Springer Nature Journal Takes 8 Months to Retract Paper After US Government Misconduct Finding

Retraction Watch Staff

September 16, 2020

A Springer Nature journal waited eight months to retract a paper flagged by the Office of Research Integrity for containing fabricated data — a delay the publisher blames on "staff changes and human error."

The 2014 article in Neuropsychopharmacology by Alexander Neumeister included "falsified and/or fabricated research methods and results," according to the findings of the ORI investigation, which were reported in late December of last year. But the retraction notice is dated September 8, 2020.

The notice itself sounds a lot like a child who says "I'm invisible because my eyes are closed." It reads:

The editors have retracted this article [1]. An investigation conducted by the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI) [2] concluded this article includes "falsified and/or fabricated research methods and results."

The authors A Neumeister, H Huang, M Zheng, R E Carson, M N Potenza, R H Pietrzak, and D Piomelli have chosen not to comment on this retraction. The authors S Corsi-Travali, S-F Lin, and S Henry have not responded to correspondence about this retraction.

According to ORI, Neumeister — a thief in addition to a con man — also fabricated data in three other papers. Their status? JAMA Psychiatry, which published two of Neumeister's tainted papers, retracted them in February. The other article, which appeared in Psychoneuroendocrinology, was retracted in July.

We asked Springer Nature to explain the delay, and were told by a spokesperson:

In addition to the time taken to contact and receive responses from all the authors, unfortunately due to staff changes and human error, there was a delay in processing the retraction. Feedback has been given to all internal parties to ensure that lessons are learnt.

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