Researcher accused of fraud, embezzlement acquitted by Italian court

University of PerugiaAn Italian court has acquitted a gastroenterologist who was accused of fraud and embezzlement.  

An earlier institutional investigation into Stefano Fiorucci, based at the University of Perugia in Italy, found that he had manipulated images in publications that he allegedly used to win two million Euros of funding. The story, which has dragged on for years, has resulted in four retractions and nine expressions of concern for publications authored by Fiorucci. 

Fiorucci’s lawyer, Stefano Bagianti, told us: Continue reading Researcher accused of fraud, embezzlement acquitted by Italian court

Researcher who sued to stop retractions gets his sixth

Mario Saad
Mario Saad

A sixth retraction has appeared for a diabetes researcher who previously sued a publisher to try to stop his papers from being retracted.

Mario Saad‘s latest retraction, in PLOS Biology, stems from inadvertent duplications, according to the authors.  Though an investigation at Saad’s institution — the University of Campinas in Brazil — found no evidence of misconduct, a critic of the paper told The Scientist he does not believe that the issues with blots were inadvertent.

Previously, Saad sued the American Diabetes Association to remove four expressions of concern from his papers; they were later retracted, even though Unicamp recommended keeping three of them published.

Here’s the new retraction notice, for “Gut Microbiota Is a Key Modulator of Insulin Resistance in TLR 2 Knockout Mice:” Continue reading Researcher who sued to stop retractions gets his sixth

Nature fixes highly cited paper suggesting food additives hurt the gut

Nature_latest coverA 2015 study about dietary emulsifiers has been corrected by Nature after another researcher pointed out a few ambiguities.

When it first appeared, the study — which showed emulsifiers cause inflammation in the guts of mice — received a fair amount of media attention, including from Nature’s own news department. But since publication, a researcher noted some imprecision around the ages of mice used in the sample, affecting the paper’s calculations of weight gain over time. Andrew Gewirtz, co-author of the study from Georgia State University, told us the change did not affect the conclusions of the paper.

Here’s the corrigendum for “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome”: Continue reading Nature fixes highly cited paper suggesting food additives hurt the gut

Data manipulation flushes paper on gut bacteria

cell reportsData manipulation in a Cell Reports paper blew the importance of a kind of bacteria out of proportion.

Retracted this month — less than three months after it was published — the paper showed, according to a summary on the cover page:

B. subtilis is a symbiont that resides in the gut of C. elegans and generates nitric oxide that is essential for the host. Xiao et al. demonstrate that nitric oxide promotes defense against pathogenic bacteria by activating p38 MAPK, demonstrating the importance of commensal bacteria in host immunity.

But B. subtilis — a member of the Bacillaceae family — aren’t actually as plentiful as they appeared, explains the retraction notice for “Gut-Colonizing Bacteria Promote C. elegans Innate Immunity by Producing Nitric Oxide:”

Continue reading Data manipulation flushes paper on gut bacteria

Poop paper flushed due to possible sample contamination

cover (3)The authors of a paper on a new probiotic strain of bacteria found in pig feces have retracted it from Animal Science Journal after discovering some of the bacteria might have been contaminated.

Readers likely know by now how easy it is for this to happen, as we frequently report on retractions due to similar reasons. Like other instances of mistaken cell identity, the authors of this 2013 paper realized the mistake following further tests of the bacteria used in the experiment.

The retraction for “Isolation, characterization, and effect of administration in vivo, a novel probiotic strain from pig feces

Continue reading Poop paper flushed due to possible sample contamination

Son sees dead father in case report, requests retraction

ijscrAuthors have retracted a case report describing a surgery to remove gallstones in a patient with Crohn’s disease after learning they’d mixed up two cases, and instead reported on a patient who had died 21 days after the procedure.

We were alerted to this story by La Repubblica, and contacted by the son of the patient (who asked not to be named, for privacy reasons). He told us he found the study and asked the journal to retract it:

…I can say that it was absolutely devastating to realise that the pictures I was looking at were from the surgery that led to the death of my father. It is something that gives me a lot of sorrow thinking that the man in that picture with the open belly was him, when he was fighting for his life. I asked the rest of my family not to see them to avoid them the same shock.

Even before the retraction appeared, we received confirmation it was coming from Giuseppe Paolisso, the Principal of the School of Medicine at the Second University of Naples, where the authors are based: Continue reading Son sees dead father in case report, requests retraction

Biologist’s research under investigation in Sweden after being questioned on PubPeer

Holgersson
Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson

The University of Gothenburg in Sweden is investigating several papers co-authored by biologist Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson after they were challenged on PubPeer.

Sumitran-Holgersson already has one retraction under her belt — of a 2005 Blood paper, after another investigation concluded the results “cannot be considered reliable.” Sumitran-Holgersson and her husband, co-author Jan Holgersson, did not sign the retraction notice. Both were based at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) at the time, but have since moved to the University of Gothenburg.

Now, the University of Gothenburg has launched its own investigation of the papers questioned on PubPeer, according to Continue reading Biologist’s research under investigation in Sweden after being questioned on PubPeer

Editors weren’t “unable to verify reviewer identities” — reviewers just weren’t qualified

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We can’t resist flagging some misleading language in a retraction note for a 2015 paper on the inner workings of an amoeba pathogen.

The note for “The Charms of the CHRM Receptors: Apoptotic and Amoebicidal effects of Dicyclomine on Acanthamoeba castellanii” is short, so we’re going to give it to you up front:

This accepted manuscript has been retracted because the journal is unable to verify reviewer identities.

Sounds like another case of faked emails to generate fake peer reviews, right? But that’s not what happened to this paper, according to the editor in chief of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Louis B. Rice, a professor at Brown University:

Continue reading Editors weren’t “unable to verify reviewer identities” — reviewers just weren’t qualified

Fake peer review fells two more papers

medicineThe number of papers retracted for fake peer reviews — well in excess of 100, by our count — continues to grow.

The latest to join the list are “Rebamipide plus proton pump inhibitor versus proton pump inhibitor alone in treatment of endoscopic submucosal dissection-induced gastric ulcer: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” and “Association study of TGFBR2 and miR-518 gene polymorphisms with age at natural menopause, premature ovarian failure and early menopause among Chinese Han women,” both published in 2014 in Medicine.

Here’s how both notices, signed by senior publisher Duncan A. MacRae, read: Continue reading Fake peer review fells two more papers

Mix-and-match text topples microbiome paper

iemA group of gastroenterology researchers in Italy has lost their 2010 paper in Internal and Emergency Medicine, the journal of the Italian Society of Internal Medicine, for plagiarizing and duplicate publication.

The article, “Gut microbiota and related diseases: clinical features,” was published as a supplement by a team from the University of Bologna. Its conclusions: Continue reading Mix-and-match text topples microbiome paper