A chemistry professor at Northeastern University in Boston, MA who has almost 70 papers flagged on PubPeer resigned yesterday, May 4, 2021.
On his blog For Better Science (Update May 5, at the bottom), Leonid Schneider shared an email from the Chair of the Department of Engineering, which states that Thomas J Webster has resigned from the university.
Webster has 69 papers flagged on PubPeer, mostly for concerns about image irregularities. I reported 59 to the journals and institution in March 2020.
Browsing further back into the journal’s archive I found an interesting supplemental issue from 2016 that consists of 20 papers on psoriasis – all written by the same group of prolific authors.
The papers are not without problems. Lack of IRB approval, lack of patient consent to have their photos published, unclear patient recruitment and trial locations, inclusion of children in experimental drug testing, and to top it off, incorrect statements about conflict of interest. All papers heavily promote the same product line of herbal ointments and gels – and the founder of the company is one of the authors!
Yesterday, it published an obviously fake study that claimed that hydroxychloroquine could prevent push-scooter accidents – but only in Marseille. The paper has a lot of references to French scientists and politicians, and one of the authors is a famous French dog.
The paper got retracted today, but not before many had a good laugh at it on Twitter.
The Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents (JBRHA) is a puzzling scientific journal. It published the now-withdrawn bizarre paper on 5G and Coronavirus that caused a lot of commotion (“brouhaha“, meaning commotion or uproar). It is indexed in PubMed, giving it the appearance of a true, National Library of Medicine-approved scientific journal. But the editorial board consists mainly of dead people, the Editor in Chief’s affiliations are unclear, and the content of the journal is mainly empty. We might as well call it the JBRouHAha.
A group of authors has found a way to crank up the number of papers on their resumes. The complete “Global Dermatology” September 30, 2019 issue of the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences is filled with papers from the same group of authors, headed by Torello Lotti and Massimo Fioranelli, both from the University of G. Marconi in Rome, Italy.
Some of these papers contain photos of patients without consent, others contain duplicated images, and some papers are full of extraordinary claims without any evidence. Just a bunch of pretty diagrams.
The paper suggests that 5G waves (the latest cell phone technology) can spontaneously generate Coronaviruses in skin cells. Yet, there is nothing in this article that proves this extraordinary claim. It is absolute nonsense.
Combining two hot topics into one title, this article is surely asking for some attention. Attention it will get. Because it is one of the worst scientific papers I have seen this year.
Unfortunately, several angry Twitter users pointed out it was insensitive of me and irrelevant to mention the country where the Human Photosynthesis Study Center scientists are located. I am confused about this, but I do not want to be insensitive. It appears it is OK to mention most countries but not certain others. I will just try to continue to be an equal-opportunity science integrity detective.
Yesterday, Twitter user @Arroboso pointed out research on “Human Photosynthesis” through this tweet.
Of course I was curious. Last time I checked, humans are not capable of photosynthesis. Instead, I learned that humans are heterotrophs, organisms that rely on eating other organism to get their energy from.
Note: this post is not an allegation of misconduct. I do not have any strong feelings about low- or high-carb diets.
This post tells the tale of three papers. Paper #1 was retracted, republished as paper #2, and republished a second time as paper #3. Let’s take a look at what happened. Based on an original Twitter thread on Twitter and on ThreadReaderApp.