Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Catalyst for change: grad student catches error in chem experiments, prompts retraction

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acscatalysisACS Catalysis has retracted a 2015 research letter from a chemistry lab that discovered an error in their experiments.

According to last author Rory Waterman at the University of Vermont, an undetected reaction caused his lab to mistakenly mischaracterize the products of an iridium catalyst. The diligence of a graduate student brought it all to light, he noted: “In short, it was the ability of one of my group members to be a very good scientist.”

The letter, titled “High Activity and Selectivity for Silane Dehydrocoupling by an Iridium Catalyst,” was published in February. It has only accumulated 5 citations, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

According to the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

March 3rd, 2015 at 11:30 am

Heart journal issues expression of concern after fraud report

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circulationThe American Heart Association’s journal Circulation has issued an expression of concern for a paper about the molecular underpinnings of arrhythmias that was co-authored by a biomedical engineer who committed fraud on a massive scale.

According to an investigation by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), former Vanderbilt engineer Igor Dzhura faked nearly 70 images and drastically over-estimated the number of experiments he conducted. He was banned from receiving federal funding for three years.

The fraud has resulted in six retracted papers, which have been cited more than 500 times.

Read the rest of this entry »

SfN journal retracts paper, bans UPenn researchers over “data misrepresentation”

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journal of neuroscienceThe Journal of Neuroscience has yanked an Alzheimer’s paper and banned three University of Pennsylvania authors from publishing there temporarily, following conflicting investigations by the university and the publisher, the Society for Neuroscience, into the data.

The 2011 paper looked into the cellular makeup of the characteristic plaques that develop in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s been cited 64 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

While the notice states that Penn’s investigation “supports the journal’s findings of data misrepresentation,” last author Virginia Lee said she asked the journal to simply issue a correction of the faulty data, since the findings are “extremely important” for the field and have been affirmed by a later paper. According to author John Trojanowski (who is married to and publishes regularly with Lee), he and Lee have been barred from publishing in Journal for Neuroscience for several years. Senior Co-author Edward Lee is out for a year [see update at the bottom of this post].

Lee provided us with a letter Vice Dean of Research Glen Gaulton sent to the journal (click here to read), in which he says an investigation found “no evidence of research misconduct” and the “errors…do not detract from or otherwise alter the conclusions of the manuscript.”

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Ob-gyn prof up to 7 retractions, latest due to “substantial data misrepresentation”

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University of Florida

University of Florida

Two more retractions have popped up for Nasser Chegini, the former University of Florida professor currently under investigation by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Both retractions appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, though — in opposition to guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) — they’re behind a paywall. The notices indicate that an investigation report from the University of Florida “found substantial data misrepresentation” in two JCEM articles about Smads, signaling molecules that carry messages from TGF-beta receptors to the nucleus.

Here’s the notice for “The Expression of Smads in Human Endometrium and Regulation and Induction in Endometrial Epithelial and Stromal Cells by Transforming Growth Factor-Beta” (cited 28 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge):

Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: P values banned, climate skeptic fails to disclose corporate funding, editors behaving badly

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booksThis week at Retraction Watch featured a change of heart by a journal, and a look at Nature’s addition of double-blind peer review. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

February 28th, 2015 at 9:34 am

Posted in weekend reads

PubPeer Selections: Odd citations, “practice makes perfect,” a Nature update

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Written by Ivan Oransky

February 27th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Prominent geneticist David Latchman’s group notches second retraction

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j cell scienceA team of researchers whose work is under investigation by University College London has retracted a second paper.

Three of the 11 authors of the 2005 Journal of Cell Science paper being retracted — David Latchman, Richard Knight, and Anastasis Stephanou — were authors of a Journal of Biological Chemistry paper retracted in January. Stephanou takes the blame for the “errors” which felled the Journal of Cell Science paper, about how a tumor suppressor responds to DNA damage.

Here’s the notice for “STAT-1 facilitates the ATM activated checkpoint pathway following DNA damage:” Read the rest of this entry »

Neuro journal pulls comatose brain abstract due to “several mistakes”

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clinical neurophysiologySwiss researchers have retracted an abstract in Clinical Neurophysiology because only one of them actually knew about the paper — and what he submitted had “several mistakes.”

The abstract, about electric impulses in the brain of comatose patients, originally appeared as a poster at the June 2014 joint meeting of multiple Swiss neuroscience societies. It was submitted by first author Alexandre Simonin, who lists his affiliation as the University Hospital of Lausanne, a Swiss hospital.

The meeting proceedings ran in the October issue of Clinical Neurophysiology. Besides the issues of authorship and errors, the notice also says the abstract “potentially conflicts with another publication,” suggesting the data might have already appeared in a paper.

Here’s the notice for “P02. Predicting the outcome of post-anoxic comatose patients based on single-trial EEG analysis”: Read the rest of this entry »

Are retractions more frequent in stem cell research?

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sci eng ethicsThere are a number of fields that seem to punch above their weight on Retraction Watch: Anesthesiology, home to the world record holder (and runner-up), and psychology, home to Diederik Stapel and others. But the red-hot field of stem cell research is another that makes frequent appearances, last year’s STAP controversy being particularly prominent.

There’s an interesting (but unfortunately paywalled) recent paper in Science and Engineering Ethics, “The Acid Test for Biological Science: STAP Cells, Trust, and Replication,” by Cheryl Lancaster, a small part of which tries to answer that question.

Lancaster applies the same methods Fang, Steen, and Casadevall used to broadly measure the causes of retractions in all life science and biomedicine to the specific field of stem cell research: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

February 26th, 2015 at 9:30 am

David Vaux: Nature’s decision to add double-blind peer review is good, but could be better

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David Vaux, a cell biologist at the Walter + Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, explains how Nature could do more to remove bias from the peer review process. He previously wrote about his decision to retract a paper.

vaux

David Vaux

Last week, Nature announced that they are to offer authors of papers submitted to Nature or the monthly Nature research journals the option of having their manuscripts assessed by double-blind peer review, in which reviewers are blinded to the identity of authors and their institutions. Until now, papers sent to Nature, and most other journals, have been reviewed by a single-blind process, in which the reviewers know the identities and affiliations of the authors, but the authors are not told who the reviewers are. The goal of double-blind peer review is for submitted papers to be judged on their scientific merit alone, and thus to reduce publication bias.

While Nature should be applauded for this move, the way they have implemented it leaves room for improvement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am