Retraction Watch

Weekend reads: Ethical issues could cost university millions in funding; Stolen bone raises questions; Ingelfinger rides again

The week at Retraction Watch featured a the story of how a nonexistent paper earned 400 ciations, a lawsuit filed against a journal for publishing criticism, and the retraction and replacement of a paper by a group of anti-vaccine advocates. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Ethically dubious research backed by tech billionaire Peter Thiel could cost a university millions […]

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PLOS ONE retracts two papers one year after author says he okayed the move

PLOS ONE has retracted two 2014 papers from a group of researchers, after an institutional investigation confirmed image duplication. Although the authors initially asked to correct the figures in the two papers, they ultimately agreed with the decision to retract. Mrinal K. Maiti—an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur and corresponding author […]

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Caught Our Notice: “Profoundly sorry” researcher retracts Alzheimer’s-DDT paper

Title: Immune response cytokines as potential biomarkers for DDT induced neurodegeneration What Caught Our Attention:  Does exposure to pesticides such as DDT influence the onset of Alzheimer’s? Hard to say, especially after a researcher retracted a recent paper purporting to find a link in mice, a few months after a press release was issued about the […]

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WHO asks dozens of journals to correct papers on diagnostic tool developed by former collaborators

In one of the largest such requests we’ve ever heard of, the World Health Organization has asked 46 journals to correct articles that refer to a bone fracture risk diagnostic tool as developed or endorsed by the WHO. By WHO’s count, the tool — known as Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX), which has come under […]

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A physics journal agreed to retract a paper several months ago. It’s still not retracted.

A physics journal says it has planned for several months to retract a 2006 paper by a prominent researcher with multiple retractions, after a concerned reader notified the editor about extensive duplication. But, more than seven months after receiving the complaint, the journal Thin Solid Films has not yet taken action. So what’s taking so […]

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Journal replaces anti-vaccine paper it retracted for missing conflicts, “number of errors”

A journal retracted a paper about how conflicts of interest might be influencing research into the link between vaccines and autism because — wait for it — the authors failed to disclose conflicts of interest. According to the retraction notice, the editors retracted the paper without the authors’ agreement, because the authors had a host […]

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Caught Our Notice: Oops — paper included proofreader’s query

Title: Concise Review: Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Neurodegenerative Diseases What Caught Our Attention: Everyone makes mistakes — but some are more amusing than others. In one recent correction, the publisher (Wiley) admitted to including a proofreader’s query in the published manuscript. But didn’t say what the query was. We looked around, and think we found the added […]

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The “phantom reference:” How a made-up article got almost 400 citations

Here’s a mystery: How did a nonexistent paper rack up hundreds of citations? Pieter Kroonenberg, an emeritus professor of statistics at Leiden University in The Netherlands, was puzzled when he tried to locate a paper about academic writing and discovered the article didn’t exist. In fact, the journal—Journal of Science Communications—also didn’t exist. Perhaps Kroonenberg’s […]

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Journal silently fixes emergency care paper — after misleading press coverage

Last month, a colleague of emergency medicine doctor Daniel Waxman sent him some newly reported findings that took him by surprise. Waxman knew from the title of a press release about the recent paper — “Nearly Half of U.S. Medical Care Comes From Emergency Rooms” — that something was wrong. Immediately I said, that’s not […]

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Lawyers call libel suit against journal and critic “lawless” but “well written”

A $10 million defamation suit filed by a Stanford University professor against a critic and a journal may be an assault on free speech, according to one lawyer, but at least it’s “well written.” Kenneth White, a lawyer at Southern California firm Brown White & Osborn who frequently blogs about legal issues related to free […]

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Caught Our Notice: Dear peer reviewer, please read the methods section. Sincerely, everyone

Title: Plasma contributes to the antimicrobial activity of whole blood against Mycobacterium tuberculosis What Caught Our Attention: A big peer review (and perhaps academic mentorship) fail.  These researchers used the wrong anticoagulant for their blood samples, leading them to believe that certain blood components were fighting microbes. The authors counted the number of colonies to show […]

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Weekend reads: Publishing’s day of reckoning; an Impact Factor discount — on lunch; a prize for negative results

The week at Retraction Watch featured mass resignations from a journal’s editorial board, software that writes papers for you, and a retracted retraction. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: “Academic journal publishing is headed for a day of reckoning,” says librarian Patrick Burns. (The Conversation) A Beijing BBQ joint, named after The Lancet, is offering discounts to researchers who […]

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A journal retracted a paper when authors couldn’t pay. Then it retracted the retraction.

Oops. A plant journal recently retracted a 2017 paper, saying the authors couldn’t pay the page charges ($110/page). The notice has since disappeared, and the journal announced on Twitter Thursday it was issued in error. The paper is now intact on the journal’s site. This isn’t the first time the journal has withdrawn a statement […]

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Journal to assemble “senior editorial committee” to review paper that led to board resignations

Following heavy criticism of its decision to correct — instead of retract — a paper accused of plagiarism, Scientific Reports is adding an editor’s note to the paper and forming a committee to review the case. The 2016 paper in question has been accused of plagiarism by a researcher at Johns Hopkins, Michael Beer. Following […]

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Newly released AI software writes papers for you — what could go wrong?

This week, we received a press release that caught our attention: A company is releasing software it claims will write manuscripts using researchers’ data.  The program, dubbed “Manuscript Writer,” uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate papers, according to the company that created it, sciNote LLC. A spokesperson explained the software generates a first draft the […]

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Carlo Croce, facing misconduct allegations, accuses former colleague of misconduct

Carlo Croce, a cancer researcher who has faced numerous research misconduct allegations, recently accused a former lab member of misconduct. Although an institutional probe did not support that allegation, Croce’s efforts have led to a retraction. In November 2015, Croce and another cancer researcher at Ohio State University (OSU), Ramiro Garzon, contacted PLOS ONE, alleging […]

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Caught Our Notice: A nearly unreadable paper criticizing 2017 Nobel pick

Title: Nobel Prize Physiology 2017 (for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm) is On Fiction as There Is No Molecular Mechanisms of Biological Clock Controlling the Circadian Rhythm. Circadian Rhythm Is Triggered and Controlled By Divine Mechanism (CCP – Time Mindness (TM) Real Biological Clock) in Life Sciences  What Caught Our Attention: This isn’t a retraction — rather, it’s […]

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Caught Our Notice: Author of controversial retracted paper earns Swedish gov’t grant

Last week, a Swedish government funding agency announced 325 recipients of grants in Natural and Engineering Sciences. We don’t normally write about grant announcements, but we’re flagging this one because one recipient may be familiar to our readers. It is Peter Eklöv of Uppsala University, a co-author of a now-retracted Science paper about the potential […]

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Most editors of top medical journals receive industry payments: report

When examining the roles of conflicts of interest in academic publishing, most research focuses on transparency around the payments authors receive. But what about journal editors? According to a new Peer J preprint, two-thirds of editors at prominent journals received some type of industry payment over the last few years – which, at many journals, […]

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17 Johns Hopkins researchers resign in protest from ed board at Nature journal

More than a dozen members of the editorial board at Scientific Reports have resigned after the journal decided not to retract a 2016 paper that a researcher claims plagiarized his work. As of this morning, 19 people — mostly researchers based at Johns Hopkins — had stepped down from the board, according to Hopkins researcher […]

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