Weekend reads: A researcher explains how he publishes every three days; scientific bounty hunters; criminalizing scientific misconduct

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The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up past 400. There are more than 49,000 retractions in The Retraction Watch Database — which is now part of Crossref. The Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker now contains more than 250 titles. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers? What about The Retraction Watch Mass Resignations List — or our list of nearly 100 papers with evidence they were written by ChatGPT?

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

Continue reading Weekend reads: A researcher explains how he publishes every three days; scientific bounty hunters; criminalizing scientific misconduct

Superconductor researcher loses fifth paper

Ranga Dias

Ranga Dias, the physics researcher whose work on room-temperature superconductors has been retracted after coauthors raised concerns about the data, has lost another paper for the same reason. 

This retraction brings Dias’ total to five, by our count

The University of Rochester in New York, where Dias is an assistant professor, is investigating his work, Science has reported. Washington State University, where Dias obtained his PhD, is also investigating allegations of plagiarism in his thesis. 

Dias has not responded to our request for comment about his latest retraction, of a 2021 paper in Physical Review Letters titled “Synthesis of Yttrium Superhydride Superconductor with a Transition Temperature up to 262 K by Catalytic Hydrogenation at High Pressures.” The article has been cited 178 times, according to information presented on its abstract page. 

In December, the journal published an expression of concern for the paper, stating it was investigating concerns “regarding the origins and integrity of the transport data” in several of the paper’s figures “with the cooperation of the authors.” 

On June 13, the journal retracted the paper. The notice states: 

Continue reading Superconductor researcher loses fifth paper

Journal investigating follow-up study that didn’t mention patients had died 

Peter Campbell

While presenting a paper in journal club, neurology resident at Baylor College of Medicine, Peter Campbell, noticed a potential problem. Two infants in a 2018 paper were reported to have died, but their data also appeared in a follow-up study published two years later with no mention of them being deceased. 

“It is unclear how a patient who reportedly died could be available for follow-up at 2 years,” he wrote in an email reporting his concerns to Frontiers, the publisher of the articles. The email, sent in April, went unanswered. 

Continue reading Journal investigating follow-up study that didn’t mention patients had died 

‘Exhausting’: Author finds another’s name on an Elsevier book chapter she wrote

Ina Vandebroek

When Ina Vandebroek read the latest edition of Pharmacognosy, an Elsevier textbook to which she contributed a chapter for the 2017 edition, she was shocked. Although she had declined to write for the 2023 update, her chapter was still in the book, under a different author’s name.

“When I first saw this, it was like somebody hit me on the head with a hammer and everything that I’d worked for all my life was put into question,” Vandebroek, an ethnobotanist and senior research fellow at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Kingston, Jamaica, told Retraction Watch. “This shakes my foundation of what I think science should stand for.”

The situation arose when one of the textbook’s editors, Simone Ann Marie Badal, a researcher at UWI, asked if Vandebroek wanted to revise her chapter for the new edition. Vandebroek declined, assuming her chapter would be omitted from the book.

Continue reading ‘Exhausting’: Author finds another’s name on an Elsevier book chapter she wrote

Elsevier reopens investigation into controversial hydroxychloroquine-COVID paper

Didier Raoult

A March 2020 paper that helped spur the discredited claim hydroxychloroquine could treat COVID-19 is under investigation – again – after some of its authors asked to take their names off the article. 

The lead author, retired researcher Didier Raoult, has 12 retractions, according to The Retraction Watch Database. Those retractions involved violations of ethics rules. Journals are investigating many other articles by Raoult and his colleagues, including their work on hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID. 

The paper, “Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial,” was published in the International Journal for Antimicrobial Agents. It has been cited more than 3,000 times, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science. 

Continue reading Elsevier reopens investigation into controversial hydroxychloroquine-COVID paper

Nature retracts highly cited 2002 paper that claimed adult stem cells could become any type of cell

Nature has retracted a 2002 paper from the lab of Catherine Verfaillie purporting to show a type of adult stem cell could, under certain circumstances, “contribute to most, if not all, somatic cell types.” 

