Two months after Harvard and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital said they were requesting the retraction of more than 30 papers from a former cardiac stem cell lab there, two American Heart Association journals have retracted more than a dozen papers from the lab.
What Caught Our Attention: We’ve written about the controversy surrounding a commonly used tool to measure whether patients are sticking to their drug regimen, known as the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8). It can cost thousands of dollars — and using it without payment/permission earns researchers a call from a collector, who has used legal threats to compel multiple teams to withdraw their papers (a phenomenon we wrote about in Science). The creator of the tool argues it’s copyrighted, and demanding fees ensures researchers use it properly, which avoids putting patients at risk. We’ve found a notice (paywalled, tsk-tsk) that reveals another group of authors used the tool without permission and, according to the notice, “incorrectly.”
Are there instances when similarities between papers should be fixed by a correction, rather than a retraction?
We’re asking ourselves that question after seeing two journals take very different approaches to a somewhat similar situation. Last year, Frontiers in Physiology retracted a paper by Anastasios Lymperopoulos at Nova Southeastern University in Florida because of an “an unacceptable level of similarity” to a 2009 review article by different authors. But more recently, after Circulation Research discovered another paper co-authored by Lymperopoulos also contained similar text from the same 2009 review, itdecided to correct the passages.
The last author of the Circulation Research paper told us the overlap between the two papers was less than 5%, and the journal never suggested the authors retract the paper.
A paper accidentally credited the wrong researcher with providing part of an experiment.
It turns out that one of the authors supplied an expression vector to a Circulation paper about the molecular underpinnings of atherosclerosis — not the outside researcher originally thanked in the acknowledgements section.
The correction notice to the paper makes the situation sound more mysterious than it appears to be:
A researcher accused of misconduct by an anonymous Japanese blogger has corrected a 2003 paper in Circulation Research, after providing a university investigation with the original source files.
Allegations of fraud have dogged Shokei Kim-Mitsuyama for years, and even caused him to step down from his position as editor in chief at another journal. However, Kim-Mitsuyama and his colleagues call the latest correction a “mistake,” which didn’t affect any of the paper’s conclusions.
We’ve unearthed a total of five publications co-authored by Kim-Mitsuyama that have earned corrections, the latest of which cites an investigation by the university:
Sumitran-Holgersson already has one retraction under her belt — of a 2005 Blood paper, after another investigation concluded the results “cannot be considered reliable.” Sumitran-Holgersson and her husband, co-author Jan Holgersson, did not sign the retraction notice. Both were based at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) at the time, but have since moved to the University of Gothenburg.
An 8th paper has been retracted for Anna Ahimastos, a heart researcher who faked patient records.
It’s the last in a chain of retractions that were the result of an investigation by her former workplace, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Australia. As with the others, she did not agree to the retraction.
An investigation at the University of New South Wales in Australia has led to a fifth retraction for a cancer researcher long accused of misconduct, due to “unresolvable concerns” with some images.
As we reported in December, UNSW cleared Levon Khachigian of misconduct, concluding that his previous issues stemmed from “genuine error or honest oversight.” Now, Circulation Research is retracting one of his papers after an investigation commissioned by UNSW was unable to find electronic records for two similar images from a 2009 paper, nor records of the images in original lab books.
Again, the retraction note affirms that this is not a sign of misconduct:
UNSW has not attributed any instance of research misconduct or responsibility for the unavailability of the original data to Professor Khachigian or to any of the authors of the publication.