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.”
Last year, a researcher cast doubt on a bone scientist’s clinical trials, suggesting some of the findings may not be legitimate. So what’s happened since?
Since 2015, journals have retracted 14 papers by bone researcher Yoshihiro Sato, based at Mitate Hospital in Japan, for issues ranging from self-plagiarism, to problems with data, to including co-authors without their consent. (We covered the latest two retractions this week.) Last year’s analysis identified patterns in more than 30 of Sato’s clinical trials that suggest systematic problems with the results. (Sato has defended his research.)
With doubts cast on Sato’s body of work, we contacted the journals that have published his papers involving human trials, to see if any taken another look at Sato’s work; several responded. While most believe there is little reason to take further action at this time, some told us they are investigating.
Continue reading A shadow was cast on a bone researcher’s work. What are journals doing about his papers?
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, it decided 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.
Here’s the correction notice in Circulation Research:
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:
The journal prompted the university to investigate the paper, which looks at the role of a protein in repairing arteries after an injury.
The retraction notice explains:
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.
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.
Now, the University of Gothenburg has launched its own investigation of the papers questioned on PubPeer, according to Continue reading Biologist’s research under investigation in Sweden after being questioned on PubPeer
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.
The investigation found fabricated patients records in some papers; in other papers, such as the newly retracted 2010 study in Atherosclerosis, the original data source could not be verified. The latest retraction — “A role for plasma transforming growth factor-β and matrix metalloproteinases in aortic aneurysm surveillance in Marfan syndrome?” — followed up on a previous clinical trial, examining how a blood pressure drug might help patients with a life-threatening genetic disorder.
That previous trial — which also included 17 patients with Marfan syndrome treated with either placebo or perindopril — has been retracted from JAMA; the New England Journal of Medicine has also retracted a related letter.
The latest retraction note conveys similar information to the other perindopril/Marfan syndrome retractions: Continue reading 8th retraction appears for researcher who faked patient records
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.
Here’s the retraction note in full for “Angiotensin II-Inducible Smooth Muscle Cell Apoptosis Involves the Angiotensin II Type 2 Receptor, GATA-6 Activation, and FasL-Fas Engagement:” Continue reading Investigation prompts 5th retraction for cancer researcher for “unresolvable concerns”
Piero Anversa, a stem cell researcher who we recently learned is leaving Harvard and Brigham & Women’s Hospital after suing them, has added a disclosure statement to six publications.
The four papers and two letters were published in Circulation, and all bear identical corrections:
Piero Anversa, MD, discloses that he is a member of Analogous, LLC.
The author regrets this omission.
Trouble is, we can’t find a company by that name. What we do know: