Schneider Shorts of 26 August 2022 – why an entire special issue got retracted, why Science editor won’t retract papers for fraud alone, with other amazing heroes of research integrity, a Swedish rector’s vanity, lab-grown meat and fish, Frontiers being silly again, and finally, a GoFundMe for a certain whiskey lover.
Table of Discontent
- Fraudulent Entity – a journal retracts entire special issue
- Holden in contempt – chief editor explains why Science won’t retract fraud
- Give it to Sabatini – fellow research cheaters donate to mTOR man
- Oopsala – a Swedish rector got too greedy for authorships
- Lab-grown meat – Californian scientist offers gelatin scaffolds
- Lab-grown fish – German startup has fish-flavoured balls
- Frontiers in Ovulation – scientists explain the purpose of female creativity
- Frontiers in Chinese Music – scientists find the cure to hypertension
A Wiley journal retracts an entire special issue with this notice (hat-tip Smut Clyde):
“We, the Editors and Publisher of the journal IET Image Processing, have retracted the articles below, which make up the Special Section on Evolutionary Computation for Image Processing.
Following publication, it has come to our attention that the people named as the Guest Editors of this Special Section were being impersonated by a fraudulent entity and the articles were not reviewed in line with the journal’s peer review standards, and therefore, the decision has been taken to retract the articles.
We did not find any evidence of misconduct by the authors. The authors have been informed of the decision to retract.”
A list of retracted papers was provided:
- Jinxing Niu, Yajie Jiang, Yayun Fu (2020) Research on image sharpening algorithm in weak illumination environment https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2019.1588
- Yongcun Cao, Saisai Ji, Yong Lu (2020) Improved artificial bee colony algorithm with opposition-based learning https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2020.0111
- Qingshan Hou, Jinsheng Xing (2020) KSSD: single-stage multi-object detection algorithm with higher accuracy https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2020.0077
- Ying Sun, Yaoqing Weng, Bowen Luo, Gongfa Li, Bo Tao, Du Jiang, Disi Chen (2020) Gesture recognition algorithm based on multi-scale feature fusion in RGB-D images https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2020.0148
- A. Kavipriya, A. Muthukumar (2021) Innovative approach for multimodal fusion recognition based feature extraction using band-limited phase-only correlation and discrete orthonormal Stockwell transform https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2020.0145
- Jingjing Yang, Jinzhao Wu, Xiaojing Wang (2020) Convolutional neural network based on differential privacy in exponential attenuation mode for image classification https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2020.0078
- Yuan Cui, Yang Yu, Zhuyang Chen, Bo Xue (2020) Research on measurement and energy efficiency improvement of flat panel display based on industrial control https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2020.0081
- Li Huang, Meiling He, Chong Tan, Du Jiang, Gongfa Li, Hui Yu (2020) Jointly network image processing: multi-task image semantic segmentation of indoor scene based on CNN https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2020.0088
- Mingyue Qian, Zhaoting Zhang, Jiechun Chen (2020) Combined mixed Gaussian model with pattern recognition in the automatic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2019.1629
- Guest Editorial: Evolutionary Computation for Image Processing https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-ipr.2020.1284“
The last one, a retracted editorial, names the editors whose identities were allegedly stolen by a “fraudulent entity”: the German researchers Heiko Hamann, Mladen Bereković (both University of Lübeck) and Norbert Stoll of University of Rostock, plus Muhammad Irfan Ali of Islamabad Model College for Girls in Pakistan and Hassan Fouad Mohamed El-sayed of Helwan University in Egypt. I wrote to them.
Berekovic added that the fake domain “used to steal our identities was run on a hacked server that has been shut down in the meantime” and that he and his colleagues “were victims of cyber-criminals” and “forwarded this case to the police“. The publisher did their own investigation also. Hamann also stated:
That is interesting. Also because I received no reply from the other two listed editors, Irfan Ali and El-sayed. Total silence from these two gentlemen. One certainly sees the practical use of German names and affiliations in such a special issue scam, but one could wonder why the cybercriminals saw the need to steal the identities of two minor academics in Pakistan and Egypt.
Holden in contempt
Academic and scholarly publishing elites are trying to get back control over the research integrity debate and definition of research fraud.
