The Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has declared that once-lauded surgeon Paolo Macchiarini and three co-authors committed misconduct in a 2015 paper.
The decision by KI’s vice chancellor will be followed by a request to retract the paper, published by the journal Respiration.
In the paper, the researchers described the case of a man with an acute lung disorder, in which he received an experimental treatment involving the use of his own blood-derived cells and the drug erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells. The patient “demonstrated an immediate, albeit temporary, clinical improvement,” according to the authors. However, he ultimately died of multisystem organ failure.
When several recent submissions raised a red flag, a pediatrics journal decided to investigate. The journal, Pediatrics in Review, discovered “citation and attribution errors” in three case studies, which the journal has now retracted.
Luann Zanzola, the managing editor of the journal, explained that the editors caught the errors when they scanned the three papers—one published in 2014 and two in 2015—using the plagiarism detection software, iThenticate. Zanzola told us that the three case studies “were flagged for high iThenticate scores,” and when the authors could not adequately explain the amount of text overlap, the editors retracted the papers.
Take this case: In a court transcript from Feb. 23, 2017, Bryan Hardin testified that he was a peer reviewer on a 2016 paper in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, which found that asbestos does not increase the risk of cancer. In the deposition, Hardin—who works at the consulting firmVeritox—also said that he has testified in asbestos litigation on behalf of automakers, such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, but said he had not disclosed these relationships to the journal.
Last year, the first author of the 2016 review withdrew a paper from another journal (by the same publisher) which concluded asbestos roofing products are safe, following several criticisms — including not disclosing the approving editor’s ties to the asbestos industry. In this latest case, the journal told us it believes the review process for the paper was up to snuff, but two outside experts we consulted said they believed Hardin’s relationships — and failure to disclose them — should give the journal pause.
We obtained a copy of the transcript from Christian Hartley, who was representing a man suing a mining company because the man developed cancer after being exposed to asbestos at work. When Hartley asked Hardin whether he had told the journal about testifying for companies involved in asbestos litigation, Hardin responded:
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.
A once-lauded researcher in the field of infectious disease — who has since been found guilty of misconduct — has retracted a second paper.
Last year, the University of Dundee in Scotland investigated and ultimately concluded that Robert Ryan — whose work focused on infections that can be deadly in people with lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis — had committed “serious research misconduct,” affecting multiple publications. After appealing the decision, Ryan resigned.
We covered his first retraction earlier this month, which cited multiple instances of image duplication. Now Ryan has retracted his second paper, published in 2011 in Journal of Bacteriology, also due to image problems.
When authors are faced with filling out a journal’s conflict of interest form, deciding what qualifies as a relevant conflict can be tricky. When such omissions come to light, only rarely do they result in retractions – and certainly not author bans. But there are exceptions.
In October, the journal Chest retracted a 2015 review article exploring how mechanical ventilation can be used most effectively to manage acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) after finding that the authors failed “to disclose all relevant conflicts of interest.” What’s more, the journal initially planned to ban the two authors with undisclosed conflicts from submitting papers to the journal for three years, but ultimately decided against it.
The Committee on Publication Ethics says that retractions may be warranted in cases of undisclosed conflicts of interest, but in our experience, most notices that cite that reason mention other problems with the paper, as well. Not this case – here, the only thing that seemed wrong with the paper was the authors’ failure to mention their ties to a ventilator company. The authors requested a correction – the usual fix, one accepted by the other journals they contacted – but to Chest, that wasn’t enough.
The authors of a 2014 study about asthma in Norwegian athletes have retracted it after realizing they hadn’t obtained proper approval from an ethical committee.
The study’s first and corresponding author of the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine — Julie Stang from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo — told us the authors had struggled to obtain ethical approval for the research, but believed the issue had been resolved.
However, earlier this year, a member of an ethical committee wrote an article in the Norwegian press about his concerns regarding the study, which tested the effects of three drugs on top athletes’ breathing. In it, he said the Regional Committees for medical and health professional research ethics (REC) had not approved the study, as members were concerned the presumably healthy athletes were being exposed to drugs used to treat asthma, which could enhance their performance.
Stang has denied that the study had anything to do with boosting athletic performance.
A rising star in the field of infectious disease has resigned from the University of Dundee in Scotland after the university upheld the findings of an investigation concluding that he committed misconduct.
Earlier this year, Robert Ryan was suspended amidst the investigation, which focused on data doctoring in several publications. We’ve now been forwarded an internal email from Julian Blow, dean of the School of Life Sciences, which alerts staff that Ryan has resigned, and the institution has upheld its finding of misconduct, despite Ryan’s appeal.
Two former researchers at Duke University at the center of a lawsuit by a whistleblower to recoup millions in federal funding have lost yet another paper.
This is hardly the first retraction for Erin Potts-Kant, who used to work in the pulmonary lab of now-retired William Michael Foster. Earlier this year, a lawsuit filed by a former colleague of Potts-Kant and Foster was unsealed alleging that the pair — along with the university — included fraudulent data in materials involving more than 60 grants, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
That is the legal side of their story. The science publishing side is that Potts-Kant and Foster have been steadily adding to their list of retractions — this paper represents her 16th, and his 13th.