Caught Our Notice: Gorilla paper in the mist? Journal flags ape hormone paper

Title: Biologically validating the measurement of oxytocin in western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) urine and saliva using a commercial enzyme immunoassay

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:

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Gorilla paper in the mist? Journal flags ape hormone paper

Caught Our Notice: No retraction for “likely fraudulent” study

Title: Homocysteine as a predictive factor for hip fracture in elderly women with Parkinson’s disease

What Caught Our Attention:  In a letter to the editor, researchers led by Mark Bolland recently outlined the many reasons why a study by Yoshihiro Sato and colleagues in The American Journal of Medicine was “unreliable,” including evidence that the patient numbers were not achievable as described, and inconsistencies and errors in the study data. And let’s not forget a 2016 analysis (co-authored by Bolland) which cast doubt on Sato’s body of work, suggesting that more than 30 of his papers could be problematic. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: No retraction for “likely fraudulent” study

Journal investigating earlier work by author of discredited fish-microplastics paper 

A biology journal is investigating concerns about a 2014 paper by a marine biologist who was found guilty of misconduct last year.

In December, Uppsala University concluded that Oona Lönnstedt had fabricated the results” of a controversial 2016 Science paper (now retracted), which examined the harms of human pollution on fish. (Lönnstedt’s supervisor Peter Eklöv was also found guilty of misconduct and had a four-year government grant terminated.) Continue reading Journal investigating earlier work by author of discredited fish-microplastics paper 

When — and how — should journals flag papers that don’t quite meet retraction criteria?

Readers of Retraction Watch will be no strangers to the practice of issuing Expressions of Concern — editorial notices from journals that indicate a paper’s results may not be valid. While a good idea in theory — so readers can be aware of potential issues while an investigation is underway — in practice, it’s a somewhat flawed system. As we (and others before us) have shown, so-called EOCs can linger indefinitely, leaving researchers unsure how to interpret a flagged paper.

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) agrees that the system has room for improvement. Although COPE has included advice on when to issue EOCs within its retraction guidelines, it has allotted time in the next COPE Forum (Feb 26) to discuss the topic. Some questions it’s considering:

Continue reading When — and how — should journals flag papers that don’t quite meet retraction criteria?

Journal retracts note of concern after court settles authorship dispute

A journal has retracted a warning posted to a paper involved in an authorship dispute, after the issue was resolved in a court case.

In an editorial published Jan. 10, editors at the journal Molecules wrote that they were removing the expression of concern for “Helleborus purpurascens—Amino Acid and Peptide Analysis Linked to the Chemical and Antiproliferative Properties of the Extracted Compounds.”

The editors flagged the 2015 paper in June, 2016 after a researcher in Germany also claimed authorship. In the 2016 notice, the editors wrote:

Continue reading Journal retracts note of concern after court settles authorship dispute

JAMA journal calls for formal investigation into surgery group’s work

A JAMA journal has issued an expression of concern for a 2013 paper after discovering “substantial overlap” with a recently retracted paper in another journal.

In April 2017, the editors of JAMA Otolaryngology − Head & Neck Surgery received allegations that the paper included data that had been published in other journals. After investigating, the editors discovered extensive overlap between several sections of the JAMA paper and a now-retracted 2015 paper by the same group. The 2015 paper, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS), was pulled in July 2017, after the editors determined the statistical results were “incorrect” and “the data do not support the conclusions of the article.”

Given the overlap between the two papers, the JAMA editors contacted the University of L’Aquila, where the authors work, to request a formal investigation to evaluate the “integrity of the research.” Jay Piccirillo, the editor of JAMA Otolaryngology − Head & Neck Surgery, told us:

Continue reading JAMA journal calls for formal investigation into surgery group’s work

After losing two video game-violence papers, co-author’s weapons paper is flagged

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

More duplications for researcher accused of misconduct in lawsuit

Despite losing a lawsuit against his former mentor, a researcher hasn’t stopped his efforts to discredit his mentor’s work. These efforts have led to new editorial notices — including, most recently, a correction and expression of concern for one paper by a former colleague, who wasn’t even the subject of the lawsuit.

In the 2014 suit, former Brown University postdoc Andrew Mallon said research misconduct by John Marshall — his lab director and former business partner– tainted a 2013 paper published in PLoS Biology. Though the case failed to trigger the retraction Mallon sought, it put his concerns into the public record; the text of the lawsuit includes an accusation of misconduct against Cong CaoMarshall’s former mentee and the first author of that 2013 paper.

Mallon has since contacted journals to raise concerns about papers by Cao, and two journals have taken action. The most recent move: On Aug. 10, the Biochemical Journal did something we don’t see very often — it issued both a correction and an expression of concern (EoC) for one of Cao’s papers: “EGFR-mediated expression of aquaporin-3 is involved in human skin fibroblast migration,” originally published Nov. 14, 2006. Continue reading More duplications for researcher accused of misconduct in lawsuit

Caught Our Notice: Concerns about image in 2008 paper prompt editorial notice

Via Wikimedia

Title: Characterization of a novel epigenetically-silenced, growth-suppressive gene, ADAMTS9, and its association with lymph node metastases in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

What caught our attention: One year ago, a PubPeer user suggested an image from a 2008 paper looked similar to one from another paper. After the authors stated their belief in the soundness of the image, without providing the originals, the journal issued only an Expression of Concern for the paper. Some journals have issued retractions for lack of original data, some have issued corrections, and even fewer have published editorial notices. Expressions of concern usually indicate that some type of final resolution will be announced, but in reality, a significant proportion remain unresolved for years. Based on the wording of this notice, it may be around for a while. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Concerns about image in 2008 paper prompt editorial notice

Ethical concerns arise for head of controversial stem cell clinic

Geeta Shroff. Photo credit: Nutech Mediworld

Journals are raising ethical concerns about the research of a doctor who offers controversial embryonic stem cell treatments.

Two journals have issued expressions of concern for three papers by Geeta Shroff, who was the subject of a 2012 CNN investigative documentary. All cite ethical concerns; one mentions the potential link between the procedure the authors describe and a risk of forming teratomas, a type of tumor. Shroff has objected to all three notices.

Shroff, a doctor offering controversial embryonic stem cell treatments at her New Delhi clinic, Nutech Mediworld, has said that for years she couldn’t find opportunities to present her research to the medical community. Continue reading Ethical concerns arise for head of controversial stem cell clinic