What Caught Our Attention: Usually, an Expression of Concern (EOC) offers general language about “concerns regarding the validity of the data” or “concerns regarding the integrity of the study.” Here the language is anything but, saying that 54 Western blot bands within three figures have problems such as “visible pasted joints,” “square border,” and numerous “appear to be the same band.” According to the notice, the authors have not responded to requests for the original blots, so the editors are allowing the article to remain intact, choosing instead “to alert readers to these issues and allow them to arrive at their own conclusions regarding the figures.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: 54 problems in three scientific images equals one expression of concern
A business journal has retracted two papers after the corresponding author admitted he falsified his results.
David DeGeest, an assistant professor in the Department of Management and Marketing, has also resigned from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, a university spokesperson told Retraction Watch.
The papers explored strategies startups can use to increase their odds of survival. The 2015 work was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, among other outlets; one story in Business News Daily is no longer on the site.
David Allen, the editor-in-chief of the journal, told us: Continue reading Management researcher admits to falsification, resigns
What Caught Our Attention: As we’ve said before, you can’t make this stuff up: An article on bioethics had its own ethical issues to deal with. It turns out, the authors had “substantial unreferenced overlap” with another article, that “overlap” including the article’s title. Here’s a side by side comparison of the first page, highlighting the matching text: Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Bioethics article retracted for…ethics violation
Can seeing a weapon increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors?
A meta-analysis on the so-called “weapons effect” has been flagged with an expression of concern by a SAGE journal, after the researchers discovered errors affecting at least one of the main conclusions.
The paper found that the presence of weapons increased people’s aggressiveness, but not feelings of anger. However, the corresponding author, Arlin James Benjamin, who works at University of Arkansas–Fort Smith, told us:
we would urge considerably more caution in interpreting the impact of weapons on behavioral outcomes based on those initial re-analyses.
Last author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University (OSU), was the corresponding author on two now-retracted papers linking video games and violence. Continue reading After losing two video game-violence papers, co-author’s weapons paper is flagged
Last month, a colleague of emergency medicine doctor Daniel Waxman sent him some newly reported findings that took him by surprise. Waxman knew from the title of a press release about the recent paper — “Nearly Half of U.S. Medical Care Comes From Emergency Rooms” — that something was wrong.
Immediately I said, that’s not true. It’s just crazy.
Waxman quickly realized the mistake: The data were based only on care provided in hospitals — much of which, not surprisingly, originates from emergency departments (EDs). But the title of the paper, the abstract, and other places in the text do not specify that. What’s more, the press release about the study says the findings relate to “all medical care.” The journal has since changed the paper, including the title, to make that distinction clear, but not provided any editorial notice indicating the text had been updated. Meanwhile, the press release and news stories about the original study continue to report the “surprising” original findings.
What Caught Our Attention: A big peer review (and perhaps academic mentorship) fail. These researchers used the wrong anticoagulant for their blood samples, leading them to believe that certain blood components were fighting microbes. The authors counted the number of colonies to show how well or poorly Tuberculin mycobacteria were growing in cultures — but blood samples need anticoagulants to prevent clots before analysis, and they used an anticoagulant that actually prevented the microbes from colonizing. The authors (and reviewers) should have known this from Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Dear peer reviewer, please read the methods section. Sincerely, everyone
To be honest, we’re a bit confused about what happened.
The editors—Apoorvanand Jha and Dhruva Narayan—claim that India’s Council for Social Development (CSD), which was publishing the journal in collaboration with SAGE, attempted to stall the launch of the journal after expressing concerns about the content. As a result, both editors have decided to resign from the journal, Samajik Vimarsh, created to publish social science findings in Hindi. An article published in The Wire quotes the director of the CSD, Ashok Pankaj, saying that the council had decided to shutter the journal.
But SAGE told us that the CSD has not interfered in the editorial process and both publishers remain committed to launching the social science journal. The only hold-up, according to SAGE, has been registering the journal with the government’s Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI)—a legal requirement for all journals in India. The CSD website also states that the publisher remains “firmly committed to bringing out the Hindi Journal after meeting the legal requirement.”
Here’s the longer version of the story: Continue reading Editors resign before launch of new journal. What went wrong?
SAGE recently retracted three 2015 papers from one of its journals after the publisher found the articles were accepted with faked peer reviews. The retraction notices call out the authors responsible for submitting the reviews.
This trio of retractions is the second batch of papers withdrawn by Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment over faked reviews in the past eight months. In 2016, the journal began investigating concerns from an anonymous tipster about faked reviewer reports and subsequently retracted three papers in December over “manipulation of the peer-review process” (1, 2, 3).
Jennifer Lovick, the journal’s executive editor, told us the recent issues have prompted the journal to take steps to strengthen the peer review process: Continue reading SAGE journal retracts three more papers after discovering faked reviews
A company that indexes journals — thereby assigning them impact factors — has chosen to delist a cancer journal after it retracted 107 papers earlier this year for faked peer reviews.
Starting July 19, anything published by Tumor Biology will not be indexed in Web of Science, part of Clarivate Analytics (formerly part of Thomson Reuters). Clarivate told us the decision was based on the fake reviews that took down more than 100 papers earlier this year. The problematic papers were released while the journal was published by Springer, not its current publisher, SAGE.
Without being indexed by Web of Science, Tumor Biology will lack an impact factor — which can be the kiss of death for many journals, since researchers (and institutions) often count on such metrics when applying for grants and promotions, so many will not submit work to a journal without one.
Here’s the statement from a Clarivate spokesperson [their emphasis]:
Springer is retracting 107 papers from one journal after discovering they had been accepted with fake peer reviews. Yes, 107.
To submit a fake review, someone (often the author of a paper) either makes up an outside expert to review the paper, or suggests a real researcher — and in both cases, provides a fake email address that comes back to someone who will invariably give the paper a glowing review. In this case, Springer, the publisher of Tumor Biology through 2016, told us that an investigation produced “clear evidence” the reviews were submitted under the names of real researchers with faked emails. Some of the authors may have used a third-party editing service, which may have supplied the reviews. The journal is now published by SAGE.
The retractions follow another sweep by the publisher last year, when Tumor Biology retracted 25 papers for compromised review and other issues, mostly authored by researchers based in Iran. With the latest bunch of retractions, the journal has now retracted the most papers of any other journal indexed by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters. In 2015, its impact factor — 2.9 — ranked it 104th out of 213 oncology journals.
Here’s more from Springer’s official statement, out today: