Medical ethicist: “I now understand that I should not have been re-using material”

Ezio Di Nucci

A researcher in medical ethics has retracted two papers within the last two years after admitting to reusing material from previous publications.

Ezio Di Nucci, based at the University of Copenhagen, claims he “had misunderstood the relevant practices.”

The first retraction, issued in 2017 by the Journal of Value Inquiry, notes the paper “constituted the third verbatim publication of the same text.” The paper “Strategic Bombing, Causal Beliefs, and Double Effect” has only been cited once since it was published in 2016, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

After that retraction, Di Nucci told us he requested the retraction of a second 2016 article, published by Minds and Machines. The retraction notice for “Habits, Priming and the Explanation of Mindless Action” — which has not yet been indexed — states that “the author misunderstood the practice of re-using one’s own material and apologizes for any inconvenience caused.”

Di Nucci told us:

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An author says his work should be “widely heralded and promoted.” So he published it 3 times.

Barislav Momčilović thinks that iodine status is — after iron deficiency — the “main public health” issue in the world today. So when he figured out what he believed was the best way to test levels of the mineral, he was determined to get the message out.

A little too determined, perhaps: He published the same information three times. And one journal caught on.  Last week, Thyroid retracted “Hair Iodine for Human Iodine Status Assessment,” a 2014 paper that they say overlapped with two earlier works.

While publishing duplicate work is considered by some to be just a violation of restrictive publisher copyright agreements, the presence of such duplicates in the literature can bias systematic reviews and other attempts to describe the state of the evidence in a given field. In a retraction notice, Thyroid noted that this was a case of Continue reading An author says his work should be “widely heralded and promoted.” So he published it 3 times.

35,000 papers may need to be retracted for image doctoring, says new paper

Elisabeth Bik

Yes, you read that headline right.

In a new preprint posted to bioRxiv, image sleuths scanned hundreds of papers published over a seven-year period in Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB), published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). The researchers — Arturo Casadevall of Johns Hopkins University, Elisabeth Bik of uBiome, Ferric Fang of the University of Washington (also on the board of directors of our parent non-profit organization), Roger Davis of the University of Massachusetts (and former MCB editor), and Amy Kullas, ASM’s publication ethics manager — found 59 potentially problematic papers, of which five were retracted. Extrapolating from these findings and those of another paper that scanned duplication rates, the researchers propose that tens of thousands of papers might need to be purged from the literature. That 35,000 figure is double the amount of retractions we’ve tallied so far in our database, which goes back to the 1970s. We spoke with the authors about their findings — and how to prevent bad images from getting published in the first place.

Retraction Watch: You found 59 potential instances of inappropriate duplication — how did you define this, and validate that the images were problematic?

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A critic with more than two dozen retractions can’t seem to stop plagiarizing

A mysterious lit and film critic who built a significant portion of his career using the words of other scholars instead of writing his own appears to be attempting a second act.  

Last year, Richard-Lawrence Etienne Barnett, who has lost more than two dozen papers for plagiarism, published a book called “The Adversarial Text,” which appears to have a rather cozy relationship with four of his retracted articles. The apparent purloinment was first reported by Volker Schröder, a scholar of French and Italian at Princeton University who has been following the Barnett case for the better part of two decades.

In 2001, Schroeder found that

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Famous Harvard economist reused parts of 2002 paper multiple times, says journal

Michael Jensen

A former Harvard economist and co-founder of a massive repository of free papers in social sciences has been accused of reusing similar material over multiple papers.

The three papers share the same title. According to an investigation by one of the journals, two papers by Michael Jensen, now an emeritus faculty member at Harvard, are “close-to-identical,” while another includes a “substantial amount of overlapping content.” None of the three papers cite the others.

The journal, Business Ethics Quarterly, has added an editorial notice to a 2002 paper by Jensen, noting its similarity to a 2001 paper and another 2001 paper. The notice states an earlier version of the paper was published by Harvard Business School Press. The editor surmises that all three journals were “more or less simultaneously vetting versions of the Jensen article.”

Jensen is the co-founder of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a repository of more than 800,000 papers that has been named the “Number 1 Open Access Repository in the World.” SSRN was purchased by Elsevier in 2016.