“Long story short, we investigated our published papers and then retracted those with data integrity issues. That is it.” – Dr Heather Smith, Editor-in-Chief
Holden Thorp, the Editor-in-Chief of society-published elite journal Science, is determined to set the rules and to control the debate. The man, who spent the last 2 years denouncing the discussion of possible COVID-19 lab leak origins as anti-science conspiracy theories and establishing the truth that it was everyone else but Smut Clyde et al who uncovered the mass-productions of Chinese papermills, has now written an editorial on the topic of retractions.
“We could be more aggressive in retracting things without consulting as widely, but that could have a very big impact on scientists’ careers, and a mistake would be costly. We could try to get the universities to respond more quickly and more transparently. As a former provost myself, I received many such inquiries over the years. Now that I’ve experienced both sides of this interaction, I’ve been thinking about how the process could be improved.”
And here is Thorp’s plan:
“Science just wants to know if the paper should be retracted or not. […]
The solution would be for the universities, federal government, funding agencies, and journals to come together and agree that these investigations should be a two-stage process. The first stage should evaluate the validity of the paper without attributing blame. The university would then feel free to determine the validity of the paper before it plunges into a lengthy and more complicated investigation of the underlying wrongdoing. If the paper is not valid, it can then be retracted much more quickly. The second stage, with journals out of the picture, would be for the university to determine whether there was fraud that rises to the level of research misconduct. This plan would accelerate correction of the scientific record.”
He then talks about having discussed this with Elisabeth Bik. But Bik years ago tweeted a whole long list of fraudulent Science papers (see article below) which Throp did nothing about, except of one single case, that of Ronald Plasterk whose former academic employer opened an investigation upon our notification and requested a retraction.
Scholarly publishing is broken, and no repair is possible. At least let’s point fingers at the elites and laugh. Can science trust Science?
This means that in all other cases, including that of the Stanford University’s President Marc Tessier-Lavigne (read the relevant sections in the articles above and below), Thorp decreed based on institutional
whitewashing investigations that no scientific conclusions were ever affected by Photoshop forgeries, the studies remain 100% valid and there was no need for any editorial action.
From Lesné’s public shame to successful role models of neuroscience like Aguzzi and Tessier-Lavigne.
On Twitter, Thorp made clear that he is keenly collaborating with Ivan Oransky & Adam Marcus of Retraction Watch. The rest are presumably science terrorists and will be treated accordingly. Thank God we have Thorp and the Watchdogs of Retraction Watch deciding for the whole scientific community which fake science is actually valid and which evidence is admissible against which bigwig.
Give it to Sabatini!
An unusual GoFundMe campaign has started.
As reminder: the former star scientist, the so-called mTORman David Sabatini has been sacked by Whitehead Institute and MIT over charges of sexual harassment, for which Sabatini now sues his former employer and his victim, for her whistleblowing. Prior to that, I reported problems with Sabatini’s research. Even though he was not charged with research misconduct before sacking, his mTOR research is apparently not trustworthy.
David Sabatini is an absolute star scientist, and now he is being harassed. On PubPeer and Twitter. It is all very unfair.
“The Plaintiff is Professor Sabatini […] the self-described powerful senior scientist, who had demanded sex of her when she was a graduate student ending her studies and about to start a fellowship at the Whitehead, in a program Sabatini would direct. […] And it is the man who had made it clear – throughout her training and employment with the Whitehead – that he would ruin anyone who dared to speak against him.”
The new campaign is organised by Sabatini’s lab alumni Shomit Sengupta und Douglas Wheeler and seeks to raise money for the poor suffering hero, who used to literally make millions in his lost job at MIT, as salary and via biotech industry engagements. We are told that David is “struggling not only emotionally but financially”, which probably means he needs money for his beloved whiskey.
$3600 have already been raised, which will buy some seriously fancy booze. Most donations are anonymous, but two are not, by Celeste Simon (professor at University of Pennsylvania, USA) and Mark Febbraio (professor at Monash University in Australia).
