“What were you thinking? Do not manipulate those data”

The title of this post is stolen, with adoring attribution, from a piece in the November 16, 2010 issue of Autophagy, because we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

In the piece, the journal’s editor, Dan Klionsky, focuses on images. It reads, in part: Continue reading “What were you thinking? Do not manipulate those data”

JCO makes it official, retracting paper co-authored by Anil Potti

We have a follow-up to our post two weeks ago about a possible retraction in the case of Anil Potti, the Duke cancer researcher who falsely claimed to be a Rhodes Scholar and may have also faked an analysis of how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy.

In that post, we noted that the Raleigh News & Observer had reported that one of Potti’s collaborators, Duke’s Joseph Nevins, had requested that a 2007 paper they co-authored be retracted. The journal told us this morning that the retraction went live yesterday. In it, the authors write: Continue reading JCO makes it official, retracting paper co-authored by Anil Potti

So how many retractions are there every year, anyway?

The title of this post is a question that we’ve been asking ourselves since we started Retraction Watch in August, and that others have asked us since. And we’ve gotten different answers depending where we look:

So the real number is a) probably somewhere between 30 and 95 and b) increasing — which isn’t as precise as we’d like, but is hardly the fault of the various people who’ve tried valiantly to count.

Well, we may be a step closer to precision, sort of. Continue reading So how many retractions are there every year, anyway?

It’s poll time: Should a retraction during graduate school mean losing your PhD?

photo by secretlondon123 via flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/secretlondon/

A few weeks ago, we reported on the case of Emily Horvath, a promising scientist at Indiana University who admitted to falsifying data to make her results look better. Some of that data went into her PhD thesis. That prompted a Retraction Watch reader to ask whether scientists who commit such fraud should be stripped of their PhDs. We figured that was a good poll question, so let us know what you think.

More on Ahluwalia et al Nature retraction, from Tom DeCoursey

Yesterday,we posted on the retraction of a 2004 Nature paper on innate immunity whose findings had been questioned by two groups. A few hours after we posted that item, we heard back from the senior author of one of the papers doubting that data, Tom DeCoursey. DeCoursey makes a number of important points, so we thought it would be a good idea to share them as a post: Continue reading More on Ahluwalia et al Nature retraction, from Tom DeCoursey

Previously questioned Nature paper on innate immunity retracted

courtesy Nature

Last week, we noted a Nature editorial in which the journal came clean about its higher-than-average number of retractions this year — four. What we missed was the fact that the fourth retraction of the year also appeared in last week’s issue.

The retraction, of a paper called “The large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel is essential for innate immunity,” reads (link to the author’s homepage added): Continue reading Previously questioned Nature paper on innate immunity retracted

Nature comes clean about retractions and why they’re on the rise

courtesy Nature

This week’s Nature includes a refreshing and soul-searching editorial about retractions. Excerpt (we added links and corrected a misspelling and wrong country in the editorial after a reader noted the errors below):

This year, Nature has published four retractions, an unusually large number. In 2009 we published one. Throughout the past decade, we have averaged about two per year, compared with about one per year in the 1990s, excluding the pulse of retractions of papers co-authored by [Austrian German physicist Jan Hendrick Hendrik Schön].

Given that Nature publishes about 800 papers a year, the total is not particularly alarming, especially because only some of the retractions are due to proven misconduct. A few of the Nature research journals have also had to retract papers in recent years, but the combined data do no more than hint at a trend. A broader survey revealed even smaller proportions: in 2009, Times Higher Education commissioned a survey by Thomson Reuters that counted 95 retractions among 1.4 million papers published in 2008. But the same survey showed that, since 1990 — during which time the number of published papers doubled — the proportion of retractions increased tenfold (see http://go.nature.com/vphd17).

The editorial highlights Continue reading Nature comes clean about retractions and why they’re on the rise

A retraction in the Potti case?

In our very first post, we noted the case of Anil Potti,

a Duke researcher who posed as a Rhodes Scholar and appears to have invented key statistical analyses in a study of how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy[.The case] has sent ripples of angst through the cancer community. Potti’s antics prompted editors of The Lancet Oncology to issue an “expression of concern” — a Britishism that might be better expressed as “Holy Shit!” — about the validity of a 2007 paper in their journal by Potti and others.

There hasn’t been any further movement on The Lancet Oncology study, as far as we know, but on Friday the Raleigh News & Observer reported that one of Potti’s co-authors on a 2007 Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) paper had requested a retraction: Continue reading A retraction in the Potti case?

UK government research watchdog publishes new retraction guidelines

The UK’s Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) has just published “Guidance for researchers on retractions in academic journals.” The document is an adaptation of existing guidelines by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), a UK charity.

Nothing has changed, COPE chair Liz Wager told Retraction Watch. UKRIO just decided to convert COPE’s existing guidelines, targeted to journal editors, so that they were useful to researchers.

Update on Axel Ullrich retractions: Lead author manipulated figures, says Ullrich

Axel Ullrich, courtesy the Max Planck Institute

Yesterday, we noted that Axel Ullrich, a decorated cancer researcher, had retracted two papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The journal gave no explanation for the retractions, and our conversation with the publication director for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which puts out the journal, was less than illuminating. This morning, Ullrich responded to all of the questions we sent him by email, and our follow-ups. The picture is now a lot more clear.

Ullrich tells Retraction Watch that he found out from a “private investigator” several months ago that the papers’ lead author, Naohito Aoki, had manipulated their figures. Aoki was a postdoc in Ullrich’s lab in the early 1990s: Continue reading Update on Axel Ullrich retractions: Lead author manipulated figures, says Ullrich