Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘uk retractions’ Category

“Carelessness” forces Science to correct paper about immune booster

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Science is fixing images in a paper published online in April that discovered an immune-boosting protein, after the authors mistakenly mixed up similar-looking Western blots.

The paper, which received some press coverage, identified a protein that helped the immune system fight off cancers and infections. Philip Ashton-Rickardt, a scientist at Imperial College London who led the study, told the The Telegraph:

This is exciting because we have found a completely different way to use the immune system to fight cancer.

The editor in chief of Science, Marcia McNutt, told us that the journal contacted the authors once it learned of “irregularities” in some of the figures, which did not affect the conclusions of the paper:

Cochrane withdraws criticized alcohol misuse report for “major errors”

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Cochrane_LogoThe Cochrane Library has withdrawn a criticized 2014 meta-analysis about a technique to help young people avoid alcohol abuse, because of “major errors.” 

The review found that motivational interviewing, a form of counseling to help people change behaviors, showed some effects but had “no substantive, meaningful benefits” in preventing alcohol abuse among people 25 and younger. However, other researchers in the field, including some whose studies were included in the analysis, soon raised concerns about the review’s methods and data calculation, and the authors withdrew it. 

Here’s the brief notice for “Motivational interviewing for alcohol misuse in young adults:”

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Retraction strikes power grid paper with “almost identical” content to previous study

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EnergiesAn electrical engineering paper published in April has been retracted because of similarities to a 2012 paper from different authors, including “almost identical” data in two of the papers’ tables.

The authors were unable to provide the original numbers for the suspect tables, along with a pair of “similar” figures, which bore a striking resemblance to ones presented in the same 2012 paper. Corresponding author Tao Jin at Fuzhou University in China requested the withdrawal “in order to repeat the experiments and obtain new data.”

Energies posted the retraction October 1.

Here’s it is, in full:

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Written by Ross Keith

October 22nd, 2015 at 11:30 am

Should peer review be open, and rely less on author-picked reviewers? Study says…

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BMJ openAfter reviewing hundreds of peer review reports from three journals, authors representing publishers BioMed Central and Springer suggest there may be some benefits to using “open” peer review — where both authors and reviewers reveal their identity — and not relying on reviewers hand-picked by the authors themselves.

But the conclusions are nuanced — they found that reviewers recommended by authors do just as good a job as other reviewers, but are more likely to tell the journal to publish the paper. In a journal that always uses open reviews — BMC Infectious Diseases — reviews are “of higher quality” than at a journal where authors are blinded to reviewers, but when one journal made a switch from a blinded to an open system, the quality didn’t improve.

Here’s what the authors conclude in the abstract of the paper, published today in BMJ Open: Read the rest of this entry »

Can you spot the signs of retraction? Just count the errors, says a new study

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downloadClinical studies that eventually get retracted are originally published with significantly more errors than non-retracted trials from the same journal, according to a new study in BMJ.

The authors actually called the errors “discrepancies” — for example, mathematical mistakes such as incorrect percentages of patients in a subgroup, contradictory results, or statistical errors.

The study doesn’t predict which papers will eventually be retracted, since such discrepancies occur frequently (including one in the paper itself), but the authors suggest a preponderance could serve as an “early and accessible signal of unreliability.”

According to the authors, all based at Imperial College London, you see a lot more of these in papers that are eventually retracted: Read the rest of this entry »

Correction “does not change the scientific meaning” of leukemia letter

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The journal Blood has issued a correction in a 2009 letter about the molecular underpinnings of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Despite the extent of the changes to a figure, “the error does not change the scientific meaning,” according to the erratum.

The article “p73, miR106b, miR34a, and Itch in chronic lymphocytic leukemia” was written in response to a 2009 Blood paper about the role of a microRNA in CLL. But its western blots were “assembled incorrectly,” leading to duplicated panels. Another set of panels was “shifted.”

So the authors repeated the experiments, and presented them in a correction. Here’s the correction notice in full, published earlier this month, including the figures in question:

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Investigation of prominent geneticist Latchman finds “procedural matters,” no misconduct

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David Latchman, Birkbeck

An investigation by the University College London has cleared prominent geneticist David Latchman of misconduct, but concluded he has “procedural matters in his lab that required attention.”

Latchman has two retracted paperson PubPeer, there are questions about nearly four dozen more.

The results of the investigation were first reported by the Times Higher Education. We also received a short statement from a UCL spokesperson:

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Voinnet notches second retraction, two more corrections

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PNASOlivier Voinnet — a plant researcher who was recently suspended for two years from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) after an investigation by ETH Zurich and CNRS found evidence of misconduct — has issued his second retraction and two more corrections.

PNAS posted the retraction earlier this week for a 2006 article after an inspection of the raw data revealed “errors” in study images. Authors confirmed the issues in some figures and revealed “additional mounting mistakes” in others.

Voinnet has promised to issue retractions and corrections for every study that requires them. These latest notices bring our tally up to nine corrections, two retractions and one Expression of Concern.

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Second correx for controversial paper on the financial benefits of climate change

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Journal of Economic PerspectivesThe Journal of Economic Perspectives has published a second correction for a 2009 paper that argued that some amount of global warming could lead to economic gains.

The author of “The Economic Effects of Climate Change,” Richard Tol, a professor of economics at the University of Sussex, blamed earlier problems with the paper on “gremlins.” In a notice posted last year, Tol wrote that “minus signs were dropped”; he also added a pair of “overlooked estimates” and several recently published studies.

After the first correction was published, several people contacted the JEP to point out more issues with the paper. Editors worked with Tol and outside researchers to update the paper again.

Here’s some text from the newest correction notice:

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JBC cancer paper felled by duplication is one author’s second retraction this month

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25.coverA 2002 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on how lung cancer cells resist death has been retracted for duplicating figures from a 2001 paper.

The retracted paper, “Fibroblast growth factor-2 induces translational regulation of Bcl-XL and Bcl-2 via a MEK-dependent pathway: correlation with resistance to etoposide-induced apoptosis,” shares the first and last authors with the 2001 paper, in Oncogene, as well as two other co-authors.

Here’s JBC’s entire retraction note, a sub-genre with which we’ve become intimately familiar by now:

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