Here is how Dr Simon does research:
Liping Liu , Timothy P. Cash , Russell G. Jones , Brian Keith , Craig B. Thompson , M. Celeste Simon Hypoxia-induced energy stress regulates mRNA translation and cell growth Molecular Cell (2006) doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2006.01.010
And this, Dr Simon is aware of the problem for 7 years already:
Liping Liu , David R. Wise , J. Alan Diehl , M. Celeste Simon Hypoxic reactive oxygen species regulate the integrated stress response and cell survival Journal of Biological Chemistry (2008) doi: 10.1074/jbc.m805056200
And here is something by Febbraio, also rotting on PubPeer for many years:
Matthew J. Watt, Anna G. Holmes , Srijan K. Pinnamaneni , Andrew P. Garnham , Gregory R. Steinberg , Bruce E. Kemp , Mark A. Febbraio Regulation of HSL serine phosphorylation in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism (2006) doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00361.2005
This was fixed in 2019 with a well-hidden Corrirgendum where Febbraio et al declared:
Febbraio’s mentee Matthew Watt is now professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Matthew J Watt , Nicolas Dzamko , Walter G Thomas , Stefan Rose-John , Matthias Ernst , David Carling , Bruce E Kemp , Mark A Febbraio , Gregory R Steinberg CNTF reverses obesity-induced insulin resistance by activating skeletal muscle AMPK Nature medicine (2006) doi: 10.1038/nm1383
Nobody bothered to even correct that one.
Rule of a thumb: if you want to meet many research cheaters, just follow one of them around. Sabatini is obviously a very good start.
David Sabatini, remember that story? Well, it seems the conclusions were not affected. I take an ill-informed look at the mTOR signalling research field, to understand how photoshopped data gets to be independently verified by other labs.
Look at this paper, in an Elsevier journal with impact factor of 16.8:
Asim Arshad , Sining Yun , Jing Shi , Menglong Sun , Nosheen Zafar , Anders Hagfeldt N-coordinated bimetallic defect-rich nanocarbons as highly efficient electrocatalysts in advanced energy conversion applications Chemical Engineering Journal (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.cej.2022.134913
The authors of this likely very fraudulent study are located in China. Except of the last author who stands out like a sore thumb: the Swede Anders Hagfeldt, with an h-index of 160 and a listed affiliation of EPFL Lausanne in Switzerland. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, Swiss universities don’t really care about their professors’ shenanigans. The problem is that since 2021 Hagfeldt is the Rector (Vice Chancellor) of the Uppsala University in Sweden, where he proudly declares to have “published more than 560 scientific papers that have received over 94,000 citations“. Now we know how he got to such numbers.
In Sweden they do care about such things nowadays. Professor Hagfeldt can talk to his materials science colleague at Linköping University, Magnus Willander, who was also driven by the greed of gift authorships and got slapped with findings of research misconduct.
“The Board assesses that there are no scientifically acceptable explanations for why the notified researchers have fabricated research results in the manner that has occurred in the notified articles. Raw data also does not support the reported results. [..]
In summary, the Board finds therefore that the notified researchers have been guilty of misconduct in research.”
Karin Dahlman-Wright, Karolinska Institute’s former president, then vice-president, now rector’s counsellor was found guilty of research misconduct, again. This time in 4 papers.
And then a Swedish court overturned everything and declared her innocent.
Professor Hagfeldt might even have to stop being a rector, look at the sad fate of Karolinska Institutet’s former rector Karin Dahlman-Wright.
Anyhow, I did what I always do and informed the university.
As food industry gets from one success to another with vegan plant-based burgers and sausages, which fool even meat-eaters while using boring old food chemistry technology, certain enterprising biomedical researchers keep hyping their lab-grown meat start-ups, whose products are eternally promised to be on your plate next year, yet never available even for sampling. Probably because despite all the promo photos, these lab-grown steaks remain inedible while extremely expensive to make.
Enterprising Israeli Scientists show how these things are connected.
So here a Californian scientist figured out how to deal with sceptical investors. A microcarrier technology to provide meaty structure! A press release by UCLA explains:
“Led by Amy Rowat, who holds UCLA’s Marcie H. Rothman Presidential Chair of Food Studies, the researchers have invented edible particles called microcarriers with customized structures and textures that help precursor muscle cells grow quickly and form muscle-like tissues. […] “Animal cells that can be coaxed to form tissues similar to meats could offer a protein source to a world facing food insecurity caused by threats ranging from epidemics to natural disasters,” said Rowat…”
Basically, the world will starve without Dr Rowat’s lab grown steaks, simple as that.
This is the paper, published in Biomaterials, an Elsevier journal popular with regenerative medicine quacks.
Sam C.P. Norris , N. Stephanie Kawecki , Ashton R. Davis , Kathleen K. Chen , Amy C. Rowat Emulsion-templated microparticles with tunable stiffness and topology: Applications as edible microcarriers for cultured meat Biomaterials (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2022.121669
The press release inadvertently reveals that the lab grown meat industry struggles with a product which nobody, not even a dog would ever eat:
“Current methods can produce a cultured steak that mimics the structure of T-bone, but not at the volume needed for food production. […] This process, necessary to produce whole tissues resembling steaks or chops, is labor intensive and takes weeks, making it hard to scale up for industrial production. […] Growing larger volumes of cultured meat at a faster pace involves making a paste or slurry of cells in a container called a bioreactor. Unfortunately, without a stiff substrate, meat grown this way lacks the muscle-like structure and therefore, texture and consistency, of what people are used to eating.”
