When Retraction Watch began in 2010, our co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus quickly realized they couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of retractions that appeared each year. And the problem has only gotten worse — although we’ve added staff, the number of retractions issued each year has increased dramatically. According to our growing database, more than 1,300 retractions were issued last year (and that doesn’t include expressions of concern and errata). So to get new notices in front of readers more quickly, we’ve started a new feature called “Caught our Notice,” where we highlight a recent notice that stood out from the others. If you have any information about what happened, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to journal’s editor, Keith Lillemoe, the papers—published in 2015, two months apart—had undergone full peer review and were rejected, “like 90% of submissions to our journal:”
The decision was clear and the authors were notified.
But somehow, Lillemoe said, “our publishing team mistakenly published the papers and placed them into [e-pub] status totally unbeknownst to the editorial team.”
The authors of one paper told us they were unhappy with how the journal handled the situation.
Publishing giant Elsevier has retracted an entire issue of one of its journals because the contents — abstracts from a conference about child neurology — were never supposed to make it online.
We contacted Elsevier, and a spokesperson told us:
In 2012, a study claiming to show — after some intentional statistical tricks — that a dead salmon had brain activity in an fMRI won a prestigious (and hilarious) Ig Nobel Prize.
So five years later, when Bálint Botz tweeted wryly about a study of fish and plants in a radiology journal, we thought, “Aha, someone is trying to create another red herring!”
But alas, it turns out the reason a journal normally concerned with X-rays would suddenly be interested in aquaponics was far more prosaic: Continue reading Quick: What does fish food have to do with X-rays? In this case, an Elsevier production error
Not all retractions result from researchers’ mistakes — we have an entire category of posts known as “publisher errors,” in which publishers mistakenly post a paper, through no fault of the authors. Yet, those retractions can become a black mark on authors’ record. Our co-founder Ivan Oransky and Adam Etkin, Executive Editor at Springer Publishing Co (unrelated to Springer Nature) propose a new system in the latest issue of the International Society of Managing & Technical Editors newsletter, reprinted with permission below.
Imagine you’re a researcher who is one of 10 candidates being considered for tenure, or a promotion, or perhaps a new job which would significantly advance your career. Now imagine that those making this decision eliminate you as a candidate without even an interview because your record shows you’ve had a paper retracted. But in this particular case, what the decision makers may not be aware of is that the paper was not retracted because you made an honest mistake—which, if you came forward about it, really shouldn’t be a black mark anyway—or even because you did something unethical. It was retracted due to publisher error. Like Han Solo and/or Lando Calrissian, you’d find yourself in utter disbelief while saying “It’s not my fault!”— and you’d be right. Continue reading Dopey dupe retractions: How publisher error hurts researchers
On December 31st 2014, a pioneer in the study of inflammatory bowel disease passed away. An obituary published in the Journal of Digestive Diseases shortly thereafter is typical enough: It describes his achievements, importance to his patients, and battle with pancreatic cancer.
But “Loss in the Last Day of 2014: a Eulogy for Prof. Bing Xia” has now been retracted.
This is the first time we’ve seen an obituary pulled from a journal. Unfortunately, this was not a case of a premature obituary (which happens more often than you’d think)– the researcher did actually die, but it appears the journal published the obituary in the wrong place.
The retraction notice, published earlier this year, explains:
That was the emotional sequence for some significant number of researchers around the world on Friday. In the space of several hours, they received word that they were among the scientific 1% — the most cited researchers on the planet — then learned that…well, they actually weren’t.
Here’s the letter — subject line, “Congratulations Highly Cited Researcher!” — and the retraction…erm, apology (click to enlarge): Continue reading Sorry, researchers: That Thomson Reuters “highly cited” designation you received is probably wrong
A Springer spokesperson told us all three papers were pulled as a result of “human error.” In two instances, the notices say the editors-in-chief never meant to accept the papers, since the recommendation was to reject.
We’ll start with the retraction that has the most interesting explanation. Here’s the notice: Continue reading Oops — Springer journals retract three articles published by accident
Sometimes you have the right guy, but charge him with the wrong crime — like nabbing someone for not using a turn signal after he just ran through a red light.
A reproductive sciences journal has admitted to mistakenly retracting the wrong article last year — and is now pulling the previously issued retraction notice, along with retracting a different paper by the same author.
K. P. Suresh, author of both studies (the previously pulled one and the newly retracted one) from the National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease Informatics in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, appealed the journal’s 2015 decision to retract his previous paper. As we reported at the time, Suresh argued that his 2012 paper was “entirely different” from the study it is said to have plagiarized from. It turns out, he may have been right, because now the journal has pulled a different paper of his, published in 2011.
According to one of the notices, the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences previously retracted the incorrect paper due to “technical errors.”
In both cases, the journal cited the reason for retraction as “duplicity of text.”
The journal has now issued another retraction notice for the previously published notice, which reads: Continue reading Oops — journal retracted the wrong article
Here’s a strange one: We discovered a paper about an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria that bore two retraction notices, and each provided a different reason for retraction. One alleged misconduct; that notice still appears now. The other — which has since disappeared — said the paper was submitted by mistake.
“In vitro effect of boric acid and calcium fructoborate esters against methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus strain” was published in the South-Western Journal of Horticulture, Biology and Environment. The full text isn’t available on the journal’s website.
First, here’s the text in the retraction notice that appears when one clicks on the “download full text” link in the table of contents next to the paper: Continue reading A tale of two retraction notices — for the same paper