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
The paper, published in Journal of Hazardous Materials, was one of seven articles by a team at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) in Chandigarh, India that contain fabricated data, according to an investigation by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in New Delhi. (IMTECH is part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.) Although it took one journal years to take action, another still has not retracted one of the seven flagged papers. Continue reading The three-year delay: Journal finally retracts paper based on made-up data
Past and present members of the editorial board of a public health journal have filed a formal complaint against the publisher after it appointed an editor with industry ties without consulting the board, and unilaterally retracted a paper by the former editor.
Meanwhile, the board and publisher of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health continue to exchange letters about the issue; the latest from the publisher, Taylor & Francis, answers some of the board’s ongoing questions — and declines to answer others.
For instance, managing director Ian Bannerman previously told the board that the publisher “reached out to” editorial board member Jukka Takala of the Workplace Safety and Health Institute in Singapore (by phone and email) before contacting new editor Andrew Maier. Takala told us last month, however, he was “never consulted on Dr. Maier.” In a letter dated May 25, Bannerman told the board:
A representative of Taylor & Francis has responded to concerns raised by former and current editorial board members of an occupational health journal, after the publisher took some significant actions without consulting the board.
The board’s main concerns: That the publisher hired a new editor with industry ties, and withdrew a paper by the former editor that was critical of corporate-sponsored research.
In a letter to the editorial board of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health dated last week, managing director Ian Bannerman writes:
First, an occupational health journal appointed a new editor with industry ties without consulting the editorial board. Then, with no explanation, it withdrew a paper by the previous editor that was critical of corporate-sponsored research — again, without consulting the editorial board.
At that point, they’d had enough.
Yesterday, the editorial board of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health sent a letter to the publisher, Taylor & Francis, expressing their “grave concerns” over the future of the journal, and its recent actions.
As part of the letter — signed by 30 past and present editorial members and the founding editor — they write:
Earlier this year, an environmental journal told an activist group it was going to retract a study about the safety of roofing products made from asbestos. Now the journal has let the authors withdraw the paper — a different process, according to the journal.
The move follows multiple letters from critics asking to retract a study, which found exposure to asbestos-containing roofing products to be within safe limits. The study’s critics claimed that it contains multiple problems, including not declaring the approving editor’s links with the asbestos industry, grouping together different materials with varying levels of asbestos exposures, and providing misleading information.
Although the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) initially said it planned to retract the paper, last month, Stephen Reynolds, president of JOEH’s board of directors, sent a letter to Kathleen Ruff, director of the organization Right On Canada, saying plans had changed: Continue reading A journal said it would retract a paper about asbestos — now it’s “withdrawn.” What changed?
Some scientists raise their eyebrows when they see a paper was accepted only a day or two after being submitted — which is exactly what happened during an academic debate over a controversial topic: e-cigarettes.
In 2015, a group of Harvard researchers published a paper in Environmental Health Perspectives suggesting the flavoring added to e-cigarettes could be harmful; the next year, another group criticized the paper in the journal, noting the chemicals may not be as dangerous as the original paper claimed. The Harvard researchers then fired back, noting that the criticism cited two papers that were accepted within one and three days after submission, and therefore “appear not to have been peer reviewed.”
However, a little digging suggests otherwise.
The editor of the journal that published both of the cited papers in question — Toxicology Reports — told us the papers were peer reviewed at Toxicology, but transferred to his journal as part of a process known as portable peer review.
Here are more details from Lawrence Lash, editor-in-chief of Toxicology Reports from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan: Continue reading A paper on chemical safety was accepted one day after submission. Was it peer reviewed?
Only a few months after publication, an environmental journal has told an activist group it plans to retract a paper about the safety of roofing products containing asbestos after facing heavy criticism.
This summer, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) received multiple letters asking the to retract the paper. Critics of the paper — which concluded that exposures to asbestos-containing roofing products were within safety limits — argued the article provided misleading information, grouped different materials with different asbestos exposures together, and failed to note the approving editor’s ties to the asbestos industry.
The article was published as a case study, which is considered a type of “column” by the journal, thereby bypassing its peer-review system; according to an email the journal sent to the organization Right on Canada (which a representative forwarded to Retraction Watch), this served as the basis for the journal’s decision to pull the paper.
According to the email, the journal’s editorial board decided on August 10 to retract “Airborne asbestos exposures associated with the installation and removal of roofing products” due to
The corresponding author of the study that detected toxic leaks from the work of prominent British artist Damien Hirst has now retracted it — but most of his co-authors disagree with the decision.
The April Analytical Methods study was covered extensively by the media when it suggested staff at Damien Hirst’s 2012 exhibition at Tate Gallery in London of dead animals embalmed in formaldehyde were being exposed to higher than recommended levels of the carcinogen.
Tate and Hirst’s company, Science Limited, immediately objected to the results; we’ve obtained what appears to be letter from a lawyer for Science Limited to the corresponding author of the paper — Pier Giorgio Righetti of the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy — saying it was “deeply concerned and troubled by the claims” in the paper.
Last month, the journal issued an expression of concern (EOC) for the paper, nothing the data may not be reliable, and on July 15, Righetti announced in a joint statement with Hirst’s company that he will be retracting his study.
Now, the paper has been officially retracted, noting more recent measurements show formaldehyde levels to be much lower than originally reported. But most of Righetti’s co-authors disagree with the decision, the notice says: Continue reading Study of air quality around Damien Hirst’s artwork retracted — against most authors’ wishes
Plagiarism and duplication can be deadly to a paper in any dose. In the case of a study on the toxicity of nanoparticles to plants, the publisher has presented the precise amount of plagiarism and duplications that ultimately felled the paper.
Specifically, according to Nanomaterials, 56% of “Potential Impact of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Exposure to the Seedling Stage of Selected Plant Species” was taken from other work.
Here are more details from the retraction notice, published last year: