Data in biofuel paper “had either been grossly misinterpreted or fabricated”

A biology journal has retracted a 2011 paper after the University of California, Los Angeles determined that the data in three figures “cannot be supported.”

In February, the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology retracted the paper, which explores efforts to engineer bacteria to convert plant biomass into biofuel.

Claudia Modlin, assistant director of UCLA’s Office of Research Policy and Compliance, told Retraction Watch that the university informed the journal about the issues last October, after reviewing the work. Continue reading Data in biofuel paper “had either been grossly misinterpreted or fabricated”

Caught Our Notice: When authors go MIA, the article may follow

Via Wikimedia

Title: IRF9 inhibits human acute myeloid leukemia through the SIRT1-p53 signaling pathway

What Caught Our Attention: When authors fail to respond to editors’ requests for information, it isn’t hard to imagine that the submitted manuscript will lose its publishing appeal. In this case, the journal and publisher withdrew the article after “repeated attempts” to contact the authors were unsuccessful.

The notice doesn’t say why the journal needed to get in touch with the authors; of course, some authors may cease correspondence for a variety of reasons, but there is usually some backstory. Since the authors disappeared, the withdrawn article has, as well. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: When authors go MIA, the article may follow

Stem cell scientist appealing dismissal loses another paper

Susana Gonzalez

A once-prominent stem cell biologist, who recently lost both her job and a sizable grant, has lost her fifth paper.

Recently, Molecular and Cellular Biology retracted a 2003 paper by Susana Gonzalez. Last February, the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Spain dismissed her from her position over allegations of misconduct. The reason: suspicions of data manipulation.

As with a previous retraction, the journal said Gonzalez “could not be reached for approval of this retraction.”  

Here’s the full notice:

Continue reading Stem cell scientist appealing dismissal loses another paper

Author retracts nanotechnology paper over doubts about key results

The corresponding author of a 2015 nanotechnology paper has penned a lengthy — and revealing — retraction notice, explaining why he is not certain about the findings.

In the notice, Chang Ming Li from the Institute for Clean Energy & Advanced Materials (ICEAM) at Southwest University in China, states that there is “insufficient evidence to conclusively” identify the composition of the nanowire array described in the article, which “severely undermines the validity of the reported conclusions.”

The 2015 paper has been considered “highly cited” by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters, meaning it has received a disproportionate amount of cites given its field and publication year.

Li also said that the paper — which appeared in Physical Chemistry, Chemical Physics — was “submitted and published without my knowledge or permission.” He has not responded to our request to explain how that could have happened, given that he was the corresponding author. Continue reading Author retracts nanotechnology paper over doubts about key results

Group whose findings support video game-violence link loses another paper

Last July, Joseph Hilgard, a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, saw an article in Gifted Child Quarterly that made him do a double take. Hilgard, who is studying the effects of violent media on aggressive behavior, said the results of the 2016 paper “caused me some alarm.”

The research—led by corresponding author Brad J. Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University (OSU)—showed that gifted and non-gifted children’s verbal skills dropped substantially after watching 12 minutes of a violent cartoon. The violent program had a greater impact on the gifted children, temporarily eliminating the pre-video verbal edge they displayed over their non-gifted peers.

To Hilgard, the results suggested that violent media can actually impair learning and performance. But the effect size was huge — so big, Hilgard thought it had to be a mistake. This, plus other questions, prompted Hilgard to contact the authors and the journal. Unfortunately, once he got a look at the data — collected by a co-author in Turkey who became unreachable after the recent coup attempt — the questions didn’t go away. So the journal decided to retract the paper.

Bushman’s body of work has continually supported the idea that violent media increases aggressive behavior, including a controversial 2012 study “Boom, Headshot!” that was retracted earlier this year.

What first struck Hilgard as odd about the 2016 paper was how large the effect of the violent cartoon was: Continue reading Group whose findings support video game-violence link loses another paper

Journal retracts gastric cancer study with multiple duplications, authors MIA

An oncology journal has decided to retract a 2012 paper on gastric cancer after discovering duplicated data in multiple figures.

According to the retraction notice, the journal’s editorial board received a tip from a reader regarding the potential figure issues. Oncology Reports launched an investigation, which confirmed the allegations. The authors failed to respond to the journal’s multiple requests for more information.

Here’s the retraction notice: Continue reading Journal retracts gastric cancer study with multiple duplications, authors MIA

Journal pulls cancer paper that used others’ data; authors MIA

A journal has retracted a paper after a reader pointed out some of the data looked familiar — and the authors never responded to the allegations.

According to the retraction notice in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, the reader showed the journal that the histological data in two of the figures were from another published paper by different researchers. But when the journal contacted the authors on several occasions, they didn’t hear back. 

Here’s the retraction notice: Continue reading Journal pulls cancer paper that used others’ data; authors MIA

Second retraction for bone researcher with lifetime funding ban

via WCH
via WCH

A researcher banned from funding by a Canadian agency for misconduct has earned her second retraction, after a reanalysis uncovered problems with the paper’s conclusions.

The retraction follows an investigation by Sophie Jamal‘s former workplace, the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, which has led to a recent retraction of a JAMA paper due to data manipulation, and a lifetime funding ban from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The latest retraction stemmed from a re-analysis of the paper by the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study Group, of which the paper was a part; all authors but Jamal have requested the retraction. In the notice, the authors say that they believe no patients were harmed as a result of the “possibly invalid conclusions” in the paper, which showed patients with kidney problems were at higher risk of bone loss. A researcher told us a third paper by Jamal is also due to be retracted soon.

Here’s the retraction notice, issued by the American Journal of Kidney Diseases (AJKD): Continue reading Second retraction for bone researcher with lifetime funding ban

Patients did not okay publishing brain surgery details

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 2.37.02 PM

BioMed Central has retracted a paper after realizing it shared details on the brain surgeries of four patients without their consent.

Darlene Lobel, a neurosurgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, agreed to the retraction, and told us she didn’t know that she needed consent from the patients since all identifying details had been removed. The paper describes a technique for craniotomy — opening up the skull to access the brain — and included CT scans of hemorrhaging and swelling that the patients experienced, as well as other details such as their gender and age.

Here’s the retraction notice:

Continue reading Patients did not okay publishing brain surgery details

Poll: If authors don’t address mistakes, is that misconduct?

cover_natureIn an interesting letter printed in today’s Nature, biologists Sophien Kamoun and Cyril Zipfel suggest that “failure by authors to correct their mistakes should be classified as scientific misconduct.”

They note that this policy is already in place at their institute, The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL).

We contacted Kamoun to ask what constituted a mistake, given that numerous papers have received queries, such as on sites like PubPeer, but it’s not clear whether those are legitimate mistakes. He told us: Continue reading Poll: If authors don’t address mistakes, is that misconduct?