported were not consistent with the reference values provided by the maker of the device used to measure bone density in the study. The normal ranges are 0.96 +/- 0.12 g/cm2, whereas the experiment reported much lower values of 0.21-0.24 g/cm2.

In an email to Retraction Watch, Bolland’s colleague Andrew Grey called the data “laughable, frankly.”

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Editor and authors refuse to share data of paper containing alleged statistical errors

Olivia Robertson

Last July, David Allison and his students identified what they considered to be fatal errors in a paper that had appeared in Elsevier’s Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.

The authors of the article, led by Sergio Di Molfetta, of University of Bari Aldo Moro in Bari, Italy, used a cluster randomized controlled trial, but did an improper statistical analysis, according to Allison’s group. 

In August, Allison, dean of Indiana University’s School of Public Health in Bloomington, and his colleagues requested the authors’ data.

Then they hit a wall.

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Elsevier journal issues 73 expressions of concern for manipulated peer review

An Elsevier journal has expressed concern over 73 papers with evidence of manipulated peer-review and rigged citations.  

Last July, we reported that Masoud Afrand, a former member of the editorial board of Engineering Analysis with Boundary Elements, had been linked to paper mill activity. At the time, Alexander Cheng, the journal’s editor in chief said Afrand had been asked to step down due to “unethical publication conduct.” (For other coverage of the journal since then, see this post by Maarten van Kampen and Alexander Magazinov.)

Cheng told Retraction Watch the journal is investigating the “temporary” expressions of concern. “Findings will be published, and actions will be taken, once investigations are completed,” he said.

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MDPI backtracks on claim that a thesis can’t be plagiarized

The publisher MDPI has reversed itself on one reason it said a paper does not need to be retracted following allegations the authors had plagiarized a thesis.

As we reported earlier this week, the editorial office at Nutrients told Solange Saxby, a postdoctoral research fellow at Dartmouth Health in Lebanon, NH, in May that it didn’t consider apparent overlap between a 2023 paper and her 2020 thesis plagiarism “because thesis materials are not classified as prior publications.”

Yesterday, MDPI did a 180, blaming a “mismatch in their internal communications” for the responses Saxby received.

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‘A disturbing experience’: Postdoc fights to have work that plagiarized her thesis retracted

Solange Saxby

In December, Solange Saxby, a postdoctoral research fellow at Dartmouth Health in Lebanon, New Hampshire, was notified by her friend of a paper published in the MDPI journal Nutrients that sounded similar to her dissertation. Saxby pulled up her 2020 dissertation, “The Potential of Taro (Colocasia esculenta) as a Dietary Prebiotic Source for the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer,” and compared it to the 2023 Nutrients article. 

To her dismay, the paper “Taro Roots: An Underexploited Root Crop,” co-authored by researchers at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, overlaps significantly with Saxby’s work, including some passages of word-for-word copying with no citation.  

While the corresponding author of the paper has called the omission of any citation to Saxby’s work “unfortunate” and said that she is working with Nutrients’ publisher – MDPI – to add one, the publisher said the behavior did not amount to plagiarism because the prior work was a thesis.

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Give or take a year or two: Case reveals publishers’ vastly different retraction times

Eric Ross

On March 1, 2022, Eric Ross, then a psychiatrist-in-training in Boston, alerted two major publishers to a pair of disturbingly similar papers he suspected had been “fabricated.” 

“The articles are written by the same corresponding author and contain much of the same unrealistic data,” Ross, now an assistant professor at the University of Vermont, in Burlington, wrote in an email whose recipients included the editors-in-chief of Wiley’s CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics and Springer Nature’s Neurotherapeutics.

Ross listed several “red flags” he felt clearly pointed to “research misconduct” in the two papers, which reported on two separate clinical trials of new antidepressant add-on medications (metformin and cilostazol). He also emphasized that fake medical research could have real consequences:

Continue reading Give or take a year or two: Case reveals publishers’ vastly different retraction times

A study of C-section scars – in women who hadn’t undergone the surgery

A study purportedly of scars left by caesarean sections included women yet to undergo the surgery, say sleuths. But an investigation into the research by the author’s employer and the journal that published it found no evidence of research misconduct.

The paper, published in Wiley journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, was flagged on PubPeer in February by Ben Mol, an ob-gyn researcher at Monash University in Australia whose efforts have led to scores of retractions and corrections, and Jim Thornton, emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Nottingham, in the UK. The study looks at how the scar left behind on a woman’s uterus after a c-section is affected by the dilation of her cervix at the time of the procedure.

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Publisher retracts more than a dozen papers at once for likely paper mill activity

The Scottish Medical Journal has retracted more than a dozen papers dating back to 2020 after concluding the articles were likely produced by one or more paper mills.

The articles, all by researchers in China, covered a range of topics including back pain, pancreatic cancer, hand hygiene and sepsis. Most were meta-analyses. 

Here’s the blanket notice for the 13 papers, which the publisher, Sage, lists by url but not title:  

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