For the second time, researchers retract — then republish — a vaccine paper

Photo credit: Blake Patterson

Two researchers with a troubled publication history about vaccine safety have withdrawn their third paper.

Along with several other co-authors, Christopher Shaw, of the University of British Columbia, and Lucija Tomljenovic, of the Neural Dynamics Research Group, recently withdrew a 2017 paper about a controversy over a tetanus vaccination program in Kenya.  

The paper has been republished in the same journal, adding another chapter to Shaw and Tomljenovic’s confusing record of publishing and withdrawing papers. The journal did not respond to our request for comment, but Shaw told Retraction Watch:

Continue reading For the second time, researchers retract — then republish — a vaccine paper

“Credible threats of personal violence” against editor prompt withdrawal of colonialism paper

A journal has withdrawn an essay that called for a return to colonialism after the editor received alleged threats tied to the article.

Soon after Third World Quarterly published the controversial essay, readers began to object. When the journal defended its decision, 15 editorial board members resigned in response. More than 10,000 people signed a petition to have it retracted. On September 26, the publisher posted a statement — including a detailed timeline of the paper’s peer review process — and said the the author had requested to withdraw the article. However, in the statement, the publisher said that “peer-reviewed research articles cannot simply be withdrawn but must have grounds for retraction.”

The journal has since changed its position, and withdrawn the paper entirely from its site, posting this notice in its place:

Continue reading “Credible threats of personal violence” against editor prompt withdrawal of colonialism paper

No new math: Journal pulls math paper with “already known” results

A mathematics journal has withdrawn a paper after discovering that the results were not new.

The paper, published online in March in Communications in Algebra, explored the properties of group rings, a discipline of algebra. According to editor-in-chief of the journal, Jason Bell, author Francis E. A. Johnson, a professor of mathematics at the University College London, devised a property associated with group rings, and defined it using the term “weakly finite.” But, at the time, Johnson was not aware that other experts had already defined the same property, using the term “stably finite.”

Bell, a professor of mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and Lance Small, the journal’s other editor-in-chief, stressed that this issue was “definitely not a matter of plagiarism.” Bell and Small told us in a joint statement that “it was ultimately no one’s fault—it is just one of these things that can happen occasionally in mathematics research.” But given the overlap, the editors thought it best to withdraw the paper, they said: Continue reading No new math: Journal pulls math paper with “already known” results

Physics journal retracts paper without alerting author

annals-of-physics

An Elsevier journal has angered an author by removing his study without telling him.

After spending months asking the journal why it removed the paper — about a heavily debated theorem in physics — and getting no response, the author threatened to seek damages from the journal and publisher for “permanently stigmatizing” his work. Yesterday, an Elsevier representative told the author what happened: Experts told the journal the paper had a major mistake, so the journal decided to withdraw the study, but failed to tell the author due to an “internal error.”

That explanation didn’t satisfy study author Joy Christian, scientific director of the Einstein Centre for Local-Realistic Physics in Oxford, UK, who has demanded the journal either republish the article or remove it and return the copyright to him, or he will pursue legal action.

Here’s the cryptic publisher’s note for “Local causality in a Friedmann–Robertson–Walker spacetime:” Continue reading Physics journal retracts paper without alerting author

Penalties for early withdrawal: irked CONSORT Group authors

Premature withdrawal can lead to frustration and hurt feelings — especially when it comes to publications (please, this is a family-friendly site).

Two cases in point: We recently learned that the International Journal of Surgery, an Elsevier title, had withdrawn two papers from the CONSORT group — an acronym for Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials — an international team of scientists who have been working on ways to improve the reporting of studies.

In 2008, they published a paper titled “Methods and processes of the CONSORT Group: example of an extension for trials assessing nonpharmacologic treatments” in the Annals of Internal Medicine. They followed up in March 2010 with the publication of “CONSORT 2010 Statement: Updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomized trials.”

As they wrote in the statement: Continue reading Penalties for early withdrawal: irked CONSORT Group authors

Academic purgatory: Papers withdrawn before they’re “officially” published

If a paper appears online but then is withdrawn — a kinder, gentler version of retracted — before it is “officially” published, did anyone hear it fall?

Oops, mixed metaphors again. And scare quotes! The latter, however, are because publishers seem to have varying opinions of whether or not something that is freely available online is published. And that has ramifications for whether you can retract a paper like that.

Let us explain with two examples: Continue reading Academic purgatory: Papers withdrawn before they’re “officially” published