Posts Tagged ‘retraction’

University of Queenland completes misconduct investigation

November 8, 2013

I had posted earlier in September about the unusual, and laudable, actions of the University of Queensland in itself requesting retraction of a paper for misconduct after a preliminary investigation had found that primary data could not be located.

The University has now completed its investigation and issued a press releaseThe work reported may never even have been done.

The paper, titled Treatment of articulatory dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, was published online in the European Journal of Neurology in October 2011. …..

The final report confirmed the interim finding that no primary data could be located, and there was no evidence that the study described in the article had been conducted. 

The paper’s authors have resigned from UQ, which means the University is not in a position to take disciplinary action in relation to the matter. 

A systematic review of other papers involving the authors of the retracted paper is nearing completion. 

The review of approximately 100 papers published since 2007 has so far found no further evidence of incorrect or non-existent data or of failure to obtain ethical approval. 

The review has raised questions about the authorship of a small number of papers, and this is being examined further. …. 

The paper in question seems to be this one:

B. E. Murdoch(1), M. L. Ng(2) and C. H. S. Barwood(1), Treatment of articulatory dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation,  European Journal of Neurology, 19: 340–347. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2011.03524.x

Publish to Retract: A new paradigm for research?

October 11, 2013

Retraction Watch has a story about a retraction accompanied by a blog post by the senior author – who requested the retraction. The senior author receives great credit for her transparency and integrity – no doubt well deserved.

Pamela Ronald does the right thing again, retracting a Science paper

But this is not the first time that a senior author has found a “mistake” in a publication and has then initiated a retraction. I observe that a paper retracted at the request of the author(s) usually leads to the general and admiring approval of the Journal and of peers. It has none of the stigma attached to a paper retracted by the Journal for plagiarism or data falsification or some other wrongdoing.

But looking through my jaundiced and cynical eyes, I wonder if this is just the start of a new paradigm in a brave new transparent world of research publication and retraction. Publish or Perish then gives way to Publish to Retract (or more accurately Publish quickly – to Retract if bad) which is then the name of the game.

  1. Dispense with time consuming data replication and other quality checks
  2. Rush to publication (but keep the retraction request ready)
  3. If any mistakes are subsequently suspected, warn the learned journal  that something is untoward and which is being investigated (best for the senior author to raise the suspicion about a potential mistake)
  4. Maximise citations of the work in question
  5. Find the mistake and request a retraction
  6. Retract in a blaze of publicity and gain brownie points for transparency and integrity

Junior authors – especially post-docs – are of course to be thrown under the proverbial bus. They only represent an acceptable level of collateral damage. Lists of publications may continue to include the retracted paper as long as it is done in the proper form

Author1, author 2….,Senior author x, Journal, Vol., page, date (retracted on date at the request of Senior author x)

Publication can then be very much faster and the potential downsides of mistakes or faulty analysis getting through to publication can be converted into the perceived benefits of transparency and integrity if the failings are ever discovered.

A hundred or so years ago it was not unknown for applicants to the Indian Civil Service to include something like this in their CV’s.

BA, Aligarh University, 1909, (fail)

It was of value for the applicant then to show that he had been accepted to sit for the exam. Having successfully run the gauntlet of peer-review in getting a paper accepted for publication (even if later retracted) could similarly be of some value.

Upstate Medical University researcher fabricated data to benefit his own company

October 10, 2013


Stem cell scientist says data in retracted paper “is not falsified or fabricated”


Researchers are not angels.

Just normal human behaviour from a man in a white coat.


Gerold Feuer, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Upstate Medical University

A scientific journal has retracted a study by an Upstate Medical University researcher accused of using fake data.

The paper was authored by Gerold Feuer, who was found guilty last year of using state money and employees to benefit his private biotechnology company.

The article, first published in 2008, was retracted Oct. 4 by the journal Stem Cells. It focused on a virus that causes cancer in humans.

The retraction notice was published today by Retraction Watch, a blog that reports on retractions of scientific papers. The notice said the article was retracted after an investigation by Upstate’s research misconduct committee showed data used in the study had been “fabricated and/or falsified.”

Feuer, 53, of the town of Onondaga, landed $6.2 million in state grants in 2009 for stem cell research at Upstate. He oversaw a lab that bred mice without immune systems, then “humanized” them with stem cells to mimic the human immune systems. The mice are used in research studies.

Upstate suspended Feuer without pay in late 2010 while investigating his management of a research contract and the way he was operating his lab at Upstate. In 2008 Feuer had started his own private company to develop the same kind of mice for use in testing by universities and companies.

Upstate brought 53 charges of misconduct against Feuer, accusing him of using Upstate’s employees to perform services for his company and charging the cost to a state grant.

