About Adam Marcus

20130815_130338Adam Marcus is the editorial director for primary care at Medscape. He is the former managing editor of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News. His freelance articles have appeared in Science, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, The Scientist, Birder’s World, Sciam.com, and many other publications and web sites.

Adam has an BA in history from the University of Michigan and an MA in science writing from Johns Hopkins. He can be reached at [email protected]

For more on what this blog is about, see its first post.

68 thoughts on “About Adam Marcus”

    1. Hi Dr Adam Marcus and Dr Ivan Oransky,

      Hello! You have a wonderful blog here. It is great that WordPress and AutoMattic are supporting you in the unfortunate and vexing censorship issue, which, hopefully, will be amicably resolved and never happen again. It is really not easy to be a conscientious scientist and/or journalist nowadays, as gagging can come in many forms.

      I have just subscribed to your excellent blogs at retractionwatch.com, embargowatch.wordpress.com and pitchesthatmissed.blogspot.com.au/.

      By the way, I would like to inform you that the post at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/two-thirds-of-scientific-publications-retracted-are-fraudulent/ might be of some interest to you.

  1. Wasn’t sure where to post this.
    You may be interested in an ongoing investigation regarding fabrication of data by a graduate student happening at Columbia http://tinyurl.com/24jfm5g.
    what caught my attention was the following quote
    ‘The University is in the process of requesting the trustees to formally revoke Ms. Sezen’s Ph.D,” a Columbia spokesman said in a statement. Sames declined to speak to C&EN.’
    Thanks for you effort on this blog. I love it!

  2. The retractions highlighted on this site almost exclusively focus on researchers outside of the United States. Is there a particular reason for that phenomena?

    1. An interesting observation. We’d have to check the data, but agreed that at least recently, there are far more from outside of the US. Then again, it’s still a relatively small sample size. In any case, we write about as many as we can as they come along, based on alerts and tips from readers. Perhaps more come over the transom from other parts of the world. But worth some proper data mining.

      1. USA is only one country….while the rest of the world is quite a bit larger last time I checked !
        But its seems that the US which puts itself as the flag bearer of what and how science is not so innocent
        Maybe a bit better data analysis is needed or retraction watch may be retracting itself !
        Perhaps this is where alot of its learned considering how many people actually go to the US to learn science ?
        This is also interesting to note …hope you are going to check and scrutinize the authors other papers like you have done to do to everyone else on this blog.

        1. Thanks for the comment. We’re not sure what you mean by Retraction Watch “retracting itself,” but you seem to be commenting on our geographic distribution. If you’d like more information on that, we’d urge you to use the dropdown menu in the right column of every page. You can sort by country of origin.

          For example, here are our posts about US retractions: http://www.retractionwatch.com/category/by-country/united-states-retractions/
          Germany: http://www.retractionwatch.com/category/by-country/germany-retractions/
          Japan: http://www.retractionwatch.com/category/by-country/japan-retractions/
          Finland: http://www.retractionwatch.com/category/by-country/finland-retractions/


          As to your comment about the Science longevity paper, we covered it in July when it was retracted: http://www.retractionwatch.com/2011/07/21/sebastiani-group-retracts-genetics-of-aging-study-from-science/

  3. Because I love the Schadenfreude involved in retracted Cell papers, I thought I alert you to a notice that appears in the 1 April 2011 issue of the journal. (Retraction Notice to: DNA-PKcs-PIDDosome: A Nuclear Caspase-2-Activating Complex with Role in G2/M Checkpoint Maintenance).
    I’ll send you the link if you need it.

  4. Maybe you would like to find out the story behind these two retractions of papers from the lab of F Ashcroft in Oxford

    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 28;106(17):7263. Epub 2009 Apr 20.
    Retraction for Ma et al. “Glucose regulates the effects of leptin on hypothalamic POMC neurons”.

    Retraction for Xiaosong Ma et al., “Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Stimulates Hypothalamic Proopiomelanocortin Neurons”
    At the request of the authors, the following manuscript has been retracted: “Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Stimulates Hypothalamic Proopiomelanocortin Neurons” by Xiaosong Ma, Jens Bruning, and Frances M. Ashcroft, which appeared on pages 7125–7129 of the July 4, 2007 issue (Journal of Neuroscience.

  5. This is such a fascinating blog. I came across this only recently and it’s particularly timely as I am drafting my first manuscript ever. It just makes me double-triple-quadruple-check all my raw data and statistics, cross check all my blots and controls… because I don’t ever want to show up on a post on this website!

  6. Been a long term reader of your blog- you guys have been doing a great job. It was about time I contribute something and just thought I’d highlight these two retractions that have just come across my desk.