A company in Germany tries to solve the same problem of inedibility of lab grown meat with a different approach. A story by Tech Crunch:
“Bluu Seafood, a German company developing “lab-grown” fish, is showcasing its first finished products as it prepares to begin the regulatory approval process for key markets in Asia, Europe and North America.
Founded in 2020 (originally as Bluu Biosciences), Bluu Seafood is one of several companies working to solve the world’s seafood production problems, which includes overfishing, contamination from heavy metals and plastic, and cruelty. To do this, the Berlin-based company starts with a single “one-time” fish biopsy (the fish doesn’t have to be killed for this), and then uses stem cell technology to develop full cell lines (fish species) in a lab setting. [….]
“That is the amazing thing about ‘immortalized’ cells — while ‘normal’ cells double for, let’s say, 20 times and then stop, the immortalized cells keep on doubling — theoretically forever,” Bluu co-founder Simon Fabich told TechCrunch.
Those immortalised (i.e., transformed) animal “muscle” cells are very different from terminally differentiated muscle cells inside an animal, actually they are a kind of cancer. Whatever patty you obtained from those immortalised cells, it will taste disgusting and remain too expensive to market. How to solve the problem?
“Today, Bluu unveiled its first two products — fish sticks (or “fish fingers,” as they’re known in some markets) and fish balls, which are made from cultivated fish cells and “enriched” with plant proteins, a process designed to optimize how they cook and how they feel in the mouth.”
I’d say it’s the boring old vegan plant-based fish finger homeopathically flavoured with some cultured fish cells to justify ten-fold higher price. Genius.
Frontiers in Ovulation
A reader found one of the bestest Frontiers papers in recent years. Behold.
Polish scientists discover how women signal their fertility to men: by activating intellectual creativity networks in their otherwise dull female brains during ovulation.
Katarzyna Galasinska , Aleksandra Szymkow Enhanced Originality of Ideas in Women During Ovulation: A Within-Subject Design Study Frontiers in Psychology (2022) doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.859108
Psy Post explains how great the discovery was:
“Women tend to generate more novel ideas during ovulation compared to non-fertile phases of their ovulatory cycle […]
“I am generally interested in evolutionary psychology, as it can explain the functionality of many of our traits,” said study author Katarzyna Galasinska, PhD candidate at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw. “As humans, we had to develop qualities helping us to deal with survival and reproduction. It applies to both physical and psychological traits. We can easily infer that traits pointing to health and strength correspond to survival, but beauty is not required for survival. Instead, it can really upgrade our reproductive value, and due to that, all aspects associated with our mate value.”
“Creativity seems to be an ontologically old trait. It is defined as a capacity to make something new and useful, so it probably helped our ancestors to deal with survival. However, it is only the lower half of creativity that is associated with problem-solving and intellectual qualities. All the rest of creativity has strong connectivity with beauty. And that means, it could be linked to reproduction, helping to attract mates.””
And so on. Here is how the study was done:
“In her previous work, Galasinska found that the originality of women’s ideas increased as the probability of conception increased during the ovulation cycle. However, in that study, the participants reported the first day of their last period and the researchers used that information to estimate the current cycle phase.[…]
The participants completed validated measures of creativity during the follicular, ovulatory, and late luteal phases of their menstrual cycle. One creativity assessment was the Alternative Uses Test, in which the women were asked to list as many alternative uses as possible for an everyday object. […]
In line with the previous study, the researchers found that ideas generated during the Alternative Uses Test tended to be the most original during the ovulatory phase. The results provide additional evidence that “women’s fertility may be associated with mental abilities such as creativity,” Galasinska told PsyPost.”
I shall not make any jokes here, but I can’t prevent you. This is how important this Frontiers paper is:
“On a broader level, the findings also indicate that “creativity may be associated with mating, helping women to attract potential mates,” Galasinska said. “Other studies showed that both sexes value creativity in a potential partner and I showed that it can be a sort of a tactic. Specifically, being original may be functional in this context.””
