Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘freely available’ Category

University finds falsified data in PNAS gene therapy paper, authors retract

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A university investigation has found falsified data in a 2011 paper about the side effects of a virus commonly used in gene therapy.

The authors are retracting the paper, but one co-author told Retraction Watch they stand by their main conclusions. According to Roland Herzog, a professor at the University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine and a co-author of the paper, the falsified data were related to a minor part of the paper.

The paper, “Activation of the NF-κB pathway by adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors and its implications in immune response and gene therapy,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in March 2011. All authors were affiliated with UF at the time; the handling editor, Kenneth Berns, is an emeritus professor at UF. The paper has been cited 50 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science. Read the rest of this entry »

Elsevier retracting 26 papers accepted because of fake reviews

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Elsevier has retracted 13 papersand says it will retract 13 moreafter discovering they were accepted because of fake reviews.

A spokesperson for Elsevier told us that the journals are in the process of retracting all 26 papers affected by the “peer-review manipulation” and “unexplained authorship irregularities.” Most share one corresponding author, a physical science researcher based in Iran. Read the rest of this entry »

PNAS retraction weakens theory that fish travel with siblings

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In 2016, researchers at Oregon State University published a paper in PNAS that surprised the research community. They showed that certain fish species travel with their siblings — even fighting against the currents of the Pacific Ocean to stay together.

Needless to say, the research community was skeptical, given how difficult a feat this would be. And their skepticism appears to have been warranted.

Recently, the authors — led by Su Sponaugle — retracted the paper, saying a re-analysis of their data using newly developed research tools has erased their confidence in the results. According to Sponaugle, the quick reversal was thanks to the new technology and open data sharing, which led their findings to be successfully challenged within months of publication. She said her team conducted the study with the “best available knowledge we had at the time,” including what they thought were the most advanced tools available to them: 

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Written by Andrew P. Han

December 21st, 2017 at 8:00 am

Author wins judgment against Elsevier in lawsuit over retraction

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The author of a 2009 commentary exploring “sexually specific infanticide” in bears has won a judgment against Elsevier for using “untruthful and unverified” language in a 2011 retraction notice.

The last author, Miguel Delibes, who filed the suit in 2014, explained that the judge ruled he should accept the journal’s decision to retract his paper, but “confirmed that my honorability had been damaged” by the false accusation in the original retraction notice. According to a new note on the paper from the publisher, the court required the journal to publish part of its ruling to correct the record. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

December 20th, 2017 at 10:30 am

”Definitely embarrassing:” Nobel Laureate retracts non-reproducible paper in Nature journal

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A Nobel Laureate has retracted a 2016 paper in Nature Chemistry that explored the origins of life on earth, after discovering the main conclusions were not correct.  

Some researchers who study the origins of life on Earth have hypothesized that RNA evolved before DNA or proteins.  If true, RNA would have needed a way to replicate without enzymes. The Nature Chemistry paper found that a certain type of peptide — which may have existed in our early history — made it possible for RNA to copy itself.

Jack W. Szostaka professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider for their pioneering research on aging—told us he was “incredibly excited” when he “thought we had at least a partial solution to this problem,” which researchers have been working on for over 50 years.  

But in subsequent experiments, Tivoli Olsen — a member of Szostak’s lab — could not reproduce the 2016 findings. When she reviewed the experiments from the Nature Chemistry paper, she found that the team had misinterpreted the initial data: The peptide in question did not appear to provide an environment that fostered RNA replication.

The errors were “definitely embarrassing,” Szostak told us: Read the rest of this entry »

When publishers mess up, why do authors pay the price?

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Springer has retracted two papers, which appeared online earlier this year in different journals, after discovering both were published by mistake.

A spokesperson at Springer explained that the retractions are “due to a human error.”

According to one of the retraction notices, published in Archive for Mathematical Logic, the paper had not yet undergone peer review and the author plans to resubmit his paper to the journal. The other retraction notice, published in Arabian Journal of Geosciences, simply states that an “error in the submission system” is to blame. Unfortunately, in both cases the authors now have a retraction on their record, seemingly through no fault of their own.

Neither notice indicates what publisher glitches led to the premature publications. We asked the spokesperson for clarity, but she did not elaborate. When asked whether Springer has made changes to prevent these errors from happening again, the spokesperson said:

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Written by Victoria Stern

December 5th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Journal bans author for three years after retracting paper with “serious ethical” problems

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An anatomy journal has banned a researcher from submitting papers for three years after determining one of his recently published papers suffered from “serious ethical” issues.

According to Jae Seung Kang, associate editor at the journal Anatomy and Cell Biology (ACB), the paper’s sole authorJae Chul Lee—falsified both his affiliation and approval for conducting animal experiments in the paper, published online in March.

Kang said the journal discovered the issues after Lee submitted other papers to the journal this past August. During the journal’s review process, it discovered “over 70% redundancy”—ie, plagiarism—between the newly submitted papers and two now-retracted papers—the ACB paper as well as a 2015 paper published in the Journal of Pathology and Translational Medicine, on which Jae Chul Lee was corresponding author. The issues prompted the journal to conduct “an in-depth investigation,” Kang said. Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: Don’t count your chicken (genes) before they’re hatched

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Molecular Characterization and Biological Activity of Interferon-α in Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)

What Caught Our Attention: Soon after the paper appeared, the journal was alerted to the fact its findings were at odds with others in the field. When the editor approached the authors, everything fell apart: The authors couldn’t repeat the experiments, and “were also unsure of the molecular probes that were used in the study.” While it isn’t unusual to have doubts about data — since since research is a process of experimentation — it is odd not to know how your experiment was conducted. The paper was retracted less than two months after it was published. The manuscript was accepted two months after it was submitted in early May, theoretically giving reviewers enough time to catch these issues (along with the authors’ failure to cite relevant papers).  

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Where’s the data? Authors can’t support figures in 2017 kidney paper

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Researchers have retracted a 2017 paper exploring a novel approach to treat kidney injury, because three images were “constructed inappropriately.”

That’s about as much as we know: The retraction notice provides few details about the nature of the issue, only that the authors—most of whom work at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey—could not provide the original data for the recently published figures.

The paper, published in American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology, was retracted October 1, just over four months after appearing online in mid-May. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

November 29th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: To know if someone’s been vaccinated, just asking isn’t enough

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Hepatitis B Virus Infection in Preconception Period Among Women of Reproductive Age in Rural China – A Nationwide Study

What Caught Our Attention: When researchers set out to study hepatitis B among women in rural China, and they wanted to know if the women had been vaccinated against the virus, they simply asked them. While that can sometimes be useful, apparently it was a mistake in this case, as the reliance on patient memory injected too much doubt into these findings.  Read the rest of this entry »