Pain study retracted for bogus data is second withdrawal for University of Calgary group
Back in January 2013, we wrote about the retraction of a paper in Diabetes that the authors had “submitted without knowledge of inherent errors or abnormalities that they recognized in retrospect after submission.”
Now, Molecular Pain has retracted a paper by the same authors, this time for data manipulation. The article, “Comparison of central versus peripheral delivery of pregabalin in neuropathic pain states,” was written by Cory Toth, a clinical neuroscientist at the University of Calgary, in Canada, and colleagues. It has been cited eight times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Toth said of the Diabetes article at the time:
While preparing for a subsequent work, it came to our attention that the luxol fast blue images in the image were representative of separate cohorts of mice not studied in the publication. Due to this carelessness, I asked for retraction while we ensured that other images were truly representative and to permit performance of new image acquisition.
But the notice in Molecular Pain suggests a different sequence of events for the Molecular Pain paper:
The corresponding author Cory C Toth would like to retract the article . It has come to light that the data obtained at the University of Calgary presented in Figure 4A and Figure 5 have been manipulated which was unrecognized by the corresponding author. The University of Calgary has investigated this case and supports the decision to retract the article. We apologize for misleading the readership of Molecular Pain.
We tried to reach Toth but didn’t hear back. We’ll update this post if we learn more.
Update April 7, 2014, 12 p.m.: We heard from Toth, who sent us the following response by e-mail:
Please know that I have retracted a series of papers, the last of which will likely not be published until mid-June. Also, please know that this has been a devastatingly bad year for my laboratory and my career. As a result, this will be my single response to your website’s questions. Much of the story behind the errors in our works is already published on your website, Retraction Watch.
The results of a University of Calgary investigation committee into my work found the following:
1) I insufficiently supervised two junior technicians.
2) I failed to identify red flags with their behaviors.
3) My laboratory failed to keep sufficient records on data obtained.
4) I incorrectly upregulated low resolution subimages into high resolution images for journal submission
These were my errors, and as a result, I agree with the retractions of manipulated works identified. There is clearly data that was recycled in different forms rather than being newly performed in at least a small portion of each of the manuscripts implicated.
I am significantly apologetic, remorseful, and embarrassed that this occurred under my watch. Please know that I will not be publishing in the world of science in the future.
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