Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Stem cell researcher retracts neuron paper for “image aberrations”

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embo journalJens Christian Schwamborn, a stem cell researcher at the University of Luxembourg, is retracting a 2007 paper on how to grow brain cells.

The paper, “Ubiquitination of the GTPase Rap1B by the ubiquitin ligase Smurf2 is required for the establishment of neuronal polarity,” was published while Schwamborn was at Westfälische Wilhelms‐Universität Münster in Germany. An anonymous critic had sent questions about the study to Germany’s DFG in the middle of last year, and later to Paul Brookes, who posted them on PubMed Commons.

Those criticisms match the problems listed in the detailed notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 18th, 2014 at 9:30 am

Stem cell researchers sue Harvard, claiming faulty investigation lost them job offers

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anversa

Piero Anversa

Piero Anversa, a stem cell researcher at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and a colleague, Annarosa Leri, have sued Harvard over an investigation into their work that they claim has cost them millions in a forfeited sale of their company, and job offers.

The team has had a paper in Circulation retracted, and a paper in The Lancet subject to an expression of concern.

In the suit, first reported by the Boston Business Journal and the Boston Globe, Anversa and Leri blame a co-author for the issues in the papers, and claim that their Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 17th, 2014 at 6:53 pm

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Stem cell researcher Hanna “working…to correct the unfortunate and inadvertent mistakes” in papers

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jacob

Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna of Israel’s Weizmann Institute has been a media darling for years, including as a member of the 2010 Technology Review 30 under 35 for his work with stem cells.

However, questions have been mounting about his research, both on PubPeer (which has critical comments for 15 papers he’s an author on) and in other stem cell labs, who have not been able to reproduce much of Hanna’s work.

We asked Hanna about a PubPeer entry specific to a 2005 paper in BloodCommenters have accused the authors of figure manipulation and possible data republication. Here’s a figure from that post: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

December 17th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Mix-and-match text topples microbiome paper

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iemA group of gastroenterology researchers in Italy has lost their 2010 paper in Internal and Emergency Medicine, the journal of the Italian Society of Internal Medicine, for plagiarizing and duplicate publication.

The article, “Gut microbiota and related diseases: clinical features,” was published as a supplement by a team from the University of Bologna. Its conclusions: Read the rest of this entry »

Shingles-stroke connection paper earns expression of concern for “errors in data presentation”

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neurologyThe journal Neurology has issued an expression of concern for a paper linking shingles and stroke, which got press attention when it was published.

The journal’s note refers to “errors of data presentation,” which author Judith Breuer more narrowly defined as mistakes during transcription of a table. It’s unclear whether the results themselves – that herpes zoster, the virus that causes shingles, is a risk factor for stroke and other vascular problems – are being called into question.

Here’s the expression of concern for “Herpes zoster as a risk factor for stroke and TIA: A retrospective cohort study in the UK”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

December 17th, 2014 at 9:30 am

Former postdoc threatens Retraction Watch with lawsuit over vague defamation claims

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Varun Kesherwani

Varun Kesherwani

In April 2012, we wrote about a case of disputed authorship and misused data involving one Varun Kesherwani, a former postdoc at the University of Nebraska.

As we reported then, Kesherwani was first author of a paper in Cytokine. The second author, Ajit Sodhi, of Banaras Hindu University, claimed to have had no knowledge of the article and had not given Kesherwani permission to use the results. Thus, the retraction.

Since then, we have received numerous messages from Kesherwani objecting to our post — he claims it has hurt his employment prospects — and demanding that we take it down. At one point he even suggested in an email that we pay him to go away: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

December 16th, 2014 at 12:32 pm

What do studies of retractions tell us?

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jmbeThe Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education has published a special issue on scientific ethics, and it includes an invited piece from us.

In “What Studies of Retractions Tell Us,” we decided to do a literature review of the small but growing field of retraction studies. Five years ago, this would have been a very short paper, consisting of a handful of references, but we were able to find about 30 studies to include quite easily.

Here’s the abstract: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 16th, 2014 at 9:30 am

“You don’t retract a paper, you retract the results within:” Why one scientist still displays one of his mistakes

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lance fortnow

Lance Fortnow

And now, one from the archives.

In 1989, then MIT grad student Lance Fortnow (he’s now chair of the computer science department at Georgia Tech) wrote a mathematical proof and published it as conference proceedings. He later went to publish the proof in a journal.

But he then discovered “unexpected technical challenges” and published a retraction in 1997. Both are still available on his personal website.

Not everyone would be that transparent. We reached out to ask why he left them up for people to see. He gave us his rationale: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

December 15th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Retraction Watch is growing, thanks to a $400,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation

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macarthurDear Retraction Watch readers, we have some exciting news to share.

After more than four years, 2,000 posts, and incredible responses from the scientific community, we are thrilled to announce that The Center For Scientific Integrity, a not-for-profit corporation we’ve established, has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to expand the work of Retraction Watch.

The goal of the grant — $200,000 per year for two years — is to create a comprehensive and freely available database of retractions, something that doesn’t now exist, as we and others have noted. That, we wrote in our proposal, is

a gap that deprives scholarly publishing of a critical mechanism for self-correction.

While we’re able to cover somewhere around two-thirds of new retractions as they appear, we’ll need more resources to be comprehensive. Here’s more from our proposal: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 15th, 2014 at 9:30 am

ORI sanctions former University of Chicago and UCSF scientists for faking findings

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H. Rosie Xing

H. Rosie Xing

The stories behind several recent inscrutable retraction notices became a bit more clear today when the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) issued findings in cases involving former researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Francisco.

The ORI found that H. Rosie Xing, a former assistant professor at the University of Chicago, Read the rest of this entry »