Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘uk retractions’ Category

Science flags immune-boosting paper under investigation

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F1.mediumScience magazine has issued an expression of concern for a paper on the discovery of a new immune-boosting protein. The paper’s findings, which received some press coverage when they came out last spring, are now under investigation by Imperial College London.

The expression of concern follows a correction noting a Western blot mix-up. Science Editor in Chief Marcia McNutt told us last month that the mistake resulted from “carelessness” on the part of the authors. But now, an investigation at Imperial College London — where Philip Ashton-Rickardt led the research — is formally looking into the findings.

That investigation is ongoing, according to the expression of concern (signed by McNutt):

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Having non-replicable data may not hurt your rep, says study

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plosoneAlthough many scientists fear putting their data to the test of replication efforts, due to the embarrassment they’d feel if their findings couldn’t be repeated, a new study suggests those fears are unfounded.

The paper, published last week in PLOS ONE, found that scientists overestimate how much having non-replicable data will hurt their careers, and the community values those who are honest about what went wrong.

Specifically, as the authors note:

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Written by Alison McCook

December 14th, 2015 at 9:30 am

My life as a whistleblower: Q&A with Peter Wilmshurst

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We’re presenting a Q&A session with Peter Wilmshurst, now a part-time consultant cardiologist who has spent decades embroiled in misconduct investigations as a whistleblower.


Peter Wilmshurst

Retraction Watch: A UK judge recently upheld two findings of dishonesty by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service against Andrew Dowson, director of headache services at King’s College Hospital and your former co-investigator. Were you pleased with the verdict? (Last week, Dowson also began a four-month suspension from practicing medicine in the UK.) 

Peter Wilmshurst: In part, because I was pleased that he was shown to be dishonest, because I knew that he was, which was why I reported him. But I wasn’t pleased in the sense that I don’t think the investigation dealt with all the issues involved in the Migraine Intervention with STARflex Technology (MIST) Trial.

RW: What additional issues did you hope to see addressed? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

December 7th, 2015 at 11:34 am

“Carelessness” forces Science to correct paper about immune booster

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F1.medium (1)

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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