A group of smoking researchers — no, not scientists who are on fire; scientists who study the effects of tobacco smoke — has retracted a 2009 article after deciding that they were no longer “satisfied with the quality of the data.”
The paper, “Cigarette Smoke–induced Oxidative/Nitrosative Stress Impairs VEGF- and Fluid Shear Stress–Mediated Signaling in Endothelial Cells,” came from the lab of Irfan Rahman, a lung disease expert at the University of Rochester. It appeared online in 2009 in Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, which will be familiar to readers watching the case of Dipak Das.
As the notice explains:
The corresponding author has sought retraction of this work from ARS. The author statement is copied below: We, the authors, wish to retract “Cigarette Smoke–induced Oxidative/Nitrosative Stress Impairs VEGF- and Fluid Shear Stress–Mediated Signaling in Endothelial Cells” by Edirisinghe et al (Antioxid Redox Signal, 12(12): 1355-1369. doi:10.1089/ars.2009.2874) because we are not satisfied with the quality of some of the data presented in the paper. Overall, however, the data are reproducible and the conclusions drawn were not affected. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused to the readers.
The paper has been cited 18 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
We tried to reach Rahman for more information but haven’t heard back from him yet. We’d like to know in particular why it took three years for the authors to figure out that they published an article with subpar data — and how those data could in turn be reproducible, exactly.
And anyway, how is it possible that the data were so poor as to require retraction, but good enough to be reproducible, and not damaging to the study conclusions? The short answer: Doesn’t seem likely.
Perhaps the “copied below” note in the second sentence of the notice reflects the same skepticism on the part of the editors. We’ve tried them for comment too.