Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘uk retractions’ Category

Caught Our Notice: Reporter’s inquiry prompts financial disclosure in autism paper

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Promoting child-initiated social-communication in children with autism: Son-Rise Program intervention effects

What caught our attention: When journalist Brendan Borrell was investigating a controversial autism treatment program for Spectrum, he came across a study where lead author Kat Houghton failed to disclose a prior relationship with the treatment center that taught the program, called Son-Rise.

The Spectrum article notes:

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“My dog ate the data:” Eight excuses journal editors hear

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As a journal editor, are you tired of hearing the same excuses from authors who are facing allegations of problematic data? If so, you’re not alone.

Recently, an editor of the journal Oncogene co-authored an editorial in the journal listing the types of excuses he often hears — and why none of them is valid. Writing the article with editor Justin Stebbing of Imperial College/Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust is David Sanders of Purdue University. Sanders himself has raised allegations of misconduct against a cancer researcher (and is currently being sued for defamation as a result).

Here are the problematic excuses they encounter:

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Written by Alison McCook

October 26th, 2017 at 9:27 am

Caught Our Notice: Investigation finds “accidental mistakes” in PNAS stem cell paper

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Via Wikimedia

When Retraction Watch began in 2010, our co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus quickly realized they couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of retractions that appeared each year.  And the problem has only gotten worse — although we’ve added staff, the number of retractions issued each year has increased dramatically. According to our growing database, just shy of 1,000 retractions were issued last year (and that doesn’t include expressions of concern and errata). So to get new notices in front of readers more quickly, we’ve started a new feature called “Caught our Notice,” where we highlight a recent notice that stood out from the others. If you have any information about what happened, feel free to contact us at

Title: Combined hydrogels that switch human pluripotent stem cells from self-renewal to differentiation 

What caught our attention: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

October 16th, 2017 at 8:30 am

Dispute over author order torpedoes paper on syndrome linked to autism

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At least one disgruntled co-author has triggered the retraction of a paper presenting a novel approach to treating a rare, genetically inherited condition.

The paper concerned research on Fragile X syndrome (FXS), characterized by both intellectual and physical abnormalities, which is linked autism. A compound that passed through phase 2 clinical trials in October 2015 appeared to partially treat FXS in mice in the study, published earlier this year.

The journal’s notice says the paper was retracted over a dispute among authors about the order in which they are listed on the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Lost citation snuffs out Aussie fire paper

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A journal has retracted a 2016 paper on wildfires in Australia because the authors neglected to cite earlier work — an unintentional lapse, they said.

The article, “Projected changes in Australian fire regimes during the 21st century and consequences for Ecosystems,” appeared in the International Journal of Wildland Fire. The authors are Sandy Harrison and Douglas Kelley,  of the University of Reading, in the UK. Kelley appears to have done his share of the work as a PhD student at Macquarie University in Australia.

According to the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Third retraction for former rising star found guilty of misconduct

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A once-prominent researcher in the field of infectious disease — who was found guilty of misconduct last year— has had a third paper retracted, a 2006 article in PNAS.

Last year, the University of Dundee in Scotland found that Robert Ryan had committed research misconduct, which included misrepresenting clinical data and duplicating images in a dozen different publications. After a failed attempt to appeal the decision, Ryan resigned.

In April, we covered Ryan’s first two retractions – a 2012 paper in Molecular Microbiology, which cited image errors, and a 2011 paper in Journal of Bacteriology, which cited image duplication.

Now, PNAS has retracted a 2006 paper, which cites potential image duplication as well as “irregularities” in the data.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Cell–cell signaling in Xanthomonas campestris involves an HD-GYP domain protein that functions in cyclic di-GMP turnover:”

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No new math: Journal pulls math paper with “already known” results

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A mathematics journal has withdrawn a paper after discovering that the results were not new.

The paper, published online in March in Communications in Algebra, explored the properties of group rings, a discipline of algebra. According to editor-in-chief of the journal, Jason Bell, author Francis E. A. Johnson, a professor of mathematics at the University College London, devised a property associated with group rings, and defined it using the term “weakly finite.” But, at the time, Johnson was not aware that other experts had already defined the same property, using the term “stably finite.”

Bell, a professor of mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and Lance Small, the journal’s other editor-in-chief, stressed that this issue was “definitely not a matter of plagiarism.” Bell and Small told us in a joint statement that “it was ultimately no one’s fault—it is just one of these things that can happen occasionally in mathematics research.” But given the overlap, the editors thought it best to withdraw the paper, they said: Read the rest of this entry »

Quick: What does fish food have to do with X-rays? In this case, an Elsevier production error

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An MRI of a fish, not involved in this study. (via Wikimedia)

In 2012, a study claiming to show — after some intentional statistical tricks — that a dead salmon had brain activity in an fMRI won a prestigious (and hilarious) Ig Nobel Prize.

So five years later, when Bálint Botz tweeted wryly about a study of fish and plants in a radiology journal, we thought, “Aha, someone is trying to create another red herring!”

But alas, it turns out the reason a journal normally concerned with X-rays would suddenly be interested in aquaponics was far more prosaic: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 13th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Authors retract two plant biology papers over duplicated images

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Plant scientists have issued two retractions after noticing several images had been duplicated within and across the papers.

The papers both appeared in March 2002 in The Plant Cell and The Plant Journal.

The last author on both papers — Jonathan Jones, a professor and group leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK — took responsibility for the duplications. He told us:

As last author I was responsible for checking the papers but did not notice the similarities between figures in the different papers.  I regret this and took action as soon as I realized there was an issue. Both papers went through peer review and the issue was not picked up at that point either.

Susana Rivas, the first author on both papers, has collaborated with beleaguered plant scientist Oliver Voinnet — and was a second author on one of his eight retractions (which we covered here).

The editor-in-chief of TPJ Christoph Benning said that, after the authors contacted them, the journals looked into the issue, confirmed the duplications and then retracted the papers: Read the rest of this entry »

“Clumsy but genuine errors” prompt PNAS correction

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Some accidental mistakes have led researchers to issue a long correction to a 2016 PNAS paper.

According to the notice, when the cell biology paper’s corresponding authors became aware of duplications in two images, they immediately notified the journal and the University of Nottingham. After examining the original data archives, the university found that the authors generated the correct images, but the person who prepared the figures selected the wrong images from the data archive.

According to John Atherton, faculty pro-vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham in the UK, who oversaw the investigation: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

June 1st, 2017 at 9:30 am