We spoke with Jensen briefly by phone; he denied submitting the same paper to three journals simultaneously:

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Dental journal pulls a dozen papers for recycled images and “unreliable data”

A leading orthodontics journal has retracted 12 papers after determining that they contained either reused images, questionable data or both. Several of the articles involved experiments conducted in dogs — and one person familiar with the case told us that the duplication was an attempt to avoid sacrificing more animals than necessary for the research.  

Although the list of authors on the articles varies, the common denominator is Jose Luis Calvo-Guirado, of the UCAM Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, in Spain. Calvo-Guirado’s title at the institution is director de la Cátedra Internacional de Investigación en Odontología, which Google translates as director of the International Research Chair in Dentistry.  Calvo-Guirado also holds (or has held) a research professorship at SUNY Stony Brook in the Department of Prosthodontics and Digital Medicine, according to his CV.

Calvo-Guirado’s name is on at least 187 entries in PubMed. Of those, 40 appeared in Clinical Oral Implants Research, a Wiley title on whose editorial board the researcher served, according to his CV.  

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Hey journals, it is possible to quickly correct the record

Even when a paper is obviously flawed, it can take years for journals to take action. Some never do. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

On April 27, a reader emailed the editors of two journals, noting that each had recently published a paper by the same group of authors that appeared strikingly similar.

Four days later, on May 1, a representative at Medicine, the journal that published the most recent version of the paper, wrote the reader back, saying the paper was going to be retracted.

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A distorted record on blood pressure drugs: Why one group is trying to clean up the literature

In 2015, a group of researchers based in Spain decided to write a review article on high blood pressure. But when they looked over eight articles co-authored by the same person, they noticed some undeniable similarities.

Over the last few years, Giuseppe Derosa, based at the University of Pavia in Italy, has racked up 10 retractions after journals determined he’d published the same material multiple times. But there’s much more to this story: The researchers in Spain (led by Luis Carlos Saiz of the Navarre Regional Health Service in Pamplona) kept digging into his publication record, and have since identified dozens of additional potential duplicates. Although the outside researchers alerted journals to the additional potentially problematic papers in 2015, most have not taken action; recently, two journals published by Taylor & Francis flagged 12 of Derosa’s articles, three of which they had been alerted about in 2015 by Saiz and colleagues.

Now, Saiz is telling his story — and why duplication of medical research matters:

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Journal says it will correct three papers by prominent psychologist for duplication

Some heavy criticism of a high-profile scientist has prompted one journal to announce it plans to correct the record.

Following a series of allegations about the work of psychologist Robert Sternberg at Cornell, a journal has declared it plans to correct three of his papers. Last month, Inside Higher Ed reported that critics have raised concerns about Sternberg’s practice of citing his own work, prompting him to resign from his position as editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science. On the heels of that, graduate student Brendan O’Connor took to Twitter to accuse Sternberg of recycling his own text in his papers — and last Friday, the Journal of Creative Behavior told O’Connor it was correcting three of Sternberg’s papers.

In an email to O’Connor — who we interviewed this month about his concerns regarding Sternberg’s work — the journal says it will publish three “Text Recycling Corrections & Notifications” to three articles O’Connor flagged, which will:

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Controversial Australian science journalist admits to duplication in her PhD thesis

Maryanne Demasi

A prominent (yet controversial) journalist in Australia has admitted to duplicating three images that were part of her PhD thesis — a practice outside experts agreed was acceptable, if not ideal, at the time, according to a report released today.

As part of an inquiry, the University of Adelaide convened an expert panel to investigate 17 allegations of duplication and/or manipulation in Maryanne Demasi’s 2004 thesis. Duplication is a common reason for retractions, such as when researchers use the same image to depict the results of different experiments.

After earning her PhD in rheumatology, Demasi became a journalist who got headlines for more than just her reporting. In 2013, she produced a controversial series about cholesterol and fat (which suggested they have been unfairly villainized, and which cast doubt on cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins). A few years later, Demasi was fired from the science program Catalyst, after it aired an episode alleging wi-fi could cause brain tumors.

Regarding the allegations of misconduct in Demasi’s thesis, the originals of the images in question were long gone, so in 14 instances, an expert concluded it was not possible to conclude whether or not duplication had occurred. But in the remaining three instances, Demasi admitted she had “duplicated or probably duplicated” the images:

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