Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

You can’t make this stuff up: Plagiarism guideline paper retracted for…plagiarism

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ijdermThis could be an April Fools’ joke. But it isn’t.

In what can only be described as an ironic twist, the Indian Journal of Dermatology is retracting a paper that presents guidelines on plagiarism for…wait for it…


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

Slippery slope? Data problems force retraction of landslide paper

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The Mameyes Landslide, in Puerto Rico, buried more than 100 homes in 1985.  Source: USGS

The Mameyes Landslide, in Puerto Rico, buried more than 100 homes in 1985. Source: USGS

The authors of a 2014 paper in The Scientific World Journal on rock slopes have retracted their article for “erroneous” data.

The paper, “Slope Stability Analysis Using Limit Equilibrium Method in Nonlinear Criterion,” came from a group of researchers from institutions including the Changjiang River Scientific Research Institute in Wuhan, and the Key Laboratory of Transportation Tunnel Engineering at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu. It’s about (we think) how to calculate the safety of rock slopes, and how vulnerable they are to landslides.

Here’s the notice, which as a pretty fair ratio of words to information:

Read the rest of this entry »

Journal retracts part of molecular bio paper due to “unsubstantiated conclusions”

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j mol evAll but one of the authors of a 2013 Journal of Molecular Evolution paper have requested a partial retraction due to “erroneous data” and “scientific misconduct” on the part of the remaining author.

The note blames second author Michael Kolesnikov for falsifying data on the formation of ATP. According to the notice, the misconduct was confirmed by a “thorough investigation” by the Bach Institute of Biochemistry in Russia, which no longer employs Kolesnikov.

Here is the note for “Abiotic Photophosphorylation Model Based on Abiogenic Flavin and Pteridine Pigments”: Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer Cell issues big correction over “incorrectly cropped” figures, other issues

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cancer cell A 2014 Cancer Cell paper became the subject of an erratum in January 2015, shortly after PubPeer members began criticizing the data. However, many issues brought up by commenters weren’t addressed in the correction notice, including a figure that might be two experiments spliced together to look like one.

The paper, led by Guido Franzoso at Imperial College London, claims that a new cancer drug called DTP3 kills myeloma cells “without causing any toxic side effects,” according to a press release from the school. Guido Franzoso is the founder of Kesios Therapeutics, a drug company which is set to begin clinical trials on DTP3.

The correction indicates that Western blots were cropped badly, which omitted several panels discussed in the text, while an “extra time point” was included accidentally. An antibody was also omitted from the description of the procedure.

PubPeer commenters have noticed additional issues, such as a criticism of figure 3D, which were not included or changed in this correction.

Here’s the correction for “Cancer-Selective Targeting of the NF-κB Survival Pathway with GADD45β/MKK7 Inhibitors”: Read the rest of this entry »

“Serious and obvious mistakes” kill paper on heart attacks in rats

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j card pharmA group of researchers in China and the United States have retracted a 2014 paper in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology after discovering the data were fatally flawed.

The article examined whether the anti-arrhythmia drug zacopride affected cardiac remodeling after heart attack, and came from Bo-We Wu, of Shanxi Medical University, in Taiyuan, and colleagues, including one author from Savannah, Georgia.

Here’s more from the notice for “Activation of IK1 channel by zacopride attenuates left ventricular remodeling in rats with myocardial infarction”:

Read the rest of this entry »

Drug paper gets a fix, notching several corrections

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rsc_tb_1_3_COVER.inddThe Journal of Materials Chemistry B has issued a laundry list of corrections for a 2014 chemotherapy paper, which address re-use of “some text”, incorrectly stated doses, and miscalculations of the drug concentration, among other issues.

The paper described a new way to deliver gemcitabine via nanoparticles, focusing the drug on the tumors.

It turns out the authors’ focus wasn’t so clear when writing the paper. The researchers, at the Chinese Academy of Medical Science, Peking Union Medical College, and Tianjin University in China, said they used “some text” from two 2013 papers by a team of French oncologists “without appropriate attribution,” as well as repeatedly getting the in vivo dose wrong. The manuscript also contained several incorrect calculations of the “drug loading,” or the proportion of active drug.

Here’s the correction for “Tailor-made gemcitabine prodrug nanoparticles from well-defined drug–polymer amphiphiles prepared by controlled living radical polymerization for cancer chemotherapy” (free, but requires sign-in): Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing gold can stay: gold nanoparticle paper retracted for figure theft

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matresexpA paper on gold nanoparticles has been retracted after the publisher learned one of the figures had a “high degree of similarity” to a figure published by other authors a few months prior.

According to the notice, it was two authors of the retracted paper themselves who pointed out the overlap. The first author, Pratap Sahoo, is not mentioned, although it does say all three authors agreed to retract. The corresponding author of the original paper told us he was unaware of the incident.

You can compare the figures for yourself – on the left is figure 6(a) from the retracted Materials Research Express paper, rotated 90 degrees. On the right is figure 4(e) from “Porous Au Nanoparticles with Tunable Plasmon Resonances and Intense Field Enhancements for Single-Particle SERS,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters: Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: Monsanto demands retraction; fast-track peer review for fee scrutinized; fraud in China

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booksThis week at Retraction Watch featured 43 papers retracted at once for fake peer reviews. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 28th, 2015 at 9:32 am

Posted in weekend reads

“Not faithful” figures kill apoptosis paper

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iaicoverA paper on apoptosis in mice has been retracted by Infection and Immunity after a reader tipped them off that several figures were “not faithful representations of the original data.”

When the journal, published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), contacted the authors at Anhui Medical University in Hefei, China, they claimed they couldn’t provide the experimental data thanks to “damage to a personal computer,” said Ferric Fang, editor of the journal and a member of the board of directors of the Center for Scientific Integrity, Retraction Watch’s parent organization. Seven figures in total were compromised, including several that were duplicated throughout the article.

Here’s the notice for “Reactive Oxygen Species-Triggered Trophoblast Apoptosis Is Initiated by Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress via Activation of Caspase-12, CHOP, and the JNK Pathway in Toxoplasma gondii Infection in Mice”: Read the rest of this entry »

Cabbage batch skids: new experiments dry up plant paper

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current biologyProminent plant researcher Mark Estelle has retracted a paper on plant hormones after follow-up studies showed the conclusions were incorrect.

The hormone in question, auxin, is a major player in plant growth and development. The retracted Current Biology paper reported that a certain auxin receptor, designated AFB4, downregulates the responses of cabbage-cousin Arabidopsis thaliana to the signaling molecule. But after publication, the researchers experimented with a mutant seedling that didn’t produce the receptor, and discovered it didn’t overreact to auxin signals, indicating the receptor wasn’t playing a major role in limiting the effects.

Estelle, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator based at the University of California, San Diego, told us he and his team are working on a paper that will contain the accurate data from the paper, along with new findings.

Here’s the notice for “The AFB4 Auxin Receptor Is a Negative Regulator of Auxin Signaling in Seedlings”, which has 62 citations, per Google Scholar: Read the rest of this entry »