An arbitrator reviewed the case and in an Aug. 20, 2012 decision found Feuer guilty of 30 of the 53 misconduct charges. But the arbitrator said Feuer never intended to personally profit from the arrangement and should be reinstated.

Upstate reinstated Feuer, a tenured professor of microbiology and immunology, Feb. 18 at an annual salary of $116,196 and placed him in an undisclosed off-campus assignment.
It’s unknown what effect the latest misconduct finding will have on his employment status, said Darryl Geddes, an Upstate spokesman.

Upstate officials said they completed a separate investigation in April that found Feuer and Prabal Banerjee, a co-author of the paper, guilty of scientific misconduct. Banerjee now works for Feuer’s company, HuMurine Technologies Inc. Upstate officials said two other researchers involved in the study, Michelle Sieburg and Elizabeth Samuelson, did not do anything wrong.

Upstate has requested retractions of two other papers by Feuer published in other journals.

University of Queensland asks for a paper to be retracted and returns a grant!

September 3, 2013

An unusual event in the academic world. Commendable and exemplary – I think.

The University of Queensland (not to be confused with the Queensland University of Technology – QUT – which has also recently been in the news) has taken the unusual step of asking a major journal to retract a paper published by a former staff member and has returned a grant from an NGO thought to have been awarded on the basis of the discredited paper.

The University Press Release ;

The University of Queensland (UQ) is investigating events that have led to the retraction of a paper published in an academic journal. 

As a result of its investigation to date, UQ has asked the journal that published the paper to retract it on the grounds that: “no primary data can be located, and no evidence has been found that the study described in the article was conducted.” 

A former UQ staff member from the Centre for Neurogenic Communication Disorders Research was corresponding author on the paper. 

Published online in October 2011 in the European Journal of Neurology, the paper was titledTreatment of articulatory dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

The journal has agreed to the retraction. 

The paper in question seems to be this one:

B. E. Murdoch(1), M. L. Ng(2) and C. H. S. Barwood(1), Treatment of articulatory dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation,  European Journal of Neurology, 19: 340–347. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2011.03524.x

The paper has been cited 8 times.

Author Information

  1. Centre for Neurogenic Communication Disorders Research, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld, Australia
  2. Speech Science Laboratory, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

*B. E. Murdoch, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia

ABC News reports:

The University of Queensland says a Parkinson’s disease study published by a former staff member may not have actually been carried out.

The university released a statement today saying that “no primary data can be located, and no evidence has been found that the study described in the article was conducted.”

UQ has asked the academic journal that published the research to retract the article, and the journal has agreed. The university said Professor Bruce Murdoch, a former staff member from the university’s Centre for Neurogenic Communication Disorders Research, was one of the authors of the article.

… The investigation is continuing and the Crime and Misconduct Commission has been informed, the statement said.

UQ has also returned a $20,000 grant from “a non-government organisation” because it fears the money was allocated on the basis of information in the article.

It said there was no National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding for the paper.

“By having the paper retracted, the university enables the global scientific community to learn that the research reported in the paper has no place in the body of scientific knowledge and so cannot be used as a basis for further research,” the statement said.

Mathematical turbulence at Ege University, Turkey

August 28, 2013

Back in June I had reported on the strange case at Ege University

Retraction Watch reports on the retraction of a paper by a Turkish mathematician for plagiarism. The author did not agree with the retraction.

But what struck me was the track record of this amazing Assistant Professor at Ege University.

Ahmet Yildirim Assistant Professor, Ege University, Turkey

Editorial Board Member of International Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

  • 2009       Ph.D      Applied Mathematics, Ege University (Turkey)
  • 2005       M.Sc      Applied Mathematics, Ege University (Turkey)
  • 2002       B.Sc        Mathematics, Ege University (Turkey)

Since 2007 he has a list of 279 publications!

That’s an impressive rate of about 50 publications per year. Prolific would be an understatement.

But the link to his 279 publications is now broken which now only goes to a blank page.

Upon a little further investigation it became clear that not only does he no longer work at Ege University but that his PhD has also apparently been revoked.

Paul Wouters writes:

In mathematics and computer science, Ege university has produced 210 publications (Stanford wrote almost ten times as much). Because this is a relatively small number of publications, the reliability of the ranking position is fairly low, which is indicated by a broad stability interval (an indication of the uncertainty in the measurement). Of the 210 Ege University publications, no less than 65 have been created by one person, a certain Ahmet Yildirim. This is an extremely high productivity in only 4 years in this specialty. Moreover, the Yildirim publications are indeed responsible for the high ranking of Ege University: without them, Ege University would rank around position 300 in this field. This position is therefore probably a much better reflection of its performance in this field. Yildirim’s publications have attracted 421 citations, excluding the self-citations. Mathematics is not a very citation dense field, so this level of citations is able to strongly influence both the PP(top10%) and the MNCS indicators.