The retracted article, “Pluripotency of mesenchymal stem cells derived from adult marrow,” has been controversial since its publication. Still, it has been cited nearly 4,500 times, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science – making it by far the most-cited retracted paper ever.

In 2007, New Scientist reported on questions about data in the Nature paper and another of Verfaille’s articles in Blood. Nature published a correction that year. 

The errors the authors corrected “do not alter the conclusions of the Article,” they wrote in the notice. 

Continue reading Nature retracts highly cited 2002 paper that claimed adult stem cells could become any type of cell

Journal hijackers still infiltrate Scopus despite its efforts

Anna Abalkina

Last December, Elsevier’s Scopus index deleted all links to journal homepages in response to the widespread issue of journal hijacking, when a legitimate title, website, ISSN, and other metadata of a journal are taken over without permission. 

Scopus has been a major target. I’ve cataloged 67 cases since 2013 of hijacked journals penetrating the database.  I found 23 profiles of journals that contained links to a cloned version, and 33 cases of content from the cloned version of a journal that had not been peer reviewed appearing in the profile of the legitimate journal, while 11 did both.

Since the deletion of all homepage links in the profiles of journals in Scopus, how journal hijackers would adapt their shady business practices has been unclear. We assumed they would continue hijacking new journals,  would they continue to target Scopus, given they could index only unauthorized content? 

Now, we have evidence hijacked journals remain in the database and continue to infiltrate it.

Continue reading Journal hijackers still infiltrate Scopus despite its efforts

Wiley journal retracts two papers it said were fine following criticism years ago

Mark Bolland

Two years after a journal told sleuths it wouldn’t retract flawed papers, it changed course and pulled them.  

Mark Bolland, a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who is no stranger to unearthing academic wrongdoing, first sent complaints about one of the papers to The International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (IJGO)  in March 2021. He said the data on bone mineral density in “Isosorbide mononitrate versus alendronate for postmenopausal osteoporosis,” which has been cited 26 times according to Clarivate’s Web of Science, were “impossible.”

Bolland said the data the researchers reported were not consistent with the reference values provided by the maker of the device used to measure bone density in the study. The normal ranges are 0.96 +/- 0.12 g/cm2, whereas the experiment reported much lower values of 0.21-0.24 g/cm2.

In an email to Retraction Watch, Bolland’s colleague Andrew Grey called the data “laughable, frankly.”

Continue reading Wiley journal retracts two papers it said were fine following criticism years ago

Weekend reads: ‘An epidemic of scientific fakery’; death threats for critics; Cleveland Clinic settles mismanagement allegations for $7.6 million

Would you consider a donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work?

The week at Retraction Watch featured:

Our list of retracted or withdrawn COVID-19 papers is up past 400. There are more than 49,000 retractions in The Retraction Watch Database — which is now part of Crossref. The Retraction Watch Hijacked Journal Checker now contains more than 250 titles. And have you seen our leaderboard of authors with the most retractions lately — or our list of top 10 most highly cited retracted papers? What about The Retraction Watch Mass Resignations List — or our list of nearly 100 papers with evidence they were written by ChatGPT?

Here’s what was happening elsewhere (some of these items may be paywalled, metered access, or require free registration to read):

Continue reading Weekend reads: ‘An epidemic of scientific fakery’; death threats for critics; Cleveland Clinic settles mismanagement allegations for $7.6 million

Expression of concern coming for paper some used to link COVID-19 vaccines to deaths

The journal BMJ Public Health is placing an expression of concern on a paper it said “gave rise to widespread misreporting and misunderstanding,” namely, “claims that it implies a direct causal link between COVID-19 vaccination and mortality.” 

The article, “Excess mortality across countries in the Western World since the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘Our World in Data’ estimates of January 2020 to December 2022,” appeared online June 3, and quickly attracted attention and criticism. The expression of concern is not yet live. 

In their conclusions, the authors wrote: 

Continue reading Expression of concern coming for paper some used to link COVID-19 vaccines to deaths