Tag Archives: retractions

Another slew of science papers retracted because of fraud

The uncertainty of peer-review: A major scientific publisher has retracted 64 articles in 10 journals after discovering that the so-called independent peer reviewers for these articles were fabricated by the authors themselves.

The cull comes after similar discoveries of ‘fake peer review’ by several other major publishers, including London-based BioMed Central, an arm of Springer, which began retracting 43 articles in March citing “reviews from fabricated reviewers”. The practice can occur when researchers submitting a paper for publication suggest reviewers, but supply contact details for them that actually route requests for review back to the researchers themselves.

Overall, this indicates an incredible amount of sloppiness and laziness in the peer-review field. In total, more than a 100 papers have been retracted, simply because the journals relied on the authors to provide them contact information for their reviewers, never bothering to contact them directly.

I suspect that these retractions are merely the tip of the iceberg. Based on the garbage papers I see published in the climate field, I will not be surprised if even more peer-review fraud is eventually discovered.

Sixty science papers retracted

The uncertainty of peer review: An internal investigation has caused the retraction of sixty peer-reviewed scientific papers that were published by a single journal, the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC).

The network of JVC papers that emerged was incestuous, with the same small group of authors reviewing each other’s work and appearing together as co-authors. By the end of the year, the investigators had a list of 130 e-mail addresses associated with 60 papers, with one scientist as co-author on all of them: Chen-Yuan Chen of NPUE, who goes by “Peter.” When SAGE sent an e-mail to all 130 e-mail addresses requesting that the authors confirm their identity, none responded. “The authors were contacted again by SAGE in May 2014 to inform them that their papers would be retracted in the July 2014 issue,” says Sherman, but again none responded. According to SAGE’s official statement, Chen resigned from NPUE in February. Neither Chen nor officials at NPUE responded to e-mails from ScienceInsider

How was it possible for a scientist to become the sole reviewer on dozens of his own papers? The answer appears to be that Chen was allowed to nominate his own reviewers, who were not vetted by JVC,

Chen apparently created fake gmail accounts for both real and non-existing scientists and then chose these scientists both as his co-authors as well as his peer-reviewers.

A scientist whistleblower has found that publicly questioning bad science papers vs privately notifying the publisher significantly increases the chances of getting them retracted.

Surprise, surprise! A scientist whistleblower has found that publicly questioning bad science papers vs privately notifying the publisher significantly increases the chances of getting them retracted.

[Paul] Brookes ran the blog Science Fraud from July 2012 to January 2013, before closing it down in response to threats of legal action. For the PeerJ study, Brookes compared the outcomes of two sets of papers — 274 whose alleged data problems he chronicled on his blog, and 223 that he was e-mailed about but did not post before he shut the site down. Those private e-mails, he says, were also copied to the relevant journals, funding agencies and authors’ research institutions, so authorities would also have had the opportunity to review the allegations.

Of the 274 papers Brookes blogged about, 16 were retracted and 47 corrected by December 2013, he reports, meaning that action was taken in 23% of the cases. But of the 223 unpublicized papers, only two were retracted and five corrected — a rate of 3%.

As always, the more freedom and openness we have, the better. The only people who suffer in such a situation are the incompetent and dishonest ones.

A new study has found that scientific misconduct and fraud is on the rise.

A new study has found that scientific misconduct and fraud is on the rise.

A review of retractions in medical and biological peer-reviewed journals finds the percentage of studies withdrawn because of fraud or suspected fraud has jumped substantially since the mid-1970s. In 1976, there were fewer than 10 fraud retractions for every 1 million studies published, compared with 96 retractions per million in 2007.

The study’s authors suggest that the high pressure of big science might be a cause, combined with an overall decline in our culture itself. I wonder if the influence of government money, granted not because of good science but in the service of a political agenda, might also be a contributing factor.

Diederik Stapel, the psychologist who had fabricated his results in numerous published papers and has since resigned, is now under investigation by Dutch prosecutors.

Diederik Stapel, the psychologist who had fabricated his results in numerous published papers and has since resigned, is now under investigation by Dutch prosecutors.

Twenty-five of Stapel’s papers have now been retracted.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in the field of anaesthesiology are about to be retracted because their data was fabricated.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in the field of anesthesiology are about to be retracted because their data was fabricated.

After more than a decade of suspicion about the work of anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii, formerly of Toho University in Tokyo, investigations by journals and universities have concluded that he fabricated data on an epic scale. At least half of the roughly 200 papers he authored on responses to drugs after surgery are in line for retraction in the coming months.