An investigation into Yildirim’s publications has not yet started, as far as we know. But suspicions of fraud and plagiarism are rising, both in Turkey and abroad. One of his publications, in the journal Mathematical Physics, has recently been retracted by the journal because of evident plagiarism (pieces of an article by a Chinese author were copied and presented as original). Interestingly, the author has not agreed with this retraction. A fair number of Yildirim’s publications have been published in journals with a less than excellent track record in quality control.  ….. 

How did Yildirim’s publications attract so many citations? His 65 publications are cited by 285 publications, giving in total 421 citations. This group of publications has a strong internal citation traffic. They have attracted almost 1200 citations, of which a bit more than half is generated within this group. In other words: this set of publications seems to represent a closely knit group of authors, but they are not completely isolated from other authors. If we look at the universities citing Ege University, none of them have a high rank in the Leiden Ranking with the exception of Penn State University (which ranks at 112) that has cited Yildirim once. If we zoom in on mathematics and computer science, virtually all of the citing universities do not rank highly either, with the exception of Penn State (1 publication) and Gazi University (also 1 publication). The rank position of the last university, by the way, is not so reliable either, as indicated by the stability interval that is almost as wide as in the case of Ege University.

And a commenter at Poul Waters site adds:

kuantumcartcurt Says:
July 4, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Thanks for this detailed post. It seems that Ahmet Yıldırım’s PhD was recently revoked since it was a direct translation of a book of Ji-Huan He who is also quite a questionable figure in academia ( It also seems that he was dismissed from the university (again without any official statement).

Here is Ahmet Yıldırım’s PhD ‘thesis’:
And this is Ji-Huan He’s book:

It would seem that Ege University is carrying out some house cleaning but neither the University nor the International Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical Physics is saying anything.

VitroGro, Tissue Therapies and QUT’s “inadvertent” data falsification?

August 4, 2013

The mysterious goings-on at the  whistle-blower fracas at the Queensland University of Technology seem to run quite deep. The mystery is apparently compounded by commercial interests. The elements include a company spun-off from QUT (Tissue Therapies), University staff owning stock in the company, the company raising start-up money, listed on the stock exchange and having a value entirely dependent upon the prospects for one breakthrough product (VitroGro).

The latest revelation suggests that the whistle- blowers, Luke Cormack and another – whose identity is protected but was “inadvertently” revealed by the University Vice Chancellor –  have been spied upon. Cormack was given “counselling” organised by the University – which counselling was never confidential. The contents of these discussions were apparently reported by the counselor to the University authorities!! Seems to be a remarkable absence of ethical standards at the University and – more particularly – with the counselor. Perhaps it was all “inadvertent”.

A summary of the story is here in the Courier-Mail.

His colleagues had discovered a cheaper and more reliable way to grow human tissue, with huge implications for biology and medicine. Cormack’s research concerning stem cells aimed to build on their findings.

But no matter what he tried, his cells refused to grow. He later failed his PhD.

The key question is whether VitroGro has real prospects or is just hype. It is supposed to be used in healing wounds by helping cells to grow. If VitroGro’s potential benefits have knowingly been hyped by the “inadvertently” manipulated data, then there is a risk that this is all a start-up scam.

Business start-up scams depend upon inflating the apparent value of a start-up company by promoting perceptions of a bright future such that investment money can be attracted.


Response from VC Kalasalingam Unversity

February 2, 2011

Following the case of plagiarism that was brought to light by the retraction of a paper in the journal Biotechnology Advances, the Vice Chancellor has responded by email:

Dear Sir,
Thanks for your mail.
As soon as we came to know about the plagiarism complaint against the reesearchers from our division of Molecular and cellular biology, we have formed a committe of senior faculty members of our university  to probe the same.

We have also taken action as per the committee’s report. The committee’s report and the action taken details were informed to the DST and other funding agencies in India.
We have also advised our university’s research community to take proper care to strictly avoid occurring of such complaints in future
Vice-Chancellor Kalasalingam University

Update 4th February:

The VC’s response is a little disappointing in that he has advised the university’s research community only to avoid future complaints and not to avoid the misconduct itself. He surely can not mean that the actions are acceptable if complaints are  avoided.

So far there has been no response to a request to provide a copy of the “committees report”. It is still not known as to who served on this committee and what their conclusions and recommendations were. What sanctions are to be applied to those found responsible for misconduct is also unknown.

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