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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

A new record? 27-plus years later, a notice of redundant publication

with 35 comments

royal society bA 1984 paper in Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B is now subject to a notice of redundant publication because a lot of it had been published in Cell the same year.

Whether 28 years — 27 years and 9 months, to be precise — is any kind of official record is unclear, since we haven’t really kept track of notices of redundant publication. It would, however, beat the record for longest time between publication and retraction, 27 years and one month.

Here’s the notice, which ran in September of last year but just came to our attention:

Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 307, 271–282 (24 December 1984) (doi:10.1098/rstb.1984.0127)

After the publication of this article, it was brought to the attention of the editors of Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B that this article contains substantial content which was included in a previously published article [1], without referencing the prior publication.

Reference
1. Wright S., Rosenthal A., Flavell R., Grosveld F. 1984. DNA sequences required for regulated expression of beta-globin genes in murine erythroleukemia cells. Cell 38, 265–273.

The Royal Society version of the paper has been cited five times, according to Thomson Scientific, while the Cell version has been cited 189 times.

We’ve asked the editor of Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B what prompted the notice, and why it happened now, but have not heard back. We do know that pseudonymous whistleblower Clare Francis wrote to the journal’s editor in July 2011 pointing out that the papers looked similar, and that a journal staffer suggested they’d be asking for a correction.

One of the papers’ authors, Yale’s R.A. Flavell, was one of many authors of a Journal of Biological Chemistry paper corrected last year because figures were “excessively edited.”

Update, 8:30 a.m. Eastern, 5/9/13: The journal tells us:

We looked into the two papers and decided that there was enough new material in our paper to warrant a notice of redundant publication rather than a full retraction. The problem was brought to our attention recently.

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35 Responses

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  1. HUGE!!! Would you believe this? The last two authors of these papers are really BIG scientists in the field!! Amazing – how did they find out – after digitilising those articles?

    Ressci Integrity

    May 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

    • Are they big scientists or cheaters!

      MC

      May 8, 2013 at 9:50 am

      • RA Flavell has 2 previous retractions:-

        1. Science. 2005 Dec 23;310(5756):1903.

        http://www.sciencemag.org/content/310/5756/1903.2.long

        This one might be thought as doing the right thing once you realize that something is not right.

        2. J Clin Invest. 2003 Nov;112(10):1597.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC259142/

        Administrative things go wrong all the time.

        “There were no scientific errors in the paper, and we stand by the validity, importance, and interest of the results.” If that be the case why not resubmit? Perhaps the authors did, although I could not find anything.
        I do not understand why people “stand by the validity” without the evidence being made public. It sounds like management-speak.

        fernando pessoa

        May 8, 2013 at 10:21 am

        • Retraction Nr. 2. The animal experiments were not aproved by the local “Institutional Animal Care and Usage Committee”. That was the reason for the retraction. Probably the results were fine.

          Hans Müller

          May 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

  2. Yes Grosveld and Flavell are huge namesm, Ive read several of their papers. It seems like Flavell has his name associated with a number of retractions, including this:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/310/5756/1903.2.long

    Flavell is the kind of name you work for and get a job, even if you have a crappy publication record with him. This is pure speculation,. but maybe he is just not carefully monitoring what is going on in the lab.

    I did see him speak…I left early, a terrible presentation.

    NMH

    May 8, 2013 at 10:04 am

  3. This notice seems to solely satisfy copyright claims from “Cell press” probably being the driving force to this notification, because it solely seems to fullfill citation policies. “Contains substantial content” is in my opinion still not an acceptable approach. It is still not satisfactory if in reality it is a redundant publication or duplicated manuscript, because then the overall publication does not correspond to general publication ethics. Unfortunately the secondary publication is behind a paywall. Can someone give a statement about the content of the secondary publication and the reference?

    Hans Müller

    May 8, 2013 at 10:27 am

    • RE “We looked into the two papers and decided that there was enough new material in our paper to warrant a notice of redundant publication rather than a full retraction. The problem was brought to our attention recently.”

      Figures which are recognizably the same in both publications.

      Cell 1984 Phil Trans

      Figure 3 Lower half figure 3.

      Figure 4 Figure 4

      Figure 5 Figure 5

      Figure 6 Figure 6

      Figure 7 Figure 7

      Figure 8 Figure 8

      How much overlap do you need to get a retraction from Phil Trans?

      There was another notice of a redundant publication in Phil Trans recently.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3172609/

      On looking at the publications concerned I noticed that in the earlier publication, where there we two authors “we” was employed, whereas in the redundant later publication, where there is a sinlge author, “I” was employed. The long and short of it.

