Here’s a new one that may stoke the debate about whether a paper deserves retraction merely for being wrong or less than fully right.
The journal Cell Biochemistry and Function, a Wiley title, has retracted an article it published earlier this year by a pair of Chinese authors — or, rather, from one author an an unwitting co-author. That authorship issue alone should be enough to warrant a retraction. But the retraction notice also includes a more interesting matter:
The following article from Cell Biochemistry and Function, “Notch activation Is regulated by interaction between hCLP46 and the chaperone protein calnexin” by Xiaoqin Feng and Lixin Liu, published online on 3 April 2012 in Wiley Online Library (www.wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted with agreement from the authors, the journal Editor, Nigel Loveridge, and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The retraction has been agreed because the paper was submitted without approval from the co-author, Lixin Liu, and contains data that requires further experimentation in order to support the conclusions fully.
The wording suggests that the data support the conclusions at least partly. That seems like a standard that applies to pretty much every scientific paper ever published (say it with us, a hypothesis is an idea that can be tested and disproved but not proven). And if we had a dollar for every article that ended with “additional studies are required,” we’d have lots of dollars.
We asked Loveridge by email how the retraction notice came to read as it did and will update this post if we hear from him.
Hat tip: Clare Francis