    1: [No authors listed] Related Articles
    Retraction. Fibronectin increases matrix metalloproteinase 9 expression through activation of c-Fos via extracellular-regulated kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathways in human lung carcinoma cells.
    J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 15;286(28):25416.
    PMID: 21882397 [PubMed – in process]

    2: [No authors listed] Related Articles
    Retraction. Activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor β/δ (PPARβ/δ) increases the expression of prostaglandin E₂ receptor subtype EP4. The roles of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein β.
    J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 15;286(28):25416.
    PMID: 21882370 [PubMed – in process]

  7. I tried to search Hannes Strasser on your web site. I am not sure you have heard about this one. Check out this retracted article in Lancet on stem cells for stress incontinence. He is also currently being tried in criminal court for doing research on patient’s without their consent.

  8. Why don’t scientific journals have a service like Westlaw and Lexis for attorneys? I can look up a case, and determine from the red, yellow and green flags whether a case is still “good law” on certain points made in the opinion. And it provides links to the cases that criticized, overturned, discussed etc. the first case. This would seem to be a big help to the situation where scientists continue to cite to and rely upon scientific papers that have been retracted or criticized.

  9. Did you all see this?
    Infect Immun. 2011 Oct;79(10):3855-9. Epub 2011 Aug 8.
    Retracted science and the retraction index.
    Fang FC, Casadevall A.

    Articles may be retracted when their findings are no longer considered trustworthy due to scientific misconduct or error, they plagiarize previously published work, or they are found to violate ethical guidelines. Using a novel measure that we call the “retraction index,” we found that the frequency of retraction varies among journals and shows a strong correlation with the journal impact factor. Although retractions are relatively rare, the retraction process is essential for correcting the literature and maintaining trust in the scientific process.

    [PubMed – in process]

    1. After almost 20 years at ORI, I want to say that many retractions, even for the most serious misconduct- ie data fabrication or falsification, fail to indicate who is responsible, thereby impugning the honesty of the innocent co-author, who have contributed their own valid data to a joint manuscript. They not only suffer a blow to their belief in the honesty of scientists, but it is unusual that the valid data can be published separately, thereby blocking the innocent (if inattentive) coauthors of credit for their valid findings. I believe it is up to the senior coauthor (or the most senior coauthor not involved in data falsiication, if the lab director/coauthor was directly responsible) to make it clear in the retraction wording who is and is not to be hel responsible. ORI tries to enforce this- but only has jurisdiction over data and publications involving USPHS funds or grant applications, and the retraction is often one of the last steps in a long process, taking place months or years after the false data is “out there”.


  10. I received an invitation from the Journal of Chemical Science and Technology (http://www.sjcst.org/) to submit a manuscript. Everything was normal in the e-mail, but then they said:

    “To promote the development and communication of chemistry technology, we cordially invite you to extend this paper 60% at least different from the original one and publish it in our journal. The paper will be published with no charge”

    Would you consider this an invitation to plagiarism?

    I think these type of journals give a bad image to open-access.

  11. Quick suggestion: in the vein of employers encouraging workplace safety by posting “this job has worked X many days without an accident” signs, it might help to encourage scientific oversight and accountability by tracking and publicizing “days without a retraction/correction/addendum etc.” data for labs or academic institutions.

  12. I saw in your list of countries “Holland”.

    Could you please change this in “The Netherlands”, the official name of this country.
    Holland is the name of 2 provinces of The Netherlands, and using this name is an insult to the inhabitants of the other 10 provinces.

    Thank you.

    1. Indeed! Sorry for that. I have a Dutch friend who said as much not long ago.
      I have added a category for The Netherlands; the trick will be recategorizing the old posts, but we’ll figure it out.

      Thanks for the comment!


  13. Hi Adam. Here’s one for you to consider: the “Australian Paradox” is an obvious candidate for retraction. Reliable nutrition information is critical in the fight against obesity and diabetes (“diabesity”). In Australia, the contribution of excess sugar consumption to obesity has been exonerated by high-profile but over-confident academics/scientists with very strong links to the sugar industry and other sugar sellers.

    No surprise I guess, but what’s interesting is that this deeply flawed paper with its recklessly false conclusion – “an inverse relationship” between sugar consumption and obesity, the Australian Paradox! – was published in a supposedly peer-reviewed science journal. Two respected scientists have agreed publicly that the authors’ conclusion belies the readily available facts.

    I’m arguing for the shoddy paper’s retraction by the authors, the journal Nutrients and/or the University of Sydney. It’s all documented at http://www.australianparadox.com/ and http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/research-causes-stir-over-sugars-role-in-obesity-20120330-1w3e5.html#ixzz20FXohd4R .

    Nothing has happened since March except that the authors have pretended their paper is fine. It isn’t. And it’s simply unreasonable to allow the false conclusion – “an inverse relationship” between sugar consumption and obesity, the Australian Paradox! – to sit uncorrected in a journal, misinforming scientists across the world via the Internet many months after the real facts have become clear.

    Because of the unreasonable delay in correcting the scientific record, one of the questions I’m now asking is when does an inadvertent series of major errors deliberately left uncorrected become an academic and scientific hoax? Any thoughts, anyone?

