Adeel Safdar was once a rising star in the field of kinesiology. After completing his doctorate degree at McMaster University in Canada, working with one of the titans of his field, Safdar took a postdoc at Harvard, then accepted a newly created chair position at another university in Ontario.
That all came crashing down last year, when Safdar went on trial in Canada, accused of horrifically abusing his wife. Over the course of the trial, allegations arose about his research, prompting two journals to flag papers he co-authored with his former mentor, Mark Tarnopolsky.
In one of the largest such requests we’ve ever heard of, the World Health Organization has asked 46 journals to correct articles that refer to a bone fracture risk diagnostic tool as developed or endorsed by the WHO.
By WHO’s count, the tool — known as Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX), which has come under scrutiny as experts have questioned its effectiveness — has been linked to the WHO in over 500 scientific articles. The organization wants to change that. The health agency says it has no ties to the tool and claims its developers have spread “misinformation” asserting a link to the WHO. But the tool’s lead developer disputes this, claiming the agency collaborated on the tool from its inception.
According to the retraction notices, Sato asked the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry to retract three of his papers “due to scientific misconduct.” In the letter, Sato—who is corresponding author on all three papers—explained he included co-authors without their consent and that none of the other authors listed worked on the study or article.
In May, the editors issued expressions of concern while they investigated (1,2,3), and last month, the journal retracted the three articles.
Last week, JAMA issued some unusual notices, letting readers know they should use caution when reading an editorial and letters associated with now-retracted articles by a bone researcher in Japan.
The notices — for papers by Yoshihiro Sato, now up to 14 retractions — remind readers not to heed the results of the now-retracted papers, and alert them to read any associated materials (specifically, an editorial in JAMA and letters in JAMA Internal Medicine) with caution.
The text of the notices describes them as “formal correction notices;” we asked Annette Flanagin, executive managing editor at The JAMA Network, why they chose that approach, instead of an expression of concern or retraction:
A journal has retracted two 2014 papers after the editors discovered the authors used data from other research groups without permission.
The papers, both published in the same issue of Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics and retracted in May, suffered from similar issues—the authors published data that was not theirs. The authors are all based at different institutions in China; as far as we can tell, the papers do not have any authors in common.
The troubles continue for a bone researcher, who’s lost multiple papers in recent months due to problems ranging from data issues to including authors without their consent.
Now, journals have retracted two more papers by Yoshihiro Sato. And in a sign of the downstream effects that fraud can have, another journal has retracted two meta-analyses by other authors that cited his work.
Earlier this month, the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion retracted the two meta-analyses because they were based on recently retracted papers by Sato, affiliated with Mitate Hospital. The two new retractions of Sato’s papers are a review and a randomized controlled trial.
Sato was not an author on the meta-analyses published in 2008 and 2011; he was, however, first and lead author on all the retracted papers referenced in the notices. The notices state that the trio of authors on the meta-analyses:
A researcher who received a lifetime funding ban for misconduct from a Canadian agency has logged her third retraction, after a re-analysis of her work unveiled “serious inconsistencies.”
In July, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) released a report about Sophie Jamal, following an investigation by her former employer, The Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada. The probe concluded that Jamal had manipulated data, which resulted in her being banned from CIHR funding for life, and the retraction of a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
After that retraction, researchers that made up the the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study Group (CaMos) decided to take a second look at Jamal’s work. In August, we reported on a retraction that came out of that examination, in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases (AJKD). At the time, a senior researcher from the group told us the group had also requested another journal retract a CaMos paper.
A publisher in the Netherlands has retracted 13 published studies and withdrawn 52 that were under consideration (but not yet published) after learning that someone illegally accessed its workflows to add fake authors and manipulate text.
According to Seyyed Mohammad Miri, the founder, CEO, and managing director of Kowsar Publishing, the 13 retracted papers all included extra authors added by the same Internet Protocol (IP) address. Cyber police in Iran found the same IP address had also accessed the 52 other papers, which were in various stages of the publishing process (such as peer review) and not yet online, Miri told Retraction Watch.
Most of the authors on the 13 retracted papers are based in institutions in Iran; some were co-authors on the 58 retractions recently issued as part of a mass clean-up by publishers BioMed Central and Springer, citing fake reviews, adding inappropriate authors, and plagiarism.