What Caught Our Attention: We won’t lie — any retractions of papers about fish semen (OK, any kind of semen) will make us stop and look. In this case, the journal retracted three papers submitted by the same researcher over concerns of fake review. In the end, the journal was concerned the papers were okayed by reviewers who weren’t “suitably qualified” to review the papers about the content and quality of semen from different fish species. (In fairness, we imagine the pool of qualified reviewers is relatively small.)
What Caught Our Attention: Quite frankly, anything with “gorilla gorilla gorilla” in the title will catch our eye, even if it is just the scientific name of the western lowland gorilla. In this case, the journal issued an expression of concern over an “unintended discrepancy” that may have affected the paper, which validates the use of a tool to measure oxytocin in the apes’ urine and saliva. The authors voluntarily notified the editors of Primate of the potential issue, and the journal issued an Expression of Concern only one month after the article was published — which is pretty fast for a notice, although not a record (see this one, issued six days after publication).
We contacted the editor, who told us:
What Caught Our Attention: Usually, when journals publish corrections to articles, they also correct the original article, except when the original is unavailable online. When Nature noticed that some figure panels in a 20-year-old paper were duplicated, it flagged the issue for readers — but didn’t correct the online version of the original paper. According to the notice, the duplications don’t disturb the conclusion illustrated by the figure, the original data couldn’t be found, and the last two authors had retired. We contacted a spokesperson at Nature, who told us “the information at the start of the paper clearly links to the corrigendum.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Yes, a 20-year-old article is wrong — but it won’t be corrected online
An engineer in South Korea has lost 30 papers, at least seven of which for duplication and plagiarism. He has also been fired from his university position.
Soon-Gi Shin, whose affiliation was listed as Kangwon National University in Gangwon, is the sole author on the majority of the papers, published in four journals between 2000 and 2015.
Taewan Kim, the dean of international affairs at the university, told Retraction Watch that Shin was fired on August 21, 2017, over “violation[s] of research ethics.”
Nearly all of the editorial board members of a 150-year-old journal about the molecular underpinnings of medicine and disease have resigned their posts, protesting changes by publisher SpringerNature that they say “jeopardized the future and scholarly legacy of the Journal.”
In a December 1 letter, led by the three former editors in chief of the Journal of Molecular Medicine — Detlev Ganten, Gregg Semenza and Thomas Sommer — more than 70 then-editorial board members raised two objections: closing a small editorial office and laying off staff, and unilaterally appointing a new editor.
Regarding the decision to close the office at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin Buch, where it has been since 1995, the editors and board members wrote: Continue reading Most board members of journal resign to protest new editor, layoffs
According to the retraction notice, published in December in Acta Neuropathologica Communications, mice engineered to have a specific genetic mutation were mislabeled as the normal or wild type group.
The notice cites an investigation by the University of Florida; we asked the university for a copy of the report. The university sent us a redacted document, which a spokesperson told us was a self-report from the researchers regarding the mislabeling. The spokesperson explained: Continue reading “A painful lesson:” Authors retract paper after discovering mislabeled mouse lines
What Caught Our Attention: Thousands of papers have relied on contaminated or wrong cell lines, a problem journals have not been particularly proactive in addressing. So far, only a few studies have been retracted for using misidentified cell lines. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Journals still (slowly) purging archives of bad cell line studies
According to the retraction notice, published in the July 2017 issue of Manuscripta Mathematica, the author Ilya Karzhemanov “has not admitted to the alleged errors and disagrees with the retraction.”
It’s unclear when exactly the paper was retracted, but Karzhemanov, now associate professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, posted the now-retracted paper on arXiv in June 2017 and explained his “strong disagreement” with the retraction: Continue reading Mathematician protests retraction, alleging “manhunt”
What Caught Our Attention: When authors decide they want to make their articles freely available after they’ve already been published, how should publishers indicate the change, if at all? Recently, Ross Mounce (@rmounce) thought it was odd a Springer journal issued a formal correction notice when the authors wanted to make their paper freely available, and we can’t say we disagree. As he posted on Twitter:
A spokesperson at Springer explained that the retractions are “due to a human error.”
According to one of the retraction notices, published in Archive for Mathematical Logic, the paper had not yet undergone peer review and the author plans to resubmit his paper to the journal. The other retraction notice, published in Arabian Journal of Geosciences, simply states that an “error in the submission system” is to blame. Unfortunately, in both cases the authors now have a retraction on their record, seemingly through no fault of their own.
Neither notice indicates what publisher glitches led to the premature publications. We asked the spokesperson for clarity, but she did not elaborate. When asked whether Springer has made changes to prevent these errors from happening again, the spokesperson said: