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Another Australian retraction has been added to Retraction Watch – 5 Feb 20160

Posted by Admin in on February 6, 2016

“An investigation at the University of New South Wales in Australia has led to a fifth retraction for a cancer researcher long accused of misconduct, due to “unresolvable concerns” with some images.

As we reported in December, UNSW cleared Levon Khachigian of misconduct, concluding that his previous issues stemmed from “genuine error or honest oversight.” Now, Circulation Research is retracting one of his papers after an investigation commissioned by UNSW was unable to find electronic records for two similar images from a 2009 paper, nor records of the images in original lab books.”

05 February 2016 – Investigation prompts 5th retraction for cancer researcher for “unresolvable concerns”

About Retraction Watch
We launched Retraction Watch in August 2010, and although we didn’t predict this, it’s been a struggle to even keep up with retractions as they happen. While we occasionally dip into history in our “Best Of” series, realistically we don’t want to fall even further behind. If we ever have the resources to grow the site, this will be one of our priorities.

Do scientists need audits? (Papers: Viraj Mane and Amy Lossie 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on February 5, 2016

If audits work for the Internal Revenue Service, could they also work for science? We’re pleased to present a guest post from Viraj Mane, a life sciences commercialization manager in Toronto, and Amy Lossie at the National Institutes of Health, who have a unique proposal for how to improve the quality of papers: Random audits of manuscripts.

Skim articles, books, documentaries, or movies about Steve Jobs and you’ll see that ruthlessness is the sine qua non of some of our greatest business leaders. It would be naïve to assume that scientists somehow resist these universal impulses toward leadership, competition, and recognition. In the white-hot field of stem cell therapy, where promising discoveries attract millions of dollars, egregious lapses in judgment and honesty have been uncovered in Japan, Germany, and South Korea. The nature of the offenses ranged from fraudulent (plagiarism and duplication of figures) to horrifying (female subordinates coerced into donating their eggs).

When a researcher embraces deception, the consequences extend well beyond the involved parties. Former physician Andrew Wakefield published a linkage between MMR vaccines and autism with overtly substandard statistical and experimental methods, while hiding how his financial compensation was tied to the very hysteria he helped unleash.”

Mane V and Lossie A (2016) Do scientists need audits?. Retraction Watch, 23 May. Available at: (accessed 6 February 2016).


What to do when you make a mistake? Advice from authors who’ve been there (Alison McCook 2016)0

Posted by Admin in on January 31, 2016

“After a group of researchers noticed an error that affected the analysis of a survey of psychologists working with medical teams to help pediatric patients, they didn’t just issue a retraction — they published a commentary explaining what exactly went wrong.

The error was discovered by a research assistant who was assembling a scientific poster, and noticed the data didn’t align with what was reported in the journal. The error, the authors note, was:

an honest one, a mistake of not reverse coding a portion of the data that none of the authors caught over several months of editing and conference calls. Unfortunately, this error led to misrepresentation and misinterpretation of a subset of the data, impacting the results and discussion.

Needless to say, these authors — who use their “lessons learned” to help other researchers avoid similar missteps — earn a spot in our “doing the right thing” category. The retraction and commentary both appear in Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology.

Their first piece of advice in “Retraction experience, lessons learned, and recommendations for clinician researchers” — assume errors will happen, and not vice versa:

1. Be mindful that the likelihood of making errors in a number of research endeavors is high and common. Assume that errors will be made rather than not! Risk for errors is higher in our current research climate where there are often larger study teams, the members are in different locations, and may represent individuals from different disciplines with diverse skillsets.

Other advice: Assign authors overlapping tasks to avoid “gaps in accountability,” regularly check data entry and analysis, and set aside large blocks of time for research to avoid missing details. There were a few tidbits that seemed especially important, from our perspective:

Own your errors and avoid defensiveness by covering them up or diverting responsibility. Handle errors when they are discovered. Although challenging and humbling, errors should be handled and promptly corrected when discovered. Keep in mind how much worse it will be if your errors are discovered by your editor, a reader, or your institution.

Other especially noteworthy advice: Model ethical conduct for your students by doing the right thing.”

McCook A (2016) What to do when you make a mistake? Advice from authors who’ve been there. Retraction Watch, 5 March. Available at: (accessed 31 January 2016).

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process Psychology retractions have quadrupled since 1989: study (Papers: Marc Hauser et al 2015)0

Posted by Admin in on January 30, 2016

“Psychology has been home to some of the most infamous cases of fraud in recent years, and while it’s just a few bad apples who are spoiling the bunch, the field itself has seen an overall increase in retractions, according to a new paper by Jürgen Margraf appearing in Psychologische Rundschau and titled “Zur Lage der Psychologie.”

That increase, Margraf found, is not entirely due to its most well-known fraudsters.”

Hauser M, Smeesters D, Stapel D (2015) Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process Psychology retractions have quadrupled since 1989: study. Retraction Watch, 5 March. Available at: (accessed 31 January 2016).