Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Duke pulmonary researcher up to 14 retractions, putting her on our leaderboard

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PLOS OneA pair of Duke researchers who each have more than 10 retractions have earned some more.

Both of the newly retracted papers — originally published in 2012 by PLOS ONE — list Erin Potts-Kant as a co-author; one includes her former supervisor, Michael Foster, as lead author. The pair has since left Duke (Potts-Kant was arrested for using school credit cards to shop at the likes of Target, and Foster retired). The reason provided for these retractions will be familiar to anyone who’s been following their case — there were “concerns about the reliability” of the data.

By our count, Potts-Kant now has 14 retractions, making her one of the few women to hold a position on our leaderboard.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Iron Supplementation Decreases Severity of Allergic Inflammation in Murine Lung,” a paper that lists both Foster and Potts-Kant as authors:

The authors of the published article have identified concerns about the reliability of a subset of the reported data, specifically the data underlying Figures 1 and 2. Potential discrepancies have been discovered between the machine-generated raw data and the data for publication provided by the murine pulmonary function laboratory, and the authors have become aware of potential issues in methodology that could make the data unreliable. Figures 3 and 4 are not affected.

In light of the concerns identified, the authors retract this publication.

The paper has been cited five times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Innate Immune Activation by Inhaled Lipopolysaccharide, Independent of Oxidative Stress, Exacerbates Silica-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis in Mice:”

The authors of the published article have identified concerns about the reliability of a subset of the reported data, specifically the data underlying Figures 7–9 and the observation that NAC alters the response to silica and LPS in mouse lung. The authors have discovered discrepancies between the raw data from the pulmonary function laboratory and the data it provided for publication, and have concerns about the protocols followed during the animal exposures from which those data were obtained. Figures 1–6 are not affected.

In light of the concerns identified, the authors retract this publication.

The paper has been cited 10 times. Foster is not included on the co-author list, but there are some names that may be familiar to readers, such as John Hollingsworth and Richard Auten, who were listed on some of the pair’s previous retractions, and are both affiliated with Duke.

Per our records, Potts-Kant now has 14 retractions, three corrections, four partial retractions, and three expressions of concern. She had one other expression of concern, which turned into a retraction (included in the total above). Foster’s total is 12 retractions, five corrections, four partial retractions, and three expressions of concern.

This may not be the last we hear of the pair — as a source told Retraction Watch last month, researchers are still working to repeat experiments completed by the pair, and it was unclear how many corrections or retractions may result.

A source with knowledge of the situation says that Duke continues to support the investigation of papers authored by Potts-Kant and Foster.

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