Maybe you’re a researcher who likes keeping up with developments in scientific integrity. Maybe you’re a reporter who has found a story idea on the blog. Maybe you’re an ethics instructor who uses the site to find case studies. Or a publisher who uses our blog to screen authors who submit manuscripts — we know at least two who do.
A paper in Contraception that purported to show serious flaws in an earlier study of abortion laws and maternal health has been retracted, after the authors of the original study found what were apparently significant flaws in the study doing the debunking.
That’s the short version of this story. The longer version involves years of back-and-forth, accusations of conflict of interest and poor research practice, and lawyers for at least two parties. Be warned: We have an unusual amount of information to quote from here that’s worth following.
As the editor of Contraception, Carolyn Westhoff, put it:
The authors of a 2017 paper on how chronic inflammation might hasten aging have retracted the work because it turned out to be a collage of previously published articles.
The paper, “Chronic Inflammation: Accelerator of Biological Aging,” appeared in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, an Oxford University Press title. It has been cited 41 times, earning it a “Highly Cited Paper” designation from Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, meaning it has earned more citations than 99% of papers published in its field that year. The first author is Bertrand Fougère, of Université de Toulouse III Paul Sabatier and Tours University Hospital.
A group of rheumatology researchers in Egypt that lost a paper in 2016 for a variety of problems has lost two more.
The authors common to the two papers, Anna Abou-Raya and Suzan Abou-Raya, are based at the University of Alexandria, which did not find evidence of scientific misconduct, according to one of the retraction notices. The journal that published the two papers, The Journal of Rheumatology, however, found several other issues that led them to retract the papers.
The story of Levon Khachigian’s research is a long and winding tale.
One place to start would be in October 2009, when a paper co-authored by Khachigian — whose work at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has been funded by millions of dollars in funding from the Australian government, and has led to clinical trials, although more on that later — was retracted from Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. The “corresponding author published the paper without the full consent or acknowledgement of all the researchers and would like to apologize for this error,” according to that notice. Continue reading An Australian university cleared a cancer researcher of misconduct. He’s now retracted six papers.