Like many cases of fraud, this one has raised questions about how the misconduct went undetected for so long. But the scope and duration of Fujii’s deception have shaken multiple journals and the entire field of anesthesiology, which has seen other high-profile frauds in the past few years.

Fujii’s work was published in many different journals, where it appears none of his referees ever checked his data. Worse, this is not the first such case in this field.
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Another psychologist has resigned amid questions over the validity of his research.

Another psychologist has resigned amid questions over the validity of his research.

This and other recent cases (here, here, here, here, here, here) are more evidence that the peer review process in some fields is badly broken, that the reviewers are too often not doing the reviewing they are supposed to, and in some cases might very well be participating in scientific fraud themselves.

A investigation has found that Japanese anesthesiologist, Yoshitaka Fujii, fabricated a 172 scientific papers over the past 19 years.

A investigation has found that Japanese anesthesiologist, Yoshitaka Fujii, fabricated a 172 scientific papers over the past 19 years.

The panel focused on 212 of 249 known Fujii papers. It tried to review the raw data, laboratory notebooks, and records on the patients or animal subjects involved. Committee members also interviewed relevant people. Among the 172 papers judged bogus, the report claims that 126 studies of randomized, double-blind, controlled trials “were totally fabricated.” The committee identified only three valid papers. For another 37 papers, the panel could not conclusively determine if there had been fabrication. …

The panel said that the responsibility of those co-authors ranges from “serious” to “none at all.” The only one of Fujii’s co-authors specifically named in the summary is University of Tsukuba anesthesiologist Hidenori Toyooka. The report says Toyooka “was not involved in fabrication but bears significant responsibility” since he was Fujii’s supervising professor both at Tsukuba and when they both worked at Tokyo Medical and Dental University. Toyooka is listed as a co-author of many of the papers cited by the 23 journal editors. … At the same time, the investigation found that some scientists were unaware Fujii had included them as co-authors. In one case, two supposed co-authors told the panel their signatures on a submission cover letter were forged. [emphasis mine]

For a scientist to get that many fabricated papers published for that long in peer-reviewed journals strongly suggests that there is widespread corruption in his field, which in this case is anesthesiology.

Editors representing almost two dozen journals have publicly asked for an investigation into almost two hundred papers authored by anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii.

Editors representing almost two dozen journals have publicly asked for an investigation into almost two hundred papers authored by anesthesiologist Yoshitaka Fujii.

On 8 March, the journal Anaesthesia published an analysis questioning data in 168 of Fujii’s papers. Now the group of editors, mostly from journals focusing on anesthesiology, is planning to retract what may be Fujii’s entire English language body of work if the institutions with which he was affiliated cannot confirm that the studies took place, that the original research data have been verified, and that the studies had been properly reviewed in advance for ethical considerations.

Given the results of the Toho University investigation, getting those confirmations might be problematic. According to Ken Takamatsu, dean of the university’s faculty of medicine, Fujii told Toho’s investigating committee that he had discarded the experimental data for all of the studies then being questioned, but he claimed there had been no fabrication. [emphasis mine]

The number of papers in question equals 193. If these are all retracted it would be a new record.

The highlighted words illustrate something that pertains to the climate field, climategate, and Phil Jones of the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University. Jones, like the anesthesiologist above, had also destroyed his original data, making it impossible to verify the validity of his work. In both cases, such behavior is completely unacceptable in the field of science. It appears the field of anesthesiology recognizes this obvious fact. Sadly, the climate field does not, as Jones’ work is still considered valid by too many climate scientists.

One more thought: That it was possible for so many papers to be published in peer-reviewed journals — despite the fact that the editors now admit that they cannot even confirm that the studies took place — tells us a great deal about the failures in modern peer-reviewed science.

The new hockey stick

Steven Hayward at Powerline has noted a new hockey stick graph, produced by scientists and described in detail by the journal Nature. This one is not specifically about climate, but about the reliability of science and the peer-review process itself. To quote the Nature article:

[Retraction] notices [of science papers] are increasing rapidly. In the early 2000s, only about 30 retraction notices appeared annually. This year, the Web of Science is on track to index more than 400 (see ‘Rise of the retractions’) — even though the total number of papers published has risen by only 44% over the past decade.

Below is the graph from the Nature paper. As Hayward says, “Lo and behold, it looks like a hockey stick! (Heh.)”
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