Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

PLOS ONE retracts paper after researcher admits to fabricating data

with 2 comments

On June 19, 2017, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity published its first misconduct finding of the year. The ORI reported that Brandi M. Baughman — a former research training awardee at the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS) — had “falsified and/or fabricated data” in 11 figures in a 2016 paper published in PLOS ONE.

Two days later, on June 21, PLOS ONE retracted the paper. (Note: The retraction process proceeded relatively quickly, but took longer than two days; a spokesperson for the journal told us that the authors alerted the editors of their concerns about the publication in May.)  

The timeline for retracting flawed papers often varies — some retractions can take months, others years. After Eric Poehlman, an obesity researcher, was found guilty of misconduct in 2005, one journal took 12 years to retract a paper. In the case of Anil Jaiswal, a cancer biologist based at the University of Maryland who recently transitioned out of research, several journals have still not retracted problematic papers since being notified in August 2016.  

Here’s the retraction notice for “A High-Throughput Screening-Compatible Strategy for the Identification of Inositol Pyrophosphate Kinase Inhibitors:”

The authors of the above paper retract this article due to concerns about the integrity of the data and the validity of the conclusions. The first author, Brandi M. Baughman, has admitted to the co-authors and the Office of Research Integrity at NIH that she falsified and/or fabricated data and text concerning Figs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, S1, S2, S3, S4, and S5, for which she takes sole responsibility.

Subsequent to the paper being published, further experiments by co-authors Wang, Stashko, and Pearce have verified that a major conclusion of this article is invalid: UNC10112646, UNC10225354, and UNC10225498 are not inhibitors of PPIP5K, contrary to the claims in the published paper.

In light of these concerns, all of the authors have agreed to retract this article.

The 2016 paper, published in October, has been cited once (by the retraction notice), according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

We do not have current contact information for Baughman. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has been an associate consultant at the healthcare consulting company, ‎Adivo Associates LLC, since November 2016.

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Written by Victoria Stern

July 26th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Comments
  • Terry July 26, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Anyone else click through to the Adivo Associates home page? Apparently they specialize in falsification! They sure hired the right consultant this time!

  • Theresa Defino July 26, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    A better way to judge how quickly a retraction occurs after an ORI settlement is to look at the date of the settlement, not the date of the announcement. This settlement was signed May 17.

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