      “Enough new material in our paper to warrant a notice of redundant publication rather than a full retraction” is akin to Newspeak slogans from Minitrue.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Truth

      In some ways the twisted slogans are a reflection of reality.
      In historical times the Commonwealth of England’s motto was “Peace is sought through war”.
      Phil Trans started only 5 years after the end of the Commonwealth.

      fernando pessoa

      May 13, 2013 at 8:32 am

  4. The group that corrected the JBC paper with Flavell last year have some history of making ugly figures.
    Cell. 2005 Aug 26;122(4):593-603. Proapoptotic BID is an ATM effector in the DNA-damage response. PMID: 16122426
    A lot of funny stuff. E.g. 6A, 7B, clearly spliced. The thing is that they have indicated that they have spliced some other figures.

    J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 5;277(14):12237-45. Epub 2002 Jan 22. tBID Homooligomerizes in the mitochondrial membrane to induce apoptosis. PMID: 11805084
    Figure 2B, spliced.

    Junk Science

    May 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    • Good find Junk Science. In the Cell paper Fig. 2a the 2nd and 3rd lanes look like pasted in duplicates.
      In the JBC paper, the data in the correction seems to contradict the main conclusion, that ncBID can cause apoptosis, as the untreated cells have almost as much ncBID as the induced cells, yet they remain alive.

      michaelhbriggs

      May 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      • michaelbriggs, that’s even more suspicious. There is a lot of starnge things going on in the cell paper. For example, Supplemental Figure S3A, right panel, third lane, look at the white lane at the bottom of this lane, clearly something fishy.

        Junk Science

        May 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm

        • Yes Junk Science, in Figure S3A, upper right panel, the bottom of the third lane is not aligned with lanes 1,2 and 4, and it looks like the 4th lane has been spliced on.

          michaelhbriggs

          May 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    • RE: J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 5;277(14):12237-45.
      Figure 1B. Suspect lane 1 spliced on. Vertical,light areas between the bands in lanes 1 and 2. Changes in background, especially noticeable around the Bax band in lane 1.
      Figure 2A. Suspect that the input panel has been spliced on.
      Figure 3A. Right panel. Suspect splicing between lanes. Series of vertical streaks between lanes.
      Figure 3B. Left panel. Suspect splicing between lanes. Vertical,light streaks between bands.

      fernando pessoa

      May 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      • RE: J Biol Chem. 2002 Apr 5;277(14):12237-45
        Fig. 1A actin panel the bands in lane 4 and lane 6 appear the same.

        michaelhbriggs

        May 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm

  5. EMBO Journal Vol.17 No.14 pp.3878–3885, 1998. PMID: 9670005

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1170723/pdf/003878.pdf

    Figure 1C. Bax monomer band in lane 1 has a vertically truncated right end. Suspect spliced in.
    Figure 1D. Vertical change in background between lanes 1 and 2. Bands in lanes 1 and 3 have vertical right ends.

    Figure 2B. Suspect Bax monomer band in lane 1 spliced in. The Bax band in lane 1 has a vertical, straight right edge.
    Figure 2C. The left end of the black band just above the 66 mark in lane 4 seems a bit too vertical and flat.

    Figure 4A. Something funny about the band in lane 2. Lower edge is nearly straight and horizontal.

    fernando pessoa

    May 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm

  6. Rachel Sarig seems to be on all strange papers. Quick look at pubmed, will look more in detail later.
    PLoS One. 2008;3(11):e3707. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003707. Epub 2008 Nov 12. p53 plays a role in mesenchymal differentiation programs, in a cell fate dependent manner. PMID: 19002260
    Figure 5C, clearly spliced.

    Cell Death Differ. 2013 May;20(5):774-83. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2013.9. Epub 2013 Feb 15. p53 is required for brown adipogenic differentiation and has a protective role against diet-induced obesity. PMID: 23412343
    Figure 3A, 4D, both clearly spliced.

