Retraction Watch

Fracking paper overstated size of methane leak from Marcellus Shale, earning retraction

Last spring, a group of environmental scientists reported an impressive finding: Hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking) in the Marcellus Shale region of the eastern United States was leaking enough methane to power a city twice the size of Washington, D.C. (We didn’t come up with that comparison, apt though it may be.) Turns out […]

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Caught Our Notice: When data went missing, lab tech filled in the gaps

Title: Effects of cyclin E gene silencing on the proliferation of esophageal cancer cell lines, EC9706, Eca109 and KYSE30 What Caught Our Attention: When a reader noticed that six panels in one figure from a 2013 paper looked a little fishy, the authors decided to take a closer look. Following an internal investigation, the authors […]

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Author retracts 2009 chemistry paper with “heavily doctored” images

A researcher has retracted a 2009 chemistry paper after discovering that a figure had been “inappropriately edited.” According to the journal, a reader brought the images in question in Figure 1 to the editors’ attention last September. Timothy P. Lodge, distinguished professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis — and editor of Macromolecules through December […]

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Weekend reads: Why scientists respond badly to criticism; hidden retractions; journal cancels issue

The week at Retraction Watch featured a researcher whose ideas were stolen at least three times, a victory for Crossfit in its attempt to reveal peer reviewers, and the second delisting of a cancer journal by an index that praised it just months ago. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Peer review trains scientists to respond […]

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Judge orders journal to identify peer reviewers: CrossFit lawyer

A court is reportedly telling a journal to unmask a retracted paper’s peer reviewers, part of a defamation lawsuit involving the journal’s publisher and the CrossFit exercise brand. According to an attorney representing CrossFit, yesterday Judge Joel Wohlfeil of the San Diego Superior Court decided that the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) must turn […]

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Indexing company praises cancer journal, then kicks it out

A company that indexes journals — which, in turn, designates their impact factors — has delisted Oncotarget, a cancer journal that was recently removed from MEDLINE. Just three months ago, on October 18, the indexing company Clarivate Analytics (formerly part of Thomson Reuters) named Oncotarget a “rising star” in the field of molecular biology and genetics. […]

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“A painful lesson:” Authors retract paper after discovering mislabeled mouse lines

Neuroscientists have retracted a 2016 paper examining the genetic underpinnings of a degenerative motor neuron disease, after discovering that two mouse lines had been accidentally mislabeled. According to the retraction notice, published in December in Acta Neuropathologica Communications, mice engineered to have a specific genetic mutation were mislabeled as the normal or wild type group. […]

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Journal retracts letter for missing disclosure author says he tried to submit

An emergency medicine journal has retracted a letter to the editor, saying it didn’t include the author’s relevant commercial interest—which the author says he tried to disclose when he submitted the paper. The author, Guy Weinberg, told Retraction Watch he had noted his conflict of interest when he submitted the letter last March, but said […]

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Authors who lost two papers for plagiarism will be fired from university: report

Researchers from Nepal who had two papers retracted last year for plagiarism will face sanctions, according to a local media report. According to coverage last month from Republica, a news outlet in Nepal, the editor of Bali Medical Journal said he will blacklist the six authors. In a follow-up article, Dipak Shrestha, associate dean of […]

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CrossFit asks court to unmask peer reviewers of retracted study

Another front has opened up in the legal battle between the CrossFit exercise brand and a competitor, spurred by a now-retracted paper about the risk of injury from the workout program. Soon, a judge will decide whether CrossFit is entitled to learn the names of the study’s peer reviewers. CrossFit has tried and failed to […]

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Caught Our Notice: Doesn’t anyone do a literature review any more?

Titles: (1) Whole-Genome De Novo Sequencing of the Lignin-Degrading Wood Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (ATCC 20696) (2) Structure revision of aspergicin by the crystal structure of aspergicine, a co-occurring isomer produced by co-culture of two mangrove epiphytic fungi What Caught Our Attention: Two articles by different groups of authors recently suffered from the same (fatal) […]

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Meet the scientist whose ideas were stolen at least three times

Jeff Offutt, a professor of software engineering at George Mason University, has some stories to tell. He says that when one of his students wrote his first paper, the student reused four paragraphs from another source, not knowing he couldn’t do that. And then he tells of attending a PhD thesis defense where the student […]

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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: A researcher has hidden a marriage proposal in a paper. […]

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Authors retract paper on psychopathic traits in bosses

A paper on the prevalence of cruel social behavior in the corporate world has been retracted, following an investigation at the authors’ university. According to the senior author, she inadvertently paraphrased a dissertation on the same topic that did not belong to her student and co-author. On Sept. 21, 2016, Katarina Fritzon, a professor at […]

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A Cardinal sin? Communications researcher accused of plagiarizing former Pope

A communications researcher in Switzerland found guilty of plagiarism and sanctioned is facing more allegations—including that he plagiarized work by a former Pope. Peter J. Schulz, who works at the University of Lugano, has already lost two book chapters. He also has retracted two papers and issued three errata; the errata note failing to properly cite […]

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“Devastated” researchers worry co-author’s use of fake reviews could hurt their careers

In late December, Ana Khajehnezhad learned what no scientist wants to hear: One of her papers had been retracted. The reason: Her co-author had faked the reviews. Khajehnezhad, who works at the Plasma Physics Research Center at Islamic Azad University in Tehran, Iran, told Retraction Watch she was “devastated” to hear the news: I was […]

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Caught Our Notice: Journals still (slowly) purging archives of bad cell line studies

Title: Tanshinone IIA Induces Apoptosis in Human Oral Cancer KB Cells through a Mitochondria-Dependent Pathway What Caught Our Attention: Thousands of papers have relied on contaminated or wrong cell lines, a problem journals have not been particularly proactive in addressing. So far, only a few studies have been retracted for using misidentified cell lines. But […]

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Journal retracts “hopelessly flawed” paper linking cell phone radiation to pain

A journal is retracting a paper linking radio waves from cell phone towers to pain in amputees, despite objections from the authors. “Anthropogenic Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Elicit Neuropathic Pain in an Amputation Model,” originally published Jan. 16, 2016 in PLOS ONE, suggested that rats with injured nerves experienced pain when exposed to the type of […]

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Ever been asked to remove a reference for libel concerns? These authors have

Last month, Nature Ecology & Evolution published a series of responses to a previous article recommending essential reading for all ecologists. In one response, the authors argue that the list is highly biased in favor of white male authors, and raises the problem of bullying and harassment in academia. But the letter is missing one […]

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