Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘pnas’ Category

Fast-tracked PNAS papers are cited less often — but gap is shrinking

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PNASAn analysis of more than 50,000 papers submitted to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that those published using its “contributed track” — in which academy members can fast-track their own papers by coordinating the peer-review process themselves — have been cited less often than regular submissions, but that gap is shrinking.

Although the overall average difference in citations between contributed and regular submissions was 9%, the yearly difference has declined from 13.6% in 2005 to 2.2% in 2014, according to the new study, posted before peer review on the preprint server bioRxiv by Phil Davis, an independent researcher and publishing consultant based in New York.

The contributed track is a long-standing editorial practice of PNAS, which has triggered concerns from some academics that say Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

January 15th, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Five years after a retraction, company’s stock is up more than 500%

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wntloggawntresearchwebny1Is ethical behavior good for business?

Five years ago this month, Swedish pharmaceutical company WntResearch immediately notified shareholders when authors retracted a 2009 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) paper on a potential cancer therapy that was key to the company’s business.

At the time, the company’s decision to disclose the retraction hurt its finances, as WntResearch delayed its planned initial public offering for three weeks. It also offered investors and shareholders the opportunity to withdraw their shares of WntResearch stock.

But, aside from one of the paper’s co-authors, “No one did that,” Nils Brünner, WntResearch’s CEO, told us. Since the company’s IPO on December 17, 2010, its stock price has increased from Read the rest of this entry »

First author refuses to sign PNAS retraction after “key findings” are not reproduced

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Two out of the three authors of a PNAS paper on mutations underlying lung diseases are pulling it after failing to reproduce key findings.

The paper, published in 2012, investigated how mutations in lung surfactant genes induce molecular changes that lead to lung pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer might work. But follow-up work revealed problems. In the retraction note, last author Christine Kim Garcia and second author Christoper Cano, both at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, write:

Current members of the C.K.G. laboratory are unable to reproduce key findings reported in the paper.

Here’s the retraction note in full:

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

PNAS paper on dengue virus pulled due to contamination

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PNAS_ak11smThe authors of a paper on dengue virus vaccine design published last year in PNAS are retracting it after discovering that their experimental dengue virus was contaminated.

Although they are confident that the strategy is sound, the authors write in their commendably detailed retraction notice that the “inadvertent error” rendered the results “uninterpretable.”

Here’s the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alla Katsnelson

May 12th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Second paper for Duke lung researchers expires in a retraction

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pnas 3 5 13Scientists at Duke and the National Institutes of Health have retracted a PNAS paper on asthma treatment after realizing the data from two sources didn’t match, and “most primary data” from several experiments were missing.

The mix up seems to have come from the pulmonary function laboratory that tested how well asthmatic patients’ lungs were functioning on an experimental anti-inflammatory therapy. As the authors say in the retraction note: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

April 6th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Authors retract PNAS Epstein-Barr virus paper for “anomalous and duplicated” figures

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pnas 2515PNAS has retracted a paper on the cancer-causing Epstein-Barr virus just two months after publication, in a notice that fingers a now-former graduate student for manipulating figures.

The paper tries to explain how Epstein-Barr virus blocks the immune system’s attempts to destroy it. According to the notice, the three “nonexperimentalist authors” – identified in the paper as two P.I.’s from University of Texas at Austin and one from the University of California, San Francisco – didn’t know the figures “were not reflective of original Northern blot and immunoblot data.”

That leaves UT Austin PhD student Jennifer Cox under the bus. Her LinkedIn says she pursued a PhD from 2010-2015, though it’s unclear if she’s received a degree. Cox’s name is at the top of P.I. Christopher Sullivan’s list of past lab members, and she’s the only one on the page whose name doesn’t hyperlink to additional information, such as a contact.

The school issued a press release about the study that quoted Cox, which has been removed from the UT site but is still available on Science Daily: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract 2007 PNAS paper on aging due to figure’s “unintentional anomalies”

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pnas 2515The authors of a 2007 PNAS paper that provided molecular details for how calorie restriction may act on Sir2 enzymes to extend life are now retracting their research after discovering a figure was compromised by “several unintentional anomalies in the background image.”

According to study author David W. Piston at Vanderbilt University, first author Qinghong Zhang cut and pasted images together to beautify a figure showing how a form of sugar affects the expression of SIRT1, the mammalian version of the Sir2 enzyme: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 4th, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Authors retract PNAS paper questioned on PubPeer after original films can’t be found

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pnas31912PubPeer leads the way again: The authors of a paper about Parkinson’s disease in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) have retracted it, several months after a commenter highlighted the exact issue that led to the article’s demise.

The paper, originally published in September 2013, was called into question by a commenter on PubPeer in July 2014, who identified two of the paper’s figures as duplications: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

October 23rd, 2014 at 10:30 am

Doing the right thing: Authors retract PNAS paper when new experiments show “conclusion was incorrect”

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pnascoverResearchers in Sweden and Australia have retracted a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) after follow-up experiments disproved their conclusions.

Here’s the notice for “Dominant suppression of inflammation by glycan-hydrolyzed IgG,” which is signed by all nine of the paper’s authors: Read the rest of this entry »