Weekend reads: Jailed for speaking the truth; sexual harassment allegations at the Salk; children at risk in trials

Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance.

The week at Retraction Watch featured a debate over a flawed climate change paper, seven new retractions for a researcher under fire, and two chemists duking it out over credit for a 30-year-old technique. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: Jailed for speaking the truth; sexual harassment allegations at the Salk; children at risk in trials

Weekend reads: A new publishing scam; reproducibility as a political weapon; prosecuting predatory publishers

Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance.

The week at Retraction Watch featured a neither-correction-nor-retraction that made no one happy, a debate over an obesity intervention that ended without a resolution, and the retraction of a study that led to hyped claims about the dangers of tuna. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: A new publishing scam; reproducibility as a political weapon; prosecuting predatory publishers

Caught Our Notice: Forged email for corresponding author dooms diabetes paper

Title: Naringin Alleviates Diabetic Kidney Disease through Inhibiting Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Reaction

What Caught Our Attention: PLOS ONE had a few reasons for retracting a 2015 paper about a treatment for kidney disease due to diabetes: For one, despite what the paper claims, the authors did not obtain ethical approval to conduct the reported animal experiments. In addition, the corresponding author had no idea the paper had been submitted and published. How could a corresponding author be kept in the dark? It turns out, the journal was given an incorrect email address for him, so he didn’t receive any communications around the paper. (One author apparently used a third party editing company.) Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Forged email for corresponding author dooms diabetes paper

Journal retracts and replaces paper because author stole credit for group’s work

An optics journal has retracted and replaced a 2016 paper after discovering that the author took sole credit for a team project.

According to the retraction notice, a University of Leeds review determined that “the research on which the paper was based the work of a team,” not just that of Raied S. Al-Lashi, who was the sole author on the 2016 paper. Continue reading Journal retracts and replaces paper because author stole credit for group’s work

Journal retracts study linking “gut makeover” to weight loss, improved health

Over the objections of the authors, PLOS ONE has retracted a paper linking a diet designed to restore healthy gut bacteria to weight loss and other benefits.

The study, published in June 2017, claimed to show that a “Microbiome restoration diet improves digestion, cognition and physical and emotional wellbeing.” The diet was one championed by The Gut Makeover, whose author, Jeannette Hyde, is also a co-author on the paper (which the paper clearly disclosed). The diet is “designed to improve the health and diversity of the microbiome,” the microbiota that live within us.

The paper apparently prompted some criticisms, and even led one academic editor at PLOS ONE to resign. The journal  now says “the conclusions of this study are not supported by the data presented,” and have retracted it. But the case may reveal more about the limitations of peer review at the journal than it does about any weaknesses of the study. Continue reading Journal retracts study linking “gut makeover” to weight loss, improved health

Retracted letter about vaccine safety made potentially “slanderous” claims

Last October, David Hawkes read a letter to the editor that shocked him: It alleged Hawkes and a colleague had lied about their professional affiliations.

Hawkes told Retraction Watch that he contacted the journal Toxicology on October 19 to complain that the letter contained “numerous factual errors that could adversely affect our professional standing,” and requested the journal retract it as soon as possible. Hawkes told the editors of Toxicology:

…the claims about both myself and Joanne Benhamu are factually incorrect and we have received professional advice that they could be considered slanderous.

The journal retracted the letter yesterday, four months after Hawkes’ request. Continue reading Retracted letter about vaccine safety made potentially “slanderous” claims

Target of $2M recruitment grant falsified several images: ORI

A former NIH postdoc recruited to a tenure-track position last year committed multiple acts of misconduct in two papers, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

According to the new notice, issued by the ORI, Colleen Skau altered results and multiple figures across the papers, published in Cell and PNAS.

The misconduct occurred while she was completing a postdoc in the Cell Biology and Physiology Center at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Last year, The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced that Skau was among eight targets of a recruitment grant; the grant, totaling $2 million USD, was designed to help entice her to accept a tenure-track position at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. We’ve been unable to find a faculty page for Skau at UT Southwestern, and have contacted the university to determine whether she accepted a position there.

According to the ORI, Skau:

Continue reading Target of $2M recruitment grant falsified several images: ORI

PubMed shuts down its comments feature, PubMed Commons

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is closing PubMed Commons, the feature that enabled readers to post comments on abstracts indexed in PubMed.

NIH announced it will be discontinuing the service — which allowed only signed comments from authors with papers indexed in PubMed, among other restrictions — after more than four years, due to a lack of interest.

According to the statement, the last day to post a comment will be February 15:

Continue reading PubMed shuts down its comments feature, PubMed Commons

Weekend reads: A manuscript marriage proposal; a biotech company screw-up; “systematic failure” in run-up to vaccine trial

The week at Retraction Watch featured “a concerning – largely unrecognised – threat to patient safety,” the loss of a grant following findings of misconduct in a controversial study, and a request that authors remove a reference for libel concerns. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: A manuscript marriage proposal; a biotech company screw-up; “systematic failure” in run-up to vaccine trial

It’s official: When journals behave badly, there could be some punishment

Geri Pearson
Chris Graf

Here at Retraction Watch, we constantly receive emails from readers who are frustrated with a particular journal — perhaps it has ignored obvious problems in a published paper, performed only a cursory peer review, or takes months (or years) to take action on a problematic article. Many whistleblowers bring their concerns to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), which provides guidelines for best practices in publishing. But sometimes, those same whistleblowers complain to us that there aren’t adequate punishments for journals that ignore allegations or maintain improper practices — and COPE, though an important standard-bearer for the industry, lacks teeth. Did you know COPE can revoke a journal’s membership if it doesn’t uphold the organization’s ethical standards? This has always been possible, and a recently released COPE statement about its sanctions policy has tried to clarify its position. We spoke with COPE co-chairs Geri Pearson and Chris Graf about this and other recently announced changes.

Retraction Watch: Why did you change “Code of Conduct” to “Core Practices?”

Continue reading It’s official: When journals behave badly, there could be some punishment