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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“This publication should be ignored”: Authorship issues, flawed data fell neuro-oncology paper

with 14 comments

Neon 2009 regular volume.inddThe Journal of Neuro-Oncology wants you to ignore the following paper: “A single chain (scFv425):sTRAIL fusion protein with specificity for the EGF receptor is effective in vitro but not in an in vivo brain tumor animal model.”

The 2007 article, from a group in The Netherlands, suffered from two fatal problems. According to the retraction notice:

The article has been retracted by agreement between the authors and the editors. The reasons for retraction are twofold:
1 First author Mr Kuijlen failed to inform Dr. Helfrich on the contents of the manuscript, on the fact it was submitted for publication, and that Dr. Helfrich was listed as an author.
2 Only after online publication Dr. Helfrich became aware of this work in which he immediately detected mistakes in Mr Kuijlen’s assumptions and calculations.

All listed authors agree on the fact that the conclusion (also given in the title) about inactivity of the scFv425:sTRAIL fusion protein in vivo is unjustified. Therefore this publication should be ignored. Mr Kuijlen [Ed: that's MD-PhD to you, by the way] apologizes to all authors and to the editors and readership of the Journal of Neurooncology.

The paper has been cited 22 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

So the paper was wrong from the top down, and Kuijlen was wrong to have submitted it without the approval of Helfrich, who seems to be the big bat in this lineup. But where were the authorship attestations prior to publication?

Update, 11 a.m. Eastern, 12/10:12: Used a strike-through to delete line about citations. We were looking at citations for paper by a number of the same authors in the same journal, including similar keywords: “The efficacy of alginate encapsulated CHO-K1 single chain-TRAIL producer cells in the treatment of brain tumors.” Apologies for the error.

 

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14 Responses

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  1. seems like MD PhD Helfrich does not agree with MD PhD Kuijlen that the protein is inactive…

    markj

    December 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

    • Well, perhaps MD PhD Kuijlen didn’t agree with MD Kuijlen… and therefore agreed to retract.

      This work was submitted 4 years before his promotion, and I’m quite certain the MD bit was already there at the time of submission.

      What I find impressive is that the “big bat” did not become aware of the submission until its online publication. Meaning that either the journal did not put their papers online until just this year (really, at Springer?), or that the retraction itself took five or six years…

      CH

      December 4, 2012 at 11:34 am

      • Or option 3: Helfrich publishes so many papers that he never noticed the one extra paper until recently.

        Marco

        December 4, 2012 at 11:47 am

      • http://publicationslist.org/w.helfrich

        Doesn’t look likely… But he’s got two Marco’s in his group so I won’t argue any further if you’re one of them…

        CH

        December 4, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      • Don’t worry, I am not one of his Marco’s. But his ‘limited’ publication list (compared to some MDs) indeed makes my suggestion less likely.

        Marco

        December 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      • It looks as if that journal was not online until 2012. The dates listed in the notice show the paper was submitted and accepted in 2006 but posted online in 2012. It does seem unusual for Springer, but maybe they kept some of their products on paper only for a while. It would be reasonable to think that Helfrich does not read every journal in the Springer product line. Was Springer not sending out notices to all co-authors back then?

        JudyH

        December 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    • These are the facts:

      On november 21, 2012, for unknown reasons, the Journal of Neuro-Oncology ‘out of the blue’ re-dated the online retraction note that was published already early 2008.

      Editor-in-Chief Linda M. Liau states: “re-publication of the retraction note might have been due to a glitch in the system” and (if possible) “the publication date (will be) set back to the original date”.

      Adam Marcus claims that the retracted paper was cited 22 times. Also this is not correct. The paper was never cited as it was retracted after its on line appearance.

      fact

      December 10, 2012 at 10:36 am

      • Thanks, we’ve corrected the citation data with the following update:

        Used a strike-through to delete line about citations. We were looking at citations for paper by a number of the same authors in the same journal, including similar keywords: “The efficacy of alginate encapsulated CHO-K1 single chain-TRAIL producer cells in the treatment of brain tumors.” Apologies for the error.

        If you could send us the original message in which Dr. Liau explained what happened, we can update that too.

        ivanoransky

        December 10, 2012 at 10:59 am

        • Dear Ivan, It really makes one wonder why the RetractionWatch team was seeking for citations and then use a different paper?

          fact

          December 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm

          • We always look for citations, as a review of Retraction Watch posts will make clear. And as our note makes clear, we made an error, and we’ve apologized for it. Perhaps you’ve never searched a list of publications and made an error like this, nor any other error.

            Again, if you’d like to give an original source for the quote from Dr. Liau, we’d appreciate that.

            ivanoransky

            December 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      • I don’t see a retraction notice for this paper in 2008, at least in the online version. Would it have been removed from the 2008 folder when the glitch caused a republication of the notice in 2012?

        JudyH

        December 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

  2. It has taken almost six years from the moment the problems with the paper were first noticed to its retraction. Seems a bit excessive.

    chirality

    December 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    • When were the problems first noticed?

      JudyH

      December 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

  3. Is there a reason that he is “Mr.” Kuijlen in the retraction notice?

    JudyH

    December 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm


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