    Junk Science

    May 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm

  7. Mol Cell Biol. 1998 Oct;18(10):6083-9.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9742125

    Figure 3A.
    Alpha-BCL2 IP/alpha-BAX WB (top) panel. Short vertical streaks at the left end of the HABAX and BAX bands in 3rd lane. Suspect splicing between lanes 2 and 3.
    Alpha-HA IP/alpha-BAX WB panel. Bands in 2nd lane have vertical, straight edge. Suspect 1st lane spliced out.
    Alpha-BAX WB panel. Suspect bands in lane 6 spliced in. Vertical straight edges.
    Figure 6B. Suspect splicing between lanes 4 and 5. Vertical change in background.

    fernando pessoa

    May 8, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    • Fernando, A Gross has a ton of interesting figures, so Sarig learnt the tricks from Gross…

      Junk Science

      May 9, 2013 at 2:22 am

      • In reply to Junk Science May 9, 2013 at 2:22 am

        I think that it the lineage. Here is another last century one.

        J Cell Biol. 1998 Oct 5;143(1):207-15.
        Regulated targeting of BAX to mitochondria.
        Goping IS, Gross A, Lavoie JN, Nguyen M, Jemmerson R, Roth K, Korsmeyer SJ, Shore GC.
        PMID: 9763432
        Figure 2B. Lower left panel. Right ends of upper bands in lanes 2 and 3 are truncated and there are bright areas indicative of splicing.I suspect the the upper 2 bands in lane 4 (lower left panel) are the same as the 2 bands in the right lower panel (lane 5). Note the indentation about 2/3rds the way along (from left to right) the bottom of the lower of the two bands. In the lower right panel the signal is a bit more diffuse

        Figure 4A. BAX and BAXdeltaART bands spliced in lanes 2,3 and 4. Vertical, straight grey streaks between the bands in lanes 1/2 and 4/5.

        Figure 4C. Vertical change in background plus abrupt vertical discontinuity between lanes 3 and 4.

        fernando pessoa

        May 9, 2013 at 4:16 am

        • A more recent publication. Splicing didn’t go out of fashion.

          Endocrinology. 2007 Apr;148(4):1717-26. Epub 2007 Jan 11.
          Luteinizing hormone-induced caspase activation in rat preovulatory follicles is coupled to mitochondrial steroidogenesis.
          Yacobi K, Tsafriri A, Gross A.
          PMID: 17218406

          Figure 1D. Anti-cleaved caspase-3 panel. Short,light, vertical streak at left end of band in lane marked as 5.

          Figure 4A. p17panel. Suspect splicing between lanes marked as LH and 2. Balck band in lane 2 has vertical straight left edge. Vertical change in background between lanes.

          Figure 5. Suspect splicing between all 5 lanes in each of the top 3 panels.
          Vertical streaks/vertical changes in background between the lanes, or truncated bands.

          Figure 6C. eCG+hCG panels. p17 panel. Suspect splicing between all 3 lanes. Beta actin panel. Suspect splicing between CL2 and CL8 lane.

          fernando pessoa

          May 9, 2013 at 5:46 am

          • Cell Death Differ. 2007 Sep;14(9):1628-34. Epub 2007 Jun 22.
            Nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of BID is involved in regulating its activities in the DNA-damage response.
            Oberkovitz G, Regev L, Gross A.
            PMID: 17585339

            Figure 3c. Beta-actin panel. Suspect splicing between middle lanes. Vertical, straight, light streak between middle lanes. BID panel. Vertical change in background and light areas near the mid-line.

            fernando pessoa

            May 9, 2013 at 6:11 am

  8. J Immunol. 2009 Jan 1;182(1):515-21.
    Programmed necrotic cell death induced by complement involves a Bid-dependent pathway.
    Ziporen L, Donin N, Shmushkovich T, Gross A, Fishelson Z.
    PMID: 19109183

    Figures 1D and 1E. The background is white .

    Figure 3A. The background is white.

    Figures 7A and 7B. The background is white.

    The signifiance of the white is that it is monotonous so you cannot pin down the bands.

    fernando pessoa

    May 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm

  9. Nat Cell Biol. 2010 Jun;12(6):553-62. doi: 10.1038/ncb2057. Epub 2010 May 2.
    MTCH2/MIMP is a major facilitator of tBID recruitment to mitochondria. PMID: 20436477

    http://www.weizmann.ac.il/Biological_Regulation/gross/new_pages/publication/Zaltsman_NCB%202010.pdf

    Nat Cell Biol has the full scans of the blots, so that can be very useful if you want to find funny things. So for example, compare 2D, 3G, 4B (Mitochondrial fraction blots) and 5A with the full scans in Figure S8 where you will find the full scans. Gross has a patent based on these results.

    Junk Science

    May 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    • That might explain the institute turning a blind eye.

      fernando pessoa

      May 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm

  10. TJ,

    I can send you pdf files of high resolution Karins image. Please let me know your email.

    JC

    May 10, 2013 at 11:14 pm


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