A Cancer Cell mega-correction for highly cited researcher who retracted paper earlier this year
MIT’s Robert Weinberg, a leading cancer researcher who retracted a Cancer Cell paper earlier this year for “inappropriate presentation” of figures, has corrected a different paper in the same journal.
Here’s the correction for “Species- and Cell Type-Specific Requirements for Cellular Transformation:”
We were apprised recently of errors made in the assembly of Figures 2B, 3A, 4A, 4B, and 5G, resulting in the incorporation of incorrect representative images in these figures. These errors occurred during the electronic assembly and have no bearing on the conclusions of the study. The corrected figures are shown below. The authors apologize for any possible confusion this might have caused.
Here’s the original Figure 2 and caption, followed by the new version (read all the way to the end of the post for more details on how this came to light):New:
We asked Weinberg how the errors came to the team’s attention:
As I recall, there was a person (identity unknown to me) who trolls through the literature looking for places where there are indications of error. S/he studied this paper and correctly discovered that there were certain details of several of the figures that just did not make sense. We were apprised of this discovery (I forget whether it was from the journal or indirectly from this individual), and so we (largely the first author) went through the published paper and sure enough confirmed that there were errors in the details of several of the figures, which confirmation we apprised the journal of. We then requested that we publish an erratum to correct these errors. While they did not affect the overall conclusions of the paper, they were nevertheless errors, and the journal agreed to allow the publication of these errata. Anapoorni Rangarajan then proceeded to describe in detail how these errata arose and how the figures should have correctly been published, which is what you have now seen.
The person unknown was more than likely Clare Francis, who sent Cell an email on January 17 of this year — three days after the Cancer Cell retraction notice appeared — describing a number of potential issues in the paper. Questions have also been raised on PubPeer.