What Caught Our Attention: Cornell food marketing researcher Brian Wansink, the one-time media darling who has been dogged by mounting criticism of his findings, has lost another paper to retraction. As we’ve noted in the past, corrections for Wansink’s work tend to be long. This time, “the number of errors is too voluminous to be executed by issuing a correction statement,” according to the retraction notice for a paper about behaviors following weight loss surgery. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Retraction eight as errors in Wansink paper are “too voluminous” for a correction
What Caught Our Attention: We’ve found a fourth retraction for the unlicensed use of a common research tool, an issue we explored in depth for Science last year. Quick recap: When researchers use a copyrighted questionnaire (MMAS-8) without permission, they get a call from its creator Donald Morisky (or his representative), asking them to pay up — sometimes thousands of dollars. There’s another option: Retract the paper. That was the choice made by a group of researchers in Arkansas, who — in a nicely detailed notice — note that, since the scale was developed using federal funds, “they dispute the validity and reasonableness of Dr. Morisky’s demands in light of the National Institutes of Health’s Principles and Guidelines for Recipients of NIH Research Grants and Contracts on Obtaining and Disseminating Biomedical Research Resources.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Should publicly funded research tools be free for researchers to use?
What Caught Our Attention: Soon after the paper appeared, the journal was alerted to the fact its findings were at odds with others in the field. When the editor approached the authors, everything fell apart: The authors couldn’t repeat the experiments, and “were also unsure of the molecular probes that were used in the study.” While it isn’t unusual to have doubts about data — since since research is a process of experimentation — it is odd not to know how your experiment was conducted. The paper was retracted less than two months after it was published. The manuscript was accepted two months after it was submitted in early May, theoretically giving reviewers enough time to catch these issues (along with the authors’ failure to cite relevant papers).
Sometime in the middle of 2015, Jennifer Byrne, professor of molecular oncology at the University of Sydney, began her journey from cancer researcher to a scientific literature sleuth, seeking out potentially problematic papers.
The first step was when she noticed several papers that contained a mistake in a DNA construct which, she believed, meant the papers were not testing the gene in question, associated with multiple cancer types. She started a writing campaign to the journal editors and researchers, with mixed success. But less than two years later, two of the five papers she flagged have already been retracted.
When asked why she spent time away from bench research to examine this issue, Byrne told us: Continue reading What turned a cancer researcher into a literature watchdog?
A journal is reviewing a paper about trends in rape at U.S. colleges after the author realized a mistake.
“Dangerous Colleges: Associations Between School-Level Factors and the Risk of Sexual Victimization of Female Students” found that the risk of rape was higher at large, public institutions, but after the author realized he had made a coding error, he contacted Inside Higher Ed to explain that the risk of rape was higher only at public universities, regardless of their size.
The paper appeared in the June, 2016 issue of the journal; Sophie Mohin, Assistant Managing Editor for publisher Mary Ann Liebert, told us the author alerted the journal to the mistake on July 12: Continue reading Journal taking second look at paper on campus rape
In July 2015, DNA and Cell Biology began routinely scanning manuscript submissions for plagiarism using iThenticate; since then, it’s rejected between four and six manuscripts each month for that reason alone. Additional submissions have been rejected after the journal realized the authors had digitally altered figures. The level of misconduct “shocked” editor-in-chief Carol Shoshkes Reiss, as she wrote in a recent editorial for the journal. She spoke to us about the strict measures the journal has adopted in response to these incidents.
Retraction Watch: Why did you decide to begin scanning submissions for plagiarized text using iThenticate™ software in July, 2015? Did something prompt that decision? Continue reading What happened after a journal decided to get tough on plagiarism?
When a researcher discovered one of the images in her papers was a duplication, she asked the journal to fix it — but the journal decided to retract the paper entirely.
The researcher, Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, is currently being investigated by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden after a number of her papers were questioned on PubPeer. She told us the duplication was the result of ‘‘genuine human error.’’ Tissue Engineering Part A, however, decided the request to swap the image was a ‘‘cause for concern,’’ and chose to retract the paper.
Here’s the retraction notice:
The two retracted papers, along with a third that also contains similar text, all conclude that a certain polymorphism could signal a risk for coronary artery disease among Chinese people, though each paper presents different data. The papers do not have any authors in common; the first authors are all based at different hospitals in China. The editor in chief of one journal told us that some of the reviewers did not use institutional email addresses, which leaves open the possibility that they were fake emails, and the peer-review process was compromised.
Here’s the first retraction notice, for “Fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 polymorphisms and susceptibility to coronary artery disease,” published in DNA and Cell Biology. The notice states the paper contains:
A father and son are fighting over whether a laser therapy they describe as co-authors of a 2015 paper could be harmful to patients, prompting the journal to retract the article.
The small study suggested that the therapy could safely treat patients with glaucoma. But Tomislav Ivandic — the father — alleges that errors in how the study was reported could lead to harmful doses of laser light for patients receiving the therapy. His son and co-author, Boris Ivandic, maintains that the article is accurate.
To err on the side of patient safety, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery retracted “Effects of Photobiomodulation Therapy on Patients with Primary Open Angle Glaucoma: A Pilot Study.”
The retraction note explains the dispute:
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