A certain kind of evolutionary psychologists are happy:
This masterpiece is part of a special issue titled “A 150 Years’ Celebration of Darwin’s Book on Human Evolution and Sexual Selection: Its Legacy and Future Prospects“, which in turn contains gems like:
- Lia Queiroz do Amaral, “Safe Carrying of Heavy Infants Together With Hair Properties Explain Human Evolution” doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.854948
- Marin and Rathgeber, “Darwin’s Sexual Selection Hypothesis Revisited: Musicality Increases Sexual Attraction in Both Sexes” doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.971988/
- A racist paper from russia, Mezentseva et al, “SEX DIFFERENCES IN EMOTIONAL PERCEPTION: EVIDENCE FROM POPULATION OF TUVANS (SOUTHERN SIBERIA)” doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.924486
Frontiers in Chinese Music
Here another groundbreaking Frontiers paper, spotted by another reader. Did you know that Chinese classical music, but not any other music, can cure hypertension?
Jingyuan Li , Zhi Yang , Chunmei Zhang , Yang Hu , Hongxuan Li , Meng Zhang , Peili Bu , Shuangxi Wang , Cheng Zhang , Wenjing Li Chinese Classical Music Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Left Ventricular Hypertrophy in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats Frontiers in Pharmacology (2022) doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.826669
From the abstract:
“High blood pressure (BP) plays an important role in the pathogenesis and development of cardiovascular diseases and multi-organ damages. Music has been well known to elicit emotional changes, such as anxiolytic effects. However, whether music therapy lowers BP in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and the potential mechanism remains unknown. SHRs were, respectively exposed to white noise (WN), Western classical music (WM), Chinese classical music (CCM), rock music (RM), and bisoprolol treatment. WN and WM did not lower systemic BP, but CCM and RM significantly lowered BPs in SHRs. The effects of CCM therapy on lowering systemic BPs is comparable to that of bisoprolol at the dose of low to medium.”
But the scholars knew that every biomedical paper needs to prove the exact molecular mechanism to piss through pee review:
“Furthermore, IHC and WB analysis indicated that CCM therapy inhibited the β1/cAMP/PKA and α1/PLC/PKC signalings, but didn’t alter the β2/PI3K/Akt signaling. Above all, CCM therapy lowers systemic BPs and alleviates myocardial hypertrophy in hypertensive rats, which may be caused by the inhibitions of β1/cAMP/PKA and α1/PLC/PKC signalings.”
Science is amazing. By the way, I was informed that the last and corresponding Wenjing Li studied music and has no biomedical background. But this is compensated by the fact that her penultimate co-author (and husband!) Cheng Zhang is the chief of the cardiology in the Shandong hospital, who inherited this position from his father, a member of Chinese Academy of Medicine. So much concentrated competence!
I suggest Frontiers puts non-stop Chinese classical music on loudspeaker in their open-plan offices in Lausanne, as part of their corporate health program.
News in Tweets
- But do you know who this amazingly honest and upstanding editor Rafael Luque is? A one man papermill with a gigantic citation and authorship ring, who keeps Alexander Magazinov day and night busy with all the fraudulent materials science trash he keeps publishing. PubPeer record at almost 100 papers now, here a random yet representative recent example.
- John Ioannidis is apparently done with peddling covidiocies and is back to being the hero of research integrity. Look, another paper to boost his colossal h-index. Yet can our beloved most cited scientist on the planet explain why many of his citations come from Chinese papermills?
“Is it possible that through no fault of Zintzaras & Ioannidis, their work was incorporated into a papermill template, accruing hundreds of spurious citations?” – Smut Clyde
- Wired brings a promo piece for Shai Efrati’s quack cure for long covid, which is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). Unsurprisingly, the miraculously cured patient in the story is a homeopath by profession.
Telomere dysfunction is a common problem in older men. Dr Shai Efrati can help: Book your appointment for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy now!
- “No data were used to support this study“- at least the research fraudsters and papermillers are being honest when buying services from Hindawi (now part of Wiley). But, hey, it all passed peer review by fellow fraudsters running those special issues.
- Hands up who is surprised that Michael Aschner is not just a covidiot antivaxxer, but also runs some authorship scams with Chinese fraudsters to boost his publication record?
- Cheshire finds even more fraud in an already excessively fraudulent paper by Temple University professor Domenico Pratico.
- How unacknowledged data integrity sleuths do their work, a thread by Cheshire.
- If you rather would not donate for Sabatini’s whiskey: Smut Clyde set up a Patreon account to buy beer and akvavit. You are invited to donate there.
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