  14. Just happened upon Reaction Watch Rule 5.1 Q: is there a list of the rules, seems like a good and entertaining idea…

  15. Adam and Marcus – I would like to email you directly, but can not locate your contact information anywhere on this website.

  16. Help! Just published my first paper – short two-pager about an existing marine species newly discovered in my country. The proof readers at the journal have introduced five errors not of my doing. One is an entire incorrect sentence that they have inserted. I have now hit a wall of silence because it has gone to ‘print’ and they apparently don’t change things after that. I use inverted commas because it is an online journal so presumably it is entirely possible to make changes. At this rate I am going to be forced to retract…. Has anybody got any advice either on how to force the changes or about how to retract?

  17. Any possibility to get the “recent comments” list back? And preferably with more than just three recent comments. Pretty please?

    1. Thanks for noticing that it had disappeared, which wasn’t anything we did. Technical glitch, I guess. We’ve replaced it, but with just three comments. More would push down the rest of what’s in the right-hand nav too much.

  18. Will y’all be saying anything about the events at Hopkins described in the Washington Post this morning (and quoting Adam)?

  19. What happens in fields where publication in peer review journals is not the norm? I am thinking of the recent controversy in the field of economics pitting Reinhart-Rogoff vs Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin where Excel mistakes and very shoddy statistics has had real global implications. eg :http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21576362-seminal-analysis-relationship-between-debt-and-growth-comes-under How do retractions work when a journal is not involved?

  20. Hot off the press from Nature:

    “Nature | News
    Symmetry study deemed a fraud

    University finds evidence of fakery in Jamaican dance data.”


    News & Comment

    this was a 2005 cover of a dancing wireframe figure. One author began to suspect the other’s data… it doesn’t get any higher impact than this

  21. As experts in authorship matters, I was wondering if you could offer some guidance. I read that all authors have to approve submission of a paper. Unfortunately, a colleague of mine recently passed away. The manuscripts which he helped draft are being submitted with our colleague as author with a note of explanation to the editor and a footnote in the paper. These seem fairly simple. However, what about projects in which they were very much involved but where the manuscript drafting is done entirely after the time of death? Should their contribution be recognized in the acknowledgements rather than “author”?
    Many thanks.

  22. Hello, Thank you for your important website! In economics we have a committee that investigates plagiarism. There was a drastic case of self-plagiarism by a prominent researcher and two coauthors who published very similar research in at least four different journals without proper cross-references, you briefly mentioned it here:
    One of the journals made the corresponding author publicly apologize, http://aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.3.239
    his home faculty investigated
    and his contract was not renewed
    – he quickly got a new one elsewhere though – and they were put on the RePEc list of plagiarism offenders:
    However, at the website
    clear and extensive evidence was compiled that the self-plagiarism occurred in many other cases and with many other coauthors, over many years and in many journals. This was reported to the editors of some of the journals, the press, and the RePEc plagiarism committee.
    As far as I know, only the latter replied, as follows:
    “It was felt by many on the committee that it should not become a conduit for anonymos accusations. We guarantee the anonymity of the submitter, if requested, but we want a real person to bring the case to the table. We hope this small cost will prevent the committee from being overburdened by cases that are not worth pursuing.
    This says nothing about the merits of the case that is described. My understanding is that the relevant journals have been contacted, and the committee would take on the case if the journals are not reaching a conclusion, and somebody submits the case. We are not activiely seeking work.” Although about every economist knows about the case that ess widely reported in the press and blogs and there is a lot of outrage and quite some commenting in anonymous blogs about some of the coauthors, apparently everyone is afraid of making the case under her our his name, which in my eyes reflects very badly on our field. I hope letting your readership know about this can help us to find a solution.

  23. I recently criticized a paper because it contradicted the well-established information. In fact, the whole report could simply be an artifact. The Editorial manager provided responses from both the handling editor and the author but the justification is very weak.

    When I pressed the journal for an official opinion, I got the reply

    ” I have now discussed the issue with the Editor-In-Chief. We all agree that as far as we have already provided responses to your comments by both the Editor and the Author, and given that the manuscript has been published several years ago and the contact information for all authors is available, any further communication about the results reported there should only take place directly between you and the authors”.

    There should be criteria for correction/retraction and the handling editor must take responsibility if serious errors are found out.

    And if I bought spoiled milk in a supermarket, I am not supposed to talk to the manager of the milk factory.

    Any suggestions?

  24. I do research on human error rates. Given error rate data, I would expect a decent percentage of articles to be wrong simply because of calculation errors. Have you or anyone you know done an analysis of reasons for retractions that includes an calculation errors category?

    Thanks, Ray Panko, University of Hawaii

  25. Just learned about your site by reading Stuart Ritchie’s wonderful book Science Fictions. It occurred to me that the assumption of normality is very common and also very wrong. For nearly 20 years I have maintained a site, http://www.mathestate.com which explores this rather deeply. Anyone wishing my help on a project related to Levy-Stable distributions is welcome to contact me.


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