Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘nature publishing group’ Category

Nature fixes highly cited paper suggesting food additives hurt the gut

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Nature_latest coverA 2015 study about dietary emulsifiers has been corrected by Nature after another researcher pointed out a few ambiguities.

When it first appeared, the study — which showed emulsifiers cause inflammation in the guts of mice — received a fair amount of media attention, including from Nature’s own news department. But since publication, a researcher noted some imprecision around the ages of mice used in the sample, affecting the paper’s calculations of weight gain over time. Andrew Gewirtz, co-author of the study from Georgia State University, told us the change did not affect the conclusions of the paper.

Here’s the corrigendum for “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome”: Read the rest of this entry »

Researchers decry study warning of low-carb diet risks

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Nutrition and DiabetesAdvocates of low-carbohydrate diet are voicing concern about a recent paper that suggested the diet could cause weight gain, contrary to previous research. One expert has even called for its retraction.

The study, published in Nutrition & Diabetes in February, also found that the low-carb diet did little to prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have since criticized the study for drawing these conclusions based on data from a handful of mice, using a poor proxy for the human version of the diet.

One expert took to social media to warn against the study’s message regarding the low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF); for instance, obesity & nutrition researcher and author, Zoë Harcombe from Newport, Wales, tweeted: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

May 16th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Paper linking fecal transplants to obesity in rats retracted for faked data

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Diabetes Cover

A paper linking the fecal microbiome to obesity has been retracted after it became clear that one of the co-authors faked some of the data.

The 2014 paper in Diabetes — which found that rats given fecal transplants from obese mice were more likely to become obese themselves if given a particular diet — was pulled after after an institutional investigation found a co-author guilty of falsifying data underlying one figure and fabricating the data of two others.

Co-author Yassine Sakar — formerly based at the French National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) in Paris, France — was found responsible for the misconduct. But an official from the institution said that some responsibility must also be shared by the corresponding author Mihai Covosa, who has since resigned from the institution.

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

Raw files help fix 2003 figure by heart researcher accused of fraud

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7.cover

A researcher accused of misconduct by an anonymous Japanese blogger has corrected a 2003 paper in Circulation Research, after providing a university investigation with the original source files.

Allegations of fraud have dogged Shokei Kim-Mitsuyama for years, and even caused him to step down from his position as editor in chief at another journal. However, Kim-Mitsuyama and his colleagues call the latest correction a “mistake,” which didn’t affect any of the paper’s conclusions.

We’ve unearthed a total of five publications co-authored by Kim-Mitsuyama that have earned corrections, the latest of which cites an investigation by the university:

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Plant scientist Voinnet’s correction count grows to 22

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nature structure molecular biologyWe have found another correction for high-profile plant scientist Olivier Voinnet, bringing his total count to 22. Voinnet, who works at ETH Zurich, also has seven retractions, a funding ban, and a revoked award.

Voinnet’s most recent corrections involve problems with figures; the same issue is cited in this latest correction notice, for “Competition for XPO5 binding between Dicer mRNA, pre-miRNA and viral RNA regulates human Dicer levels.”

The correction notice in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, issued earlier this year, explains:

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Physicists retract Nature paper on Earth’s core after findings aren’t reproducible

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cover_naturePhysicists have retracted a highly cited paper from Nature on the behavior of electrons at the center of the Earth after other researchers could not reproduce their findings.

The 2015 paper earned coverage in Science News and Live Science, where co-author Ronald Cohen explained:

There was a big problem in how you generate a magnetic field, and now, because of our results, that problem has basically gone away.

Here are more details about what the original paper claimed, courtesy of a press release from The Carnegie Institution for Science, where co-authors Peng Zhang and Cohen work: Read the rest of this entry »

STAP stem cell researcher Obokata loses another paper

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Nature protocols

The first author of two high-profile Nature retractions about a technique to easily create stem cells has lost another paper in Nature Protocols.

Haruko Obokata, once “a lab director’s dream,” according to The New Yorker, also had her PhD revoked from Waseda University last fall.

After learning of concerns that two figures are “very similar” and “some of the error bars look unevenly positioned,” the rest of the authors were unable to locate the raw data, according to the note. The journal could not reach Obokata for comment before publishing the retraction.

Reproducible subcutaneous transplantation of cell sheets into recipient mice” has been cited 21 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. It was published in June 2011, soon after Obokata earned her PhD. 

Here’s the note:

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Want to correct the scientific literature? Good luck

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David Allison

David Allison

Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown

If you notice an obvious problem with a paper in your field, it should be relatively easy to alert the journal’s readers to the issue, right? Unfortunately, for a group of nutrition researchers led by David B. Allison at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, that is not their experience. Allison and his co-author Andrew Brown talked to us about a commentary they’ve published in today’s Nature, which describes the barriers they encountered to correcting the record. 

Retraction Watch: You were focusing on your field (nutrition), and after finding dozens of “substantial or invalidating errors,” you had to stop writing letters to the authors or journals, simply because you didn’t have time to keep up with it all. Do you expect the same amount of significant errors are present in papers from other fields? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

February 3rd, 2016 at 1:00 pm

EMBO takes back Voinnet’s award, investigates other awardee who just lost a Nature Genetics paper

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Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.41.20 AMEMBO has taken back an award given to beleaguered plant biologist Olivier Voinnet in 2009, and is investigating a recent grantee who had a paper retracted from Nature Genetics yesterday.

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) “promotes excellence in the life sciences” in Europe, in part by awarding prizes to promising young scientists. Voinnet and Sonia Melo earned their awards by exhibiting potential as young scientists studying genetics — of plants and cancer, respectively — but now EMBO is skeptical of the papers that formed the basis of their applications.

Melo’s Installation Grant from EMBO was announced just last month, and consists of 50,000 Euros annually for three to five years. She is currently based at the University of Porto, in Portugal.

Voinnet’s problems are well-documented on this blog — 21 corrections, seven retractions, and two investigations. Earlier this week, we reported that the Swiss National Science Foundation had cut off Voinnet’s funding, and banned him for three years. Read the rest of this entry »

Suspicions of data manipulation lead to correction of testicular cancer paper

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The corresponding author of a paper on testicular cancer is telling readers to discount a figure after she learned it may have been manipulated.

Although that one figure in the 2005 paper in the British Journal of Cancer may be problematic, the authors found data to support the other figures, and its conclusions.

This isn’t the first time first author Kerry Manton has faced questions over her data — in 2012, one of her papers was retracted following an investigation by her institution, the Queensland University of Technology. And in 2014, QUT repaid a $275,000 grant after finding Manton

failed to fulfill (her) responsibilities in relation to the responsible dissemination of research findings and that this, coupled with a failure to correct the errors, constituted research misconduct.

Here’s the corrigendum for “Hypermethylation of the 5′ CpG island of the gene encoding the serine protease Testisin promotes its loss in testicular tumorigenesis:”

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