Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘plos one’ Category

Caught Our Notice: What if you find out a paper relied on expired herbal supplement?

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Exploration of inhibitory mechanisms of curcumin in lung cancer metastasis using a miRNA- transcription factor-target gene network

What Caught Our Attention: The researchers were studying how curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, can inhibit lung cancer metastases. But upon learning that the primary material had been expired at the time of testing (and realizing they were unable to repeat their experiments), the researchers pulled their paper. Expiration dates do have safety factors built in, but attention to such details is imperative in research.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

December 4th, 2017 at 11:00 am

PLOS ONE retracts two papers one year after author says he okayed the move

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PLOS ONE has retracted two 2014 papers from a group of researchers, after an institutional investigation confirmed image duplication. Although the authors initially asked to correct the figures in the two papers, they ultimately agreed with the decision to retract.

Mrinal K. Maitian associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur and corresponding author on the two now-retracted PLOS ONE papersalso corrected a 2016 paper published in PLOS ONE over figure-related errors. Maiti is the only author in common to all papers.

A spokesperson for the journal told us:
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Written by Victoria Stern

November 17th, 2017 at 11:05 am

Carlo Croce, facing misconduct allegations, accuses former colleague of misconduct

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Carlo Croce

Carlo Croce, a cancer researcher who has faced numerous research misconduct allegations, recently accused a former lab member of misconduct. Although an institutional probe did not support that allegation, Croce’s efforts have led to a retraction.

In November 2015, Croce and another cancer researcher at Ohio State University (OSU), Ramiro Garzon, contacted PLOS ONE, alleging that the paper’s corresponding author, Stefan Costinean, published data without their knowledge or permission and without “accurately acknowledging their contributions to the research.” Although the PLOS ONE paper mentioned Croce’s and Garzon’s contributions in the acknowledgements section, the two were not included as co-authors. We have obtained a copy of the report describing OSU’s preliminary probe; it did not find evidence of misconduct, but recommended the paper be retracted for using data without permission. Although Costinean disagreed, the journal has since retracted the paper.

Croce has been on the other side of this process: Seven of his papers have been retracted for issues including manipulation and duplication. After a New York Times article, published in March, explored misconduct allegations against Croce, OSU said the university is “instituting an independent external review.” Croce is currently suing the New York Times, alleging that the newspaper defamed him in the story.

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Caught Our Notice: 4th retraction for prominent physicist (with new funding) cites falsification

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Improved Cellular Specificity of Plasmonic Nanobubbles versus Nanoparticles in Heterogeneous Cell Systems

What Caught Our Attention: Nanotechnology researcher Dmitri Lapotko, whose work with lasers continues to catch media attention, has earned his fourth retraction.  As with the other three, the latest notice mentions an investigation at Rice University, but provides no specific information other than “data falsification” for images, and no indication as to the offending researcher(s). (In the past, Rice hasn’t even confirmed to us the presence of an investigation.) Only Laptoko and Ekaterina Lukianova-Hleb are common authors to all retractions. Despite these recent setbacks, Lapotko has not fared too badly in research funding.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

November 6th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Another retraction for researcher paid $100k to leave uni

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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:  Diabetes and Overexpression of proNGF Cause Retinal Neurodegeneration via Activation of RhoA Pathway  and  Diabetes-Induced Superoxide Anion and Breakdown of the Blood-Retinal Barrier: Role of the VEGF/uPAR Pathway 

What caught our attention:

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Case closed? Fired Pfizer researcher slated for seven retractions

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Pfizer has discovered two additional papers that merit retraction from the lab of a former employee. One of the papers, published in Clinical Cancer Research, was retracted earlier this month.

Last year, Pfizer requested retractions of five papers from the lab of breast cancer researcher Min-Jean Yin, who was fired after an investigation revealed image duplication. The papers were first questioned on PubPeer. By April 2017, all five papers had been retracted.

After the initial probe, the pharmaceutical giant conducted a follow-up review of papers originating from Yin’s lab (which Leonid Schneider posted about on May 23). A spokesperson for the company told us that the review revealed two more articles that merited retraction “in light of data integrity issues relating to the figures therein.” The 2013 paper in Clinical Cancer Research was retracted earlier this month at Pfizer’s request. On May 1, 2017, Pfizer asked PLOS ONE to retract 2013 paper. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

August 28th, 2017 at 8:13 am

PLOS ONE retracts paper after researcher admits to fabricating data

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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.)   Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

July 26th, 2017 at 8:00 am

NIH researcher doctored 11 figures in 2016 paper, says ORI

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A former Research Training Awardee at the National Institutes of Health “falsified and/or fabricated data” in 11 figures in a 2016 paper, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.

This is the first finding of misconduct issued this year by the ORI.

According to the finding, published in the Federal Register, Brandi M. Baughman — formerly at the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS) — tweaked data and text in a PLOS ONE paper about screening for compounds that inhibit an enzyme known as inositol phosphate kinase. According to the notice, however, some of those experiments didn’t proceed as described:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 19th, 2017 at 3:09 pm

PLOS upgrades flag on controversial PACE chronic fatigue syndrome trial; authors “surprised”

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PLOS ONE has issued an expression of concern after the authors of a controversial study about chronic fatigue syndrome declined to share some of their data.

In an unusual move, the journal included the authors’ response to the expression of concern (EOC), in which they strongly argue against the notice, and “do not accept that it is justified.”

In 2015, following public requests to review the data, the journal issued an “editor’s note” on the paper, noting the journal’s policy that authors make data and materials available.

There have been numerous requests for data from the “PACE” trial, as the clinical trial is known. Patients and advocates have long disputed the results, arguing that suggesting cognitive behavior and graded exercise therapy could cause harm.

In the latest notice, the journal says it consulted two editorial board members about the paper, a 2012 sub analysis of a controversial clinical trial on chronic fatigue syndrome. The journal then asked the authors to provide the data behind five tables, which would enable researchers to replicate the cost-effectiveness analyses the authors report for different therapies — including graded exercise therapy, which some patient advocates believe could be harmful.

As with previous requests for data, the authors refused to provide it, citing patient confidentiality and consent. The notice explains:

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Written by Alison McCook

May 2nd, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Fired Pfizer cancer researcher loses final two of five papers pegged for retraction

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PLOS ONE has retracted the last of five papers by a former employee of Pfizer, who the company fired after determining she had duplicated data.

After its investigation, Pfizer asked journals to retract five papers co-authored by Min-Jean Yin. Last week, PLOS ONE retracted the final two remaining papers. Both notices cite image duplications; Yin contacted the journal about one paper, but did not comment on the other retraction.

Here’s the notice for “miR-221 Promotes Tumorigenesis in Human Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells:”

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