Two years after student loses PhD, ORI concludes he committed misconduct

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) announced today that a former graduate student committed research misconduct — nearly two years after his institution stripped him of his degree.

The ORI concluded that Shiladitya Sen committed misconduct in a PNAS paper (retracted six months ago), his PhD thesis, a poster presentation, and two grant applications to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Sen has agreed not to seek federal funding for three years.

A spokesperson for The Ohio State University (OSU), where Sen was based, told us its investigation wrapped up in Spring 2016, and Sen’s PhD was revoked that June. It’s not clear why it took two years for the ORI to issue its own finding; the ORI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to ORI’s notice, Sen:

Continue reading Two years after student loses PhD, ORI concludes he committed misconduct

Caught Our Notice: Hey peer reviewers — did you even read this paper??

What Caught Our Attention: A tree of life paper has been axed — and based on the information in the retraction notice, we’re wondering how it ever passed peer review.

Specifically, the notice states a review of the paper found “concerns regarding the study design, methodology, and interpretation of the data.” Overall, the research “contradict(s) a large body of existing literature and do(es) not provide a sufficient level of evidence to support the claims made in the paper.” Um, so what did it get right?

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Hey peer reviewers — did you even read this paper??

Authors retract heart disease paper for “nonscientific reason”

Researchers have retracted a 2018 paper about the genetic underpinnings of heart disease from the FASEB Journal — and it’s not entirely clear why.

The paywalled retraction notice simply cites a “nonscientific reason.” Cody Mooneyhan, the director of publications at the journal, declined to provide further details, and the authors have provided different accounts of what happened: The paper’s corresponding author, John Yu, told Retraction Watch that he requested the retraction because the first author, Chia‐Ti Tsai, refused to sign the journal’s copyright agreement. Tsai, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at National Taiwan University in Taipei, told us he was “not notified before the paper was submitted.” Continue reading Authors retract heart disease paper for “nonscientific reason”

Caught Our Notice: 54 problems in three scientific images equals one expression of concern

Title: Effects of microRNA-223 on morphine analgesic tolerance by targeting NLRP3 in a rat model of neuropathic pain

What Caught Our Attention: Usually, an Expression of Concern (EOC) offers general language about “concerns regarding the validity of the data” or “concerns regarding the integrity of the study.” Here the language is anything but, saying that 54 Western blot bands within three figures have problems such as “visible pasted joints,” “square border,” and numerous “appear to be the same band.”  According to the notice, the authors have not responded to requests for the original blots, so the editors are allowing the article to remain intact, choosing instead “to alert readers to these issues and allow them to arrive at their own conclusions regarding the figures.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: 54 problems in three scientific images equals one expression of concern

Author: “The retractions were about bureaucracy, not science”

A researcher has retracted two 2014 papers, after discovering they had not gone through the proper approval process before being submitted.

The papers were part of a collaboration funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which focused on solving protein structures. Adam Godzik, the senior author, told Retraction Watch that all papers had to be approved by a special committee before being submitted to a journal. Given the scale of the collaboration, the committee for the Joint Center for Structural Genomics (JCSG) would assess whether researchers who had made a previous contribution to the work should be added as authors.

Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics retracted both papers after Godzik informed the editor in August 2014 that neither article had undergone the required review before being submitted to the journal. Although Wiley agreed to the retractions in an email to Godzik in September 2014,  the papers were only pulled in January—more than three years later. Continue reading Author: “The retractions were about bureaucracy, not science”

“Clear signs of manipulation” in paper co-authored by prominent geneticist

David Latchman

A third paper co-authored by researchers based at a prominent lab whose work has been under investigation on and off for almost three years has been retracted.

According to the notice, the university’s investigation found that a 2008 paper in FEBS Letters contained “clear signs of manipulation” in three figures.

Research from geneticist David Latchman’s group has been dogged by misconduct allegations since late 2013 and subject to two investigations by the University College London (UCL). Continue reading “Clear signs of manipulation” in paper co-authored by prominent geneticist

Florida investigation can’t ID culprit who falsified data in retracted PNAS paper

When the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences retracted a gene therapy paper in December, it declared that some of the data had been falsified and mentioned a research misconduct investigation. But the notice said nothing about who was responsible.

Via a public records request, Retraction Watch has obtained investigation documents from the University of Florida, which show the focus had been narrowed down to two of the paper’s three co-first authors. But the investigation committee didn’t assign blame to either one. According to their final report, dated Oct. 24, 2016:

there was not enough direct evidence to either implicate or exonerate either of these individuals.

Over the course of the formal investigation, which lasted from early August to late October 2016,  the committee was able to determine that data in the PNAS paper had been falsified. However, it said: Continue reading Florida investigation can’t ID culprit who falsified data in retracted PNAS paper

Journal retracts paper after discovering lead author forged co-author’s signature

A pharmacy journal has retracted a 2017 cancer paper after determining that the lead author forged her co-author’s signature.

Alain Li Wan Po, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, told Retraction Watch that, after discovering the forgery, the journal lost confidence in “the integrity of the whole report,” and decided to retract it:

Our judgment was that if an author is willing to forge a signature, we cannot be sure of the integrity of the whole report and decided on the retraction.

According to Po, the paper’s lead author, Yan Wang, objected to the retraction because “she maintained that the data were accurate.” So the editors retracted the paper without her approval — but with the agreement of the author Jatinder Lamba, whose name was forged.

How did the journal discover the forged signature?

Continue reading Journal retracts paper after discovering lead author forged co-author’s signature

“A painful lesson:” Authors retract paper after discovering mislabeled mouse lines

Neuroscientists have retracted a 2016 paper examining the genetic underpinnings of a degenerative motor neuron disease, after discovering that two mouse lines had been accidentally mislabeled.

According to the retraction notice, published in December in Acta Neuropathologica Communications, mice engineered to have a specific genetic mutation were mislabeled as the normal or wild type group.

The notice cites an investigation by the University of Florida; we asked the university for a copy of the report. The university sent us a redacted document, which a spokesperson told us was a self-report from the researchers regarding the mislabeling. The spokesperson explained: Continue reading “A painful lesson:” Authors retract paper after discovering mislabeled mouse lines

Caught Our Notice: Doesn’t anyone do a literature review any more?

Via Wikimedia

Titles: (1) Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696)

(2) Structure revision of aspergicin by the crystal structure of aspergicine, a co-occurring isomer produced by co-culture of two mangrove epiphytic fungi

What Caught Our Attention: Two articles by different groups of authors recently suffered from the same (fatal) flaw: A poor literature review. The article, “Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696),” claimed to have sequenced a strain already sequenced in 2004 and published in a well-cited article.  According to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, the 2004 article was cited 474 times before the now-retracted article was published. And that 2004 article appeared in a highly-cited journal, Nature Biotechnology. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Doesn’t anyone do a literature review any more?