Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘nature publishing group’ Category

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A paper linking the fecal microbiome to obesity has been retracted after it became clear that one of the co-authors faked some of the data.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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Nature retracts paper six years after it was flagged for fraud

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cover_natureNature retracted a paper on protein structures today, six years after an investigation at the University of Alabama identified several structures that were “more likely than not falsified and/or fabricated” by one of the authors.

The paper came under scrutiny soon after it was published in 2006. A letter published in Nature that same year pointed out “physically implausible features in the structures it described.” That triggered the investigation at the University of Alabama, the result of which was published in 2009, identifying “nine publications related to the same protein structures that should be retracted from various scientific journals.” Everything was pinned on last author H.M. Krishna Murthy, who the investigation determined was “solely responsible for the fraudulent data.”

A 2009 Nature news article on the investigation declared that the “fraud is the largest ever in protein crystallography.”

We’re not sure what took Nature so long to retract the letter, titled “The structure of complement C3b provides insights into complement activation and regulation.” Here’s the note, which explains that not all the authors agreed to the retraction:

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Retraction published for nutrition researcher Marion Nestle

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journal_pubhealthFollowing her request last month, a public health journal has retracted a paper co-authored by prominent nutrition researcher Marion Nestle, after revelations of multiple factual errors and her co-author’s ties to one of the subjects of the article.

The article, an opinion piece, critiqued the supposed relationship between the biggest beverage distributor in Guatemala and the leading Guatemala-based public health organization, to distribute a fortified supplement (Manì+) for undernourished children. The relationship, the piece argued, raised concerns about the conflicts of interest that can occur when a food company pairs with a public health organization. But soon after publication, Nestle learned that she and her co-author Joaquin Barnoya had misrepresented that relationship, and failed to disclose that the public health organization was paying a portion of Barnoya’s salary.

Here’s the full retraction notice, published earlier this month by the Journal of Public Health Policy: Read the rest of this entry »