Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘science (journal) retractions’ Category

High-profile Science paper retracted for misconduct

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Science has retracted a high-profile immunology paper after a probe concluded the corresponding author had committed misconduct.

The paper — which initially caught media attention for suggesting a protein could help boost the immune system’s ability to fight off tumors — has been under a cloud of suspicion since last year, when the journal tagged it with an expression of concern, citing a university investigation.

That investigation — at Imperial College London — has concluded that the paper contained problematic figures that were the result of research misconduct. All were prepared by last and corresponding author Philip Ashton-Rickardt, who took full responsibility. Even though the paper was published in 2015, some original blots and accompanying details have disappeared.

Today, the journal released a retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Eighth Voinnet paper retracted — this one from Science

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Olivier Voinnet

Olivier Voinnet

A high-profile plant scientist who has been racking up corrections and retractions at a steady clip has had another paper — this one from Science — retracted.

The retraction, of a paper that had been previously corrected, is the eighth for Olivier Voinnet. According to the notice, the correction did not address all the figure problems with the paper, which “cannot be considered the result of mistakes.”

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

After 10 years, a whistleblower is vindicated. Here’s why he kept going.

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Stefan Franzen

Stefan Franzen

Stefan Franzen doesn’t give up. Ten years ago, he began to suspect the data behind his colleagues’ research about using RNA to make palladium nanoparticles, a potentially valuable tool that ended up as a Science paper. Recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) decided to cut off funding for Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim — currently at the University of Colorado at Boulder — and last week, Science retracted the paper. We talked to Franzen, based at North Carolina State University (NCSU), about his decade-long efforts, and how it feels to be finally vindicated.

Retraction Watch: How did you first begin to suspect the findings by Eaton and Feldheim?

Stefan Franzen: Starting in early 2005, I was collaborating with Drs. Eaton and Feldheim at NCSU, thanks to two joint grants from the W.M. Keck Foundation and NSF. During a group meeting in December of 2005, a graduate student showed electron microscopy data that were inconsistent with the assignment of the particles as palladium. Over time, we kept producing more data that called their findings into question; in April 2006, a postdoc showed that the hexagonal particles could be obtained without RNA. By then, I could see that there was a significant discrepancy between what was written in the articles and what was done and observed in the laboratory.

RW: How did you report your concerns?

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After hesitating, Science retracts chemistry paper against authors’ wishes

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F1.mediumToday, Science has retracted a 2004 paper that’s been under scrutiny for years, despite the authors’ objections.

This paper has a long backstory: Recently, a report from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Inspector General surfaced that announced the agency had cut off the authors from funding. Last month, editor Marcia McNutt told us that the journal planned to retract the paper as soon as possible. Then, on January 21st, “just as we were going to press with the retraction,” said McNutt, the authors submitted a correction, which Science wanted to take some time to consider.

Now, the paper has a retraction note, against the wishes of authors Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim, currently at the University of Colorado.

Here it is the retraction note:

Read the rest of this entry »

Can a journal retract its plan to retract? Science may

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Science is reconsidering its plan to retract a paper about using RNA to make palladium nanoparticles after one of the authors submitted a last-minute correction.

Editor in chief Marcia McNutt told us that the journal will make a decision about whether to retract or correct the paper by February 5th.

We are not certain that what he submitted changes anything, but we wanted to consider this new information before acting.

In the meantime, today the journal issued an Expression of Concern for the paper.

The journal’s initial decision to retract the paper stemmed from an investigation at the National Science Foundation, which concluded that co-authors Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim — currently at the University of Colorado at Boulder — engaged in “a significant departure from standard research practices,” and cut them off from NSF funding unless they took specific actions. When the report on the investigation came to light earlier this month, Science editor in chief Marcia McNutt told us that she planned to issue a retraction:

We are checking to see how soon we can get it published.

McNutt explained what changed:  Read the rest of this entry »

Science retracting paper by chemists cut off from NSF funding

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Bruce Eaton

Bruce Eaton

feldheim

Daniel Feldheim

The National Science Foundation will no longer fund a pair of chemists who “recklessly falsified data,” according to a report from the NSF’s Office of Inspector General, unless they “take specific actions to address issues” in a 2004 Science paper.

That paper is going to be retracted as soon as possible, Science told us. The co-authors that the NSF reprimanded are Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim, now at the University of Colorado at Boulder; they have been under scrutiny since 2008, when an investigation at North Carolina State University, their former employer, found that the Science paper contained falsified data.

The paper, “RNA-Mediated Metal-Metal Bond Formation in the Synthesis of Hexagonal Palladium Nanoparticles,” has been cited 138 times.

Science Editor in Chief  Marcia McNutt told us today that a retraction is in the works:

Read the rest of this entry »

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):

Read the rest of this entry »

Science retracts physics paper after magnetic field wasn’t what it seemed

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F1.mediumScience has retracted an August paper on an interesting electric current researchers observed in a kind of material called a topological insulator. Well, a current the researchers — based at Stanford and MIT — thought they had observed.

A magnetic field with particular attributes reported in the paper seemed to provide evidence of the current. But the researchers soon discovered that the field might have been, in part, an artifact of the very device they used to detect it. The authors, along with a few other researchers, have published that subsequent finding on the physics preprint server, arXiv.

Here’s the retraction note:
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Authors pull Science paper on molecular wires for “inappropriate data handling”

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pic.mag.current-issueThis week’s issue of Science includes a retraction of a highly cited paper about manipulating the current in a string of molecules with a magnet, after an investigation by the co-authors revealed “inappropriate data handling” by the first author.

According to the note, the co-authors’ suspicions arose when they tried to follow-up on the data. Following a “thorough investigation,” they concluded that first author Rabindra N. Mahato had handled the data in such a way that they could no longer trust the conclusions. In the end, Mahato agreed to the retraction.

Here’s more from the note: Read the rest of this entry »

NSF investigation of high-profile plant retractions ends in two debarments

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Jorge Vivanco

Jorge Vivanco

A nearly ten-year-long series of investigations into a pair of plant physiologists who received millions in funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation has resulted in debarments of less than two years for each of the researchers.

The NSF Office of Inspector General recently posted its close-out report on its decision and a review of the University’s investigation, which had recommended a total of eight retractions or corrections. Although the investigator’s names have been redacted, the text of retractions and corrections quoted in the report corresponds to papers by Read the rest of this entry »