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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Vanishing citation for vanishing twin paper

with 2 comments

AJMB.gifThe author of a paper on the phenomenon of the vanishing twin has lost the article for failure to list his co-author on the article.

The paper, “Genotyping Analysis of Circulating Fetal Cells Reveals High Frequency of Vanishing Twin Following Transfer of Multiple Embryos,” had appeared earlier this year in Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology, a publication of the Avicenna Research Institute, in Tehran, Iran. The author was Hussein Mouawia, a biologist at Lebanese University in Beirut.

According to the retraction notice:

The author has requested that the original article entitled “Genotyping Analysis of Circulating Fetal Cells Reveals High Frequency of Vanishing Twin Following Transfer of Multiple Embryos” that was published in the April-June 2013 issue of Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology (AJMB) be withdrawn because the results were published without the co-workers being aware of this publication. Therefore this paper is retracted, considering the fact that it is contrary to the scientific rules and unrespectful of the contribution of the other authors.

Could the editors have caught this one? Perhaps the use of the word “we” in the abstract might have been a tip-off:

We have tested intact fetal trophoblastes recovered at 4th to 10th weeks of gestation (WG) from blood (10 ml per mother) of 13 women after In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and transfer of one or several embryos. Large cells isolated from blood were individually microdissected and studied by genetic fingerprinting with a mean number of 3 Short Tandem Repeats (STR) markers, known to be informative by testing paternal and maternal blood DNA.

Last we checked Mouawia was not royalty, so that “we” in the absence of multiple author names might have raised an eyebrow or two.

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Written by Adam Marcus

December 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

2 Responses

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  1. A single-author using “we” is common practice. I suppose it sounds less pompous that “I”. Some would recommend against using personal pronouns altogether, perhaps preferring a passive sentence structure. In my opinion, restricting the writing style with artificial rules is one of the reasons why the scientific literature is so dull and why people rarely read whole papers, but just skim to the important bits.

    Compare the books on natural sciences to those in say history, and you will find that the latter contain much better prose (on average, not always).


    December 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    • I would argue the “better prose” often introduces exaggerations and distortions. I am happy with straight forward (“dull”) science writing, and would be much happier if we shortened the biasing introduction section and the conjecture-laden discussion section, thus leaving us mostly with “important bits” (methods and results). Save flourishes for commentary and the like.

      Here is a recent opinion on story telling in science: “Against storytelling of scientific results”


      Andrew Brown

      December 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm

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