Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘nature publishing group’ Category

Corrections (and one EoC) propagate for distinguished plant biologist, Olivier Voinnet

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Olivier Voinnet

Olivier Voinnet

There may be some deeply rooted issues in the work of high-profile plant biologist Olivier Voinnet, biology department research director at ETH in Zurich. Corrections have continued to pile up months after his work was hit with a barrage of criticism on PubPeer. We’ve tracked a total of seven corrections over the past five months (not including the April retraction of a 2004 paper in The Plant Cell). One of the corrected papers also received an Expression of Concern this week.

Collectively, the corrected papers have accumulated more than 1200 citations.

In January, Voinnet said he planned to correct multiple papers, after receiving “an anonymous email.”

One of the recent corrections we found is for a 2004 article in The Plant Journal, “An enhanced transient expression system in plants based on suppression of gene silencing by the p19 protein of tomato bushy stunt virus,” which details using proteins from a tomato virus to help alter gene expression. The study has been cited 862 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the correction notice, posted June 8:

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Oncogene to retract breast cancer paper following years-old misconduct investigation

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Oncogene is retracting a 2010 paper on the molecular details of breast cancer cells as they undergo metastasis following an investigation that discovered the first author had committed misconduct.

The thing is, the investigation concluded in 2012, and the paper — “miR-661 expression in SNAI1-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition contributes to breast cancer cell invasion by targeting Nectin-1 and StarD10 messengers” — isn’t being retracted until next week.

According to Lucinda Haines, senior publishing manager at Nature Publishing Group, the paper will be retracted June 29.

We heard from Iris Behrmann, Head of the Life Sciences Research Unit at the University of Luxembourg:

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Columbia biologists “deeply regret” Nature retraction, after postdoc faked 74 panels in 3 papers

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natureA team of Columbia University biologists has retracted a 2013 Nature paper on the molecular pathways underlying Alzheimer’s disease, the second retraction from the group after a postdoc faked data.

An April report from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) found the a first author, former Columbia postdoc Ryousuke Fujita, responsible for “knowingly and intentionally fabricating and falsifying research in seventy-four (74) panels” in three papers: a 2011 Cell paper retracted in 2014, an unpublished manuscript, and this now-retracted Nature paper, “Integrative genomics identifies APOE e4 effectors in Alzheimer’s disease.”

The paper was touted in a Columbia University Medical Center press release as identifying “key molecular pathways” leading to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The paper fingered two potential molecular drug targets, as well.

Here is the full retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Nature retraction, resignation result after lung cancer cell lines “cannot be those specified”

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cover_natureUpon realizing they had experienced a case of mistaken cell-line identity, the authors of a 2014 Nature paper on lung cancer think “it prudent to retract pending more thorough investigation,” as they explain in a notice published Wednesday.

The problem seems to stem from more than just honest error, according to corresponding author Julian Downward, a scientist at the Francis Crick Institute in the UK.

In a 1,215 word statement, sent to us via the Director of Research Communications and Engagement at Cancer Research UK, which funds Downward’s research, Downward told us the backstory not presented in the journal’s retraction note:

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“Significant concerns” and formal investigation unwind Nature Nanotech sequencing paper

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NatureNanoFollowing “significant concerns” raised by outside researchers and a formal university investigation, a group of authors in Taiwan has retracted a Nature Nanotechnology paper on DNA sequencing after they “could not reproduce the results of the work,” or even provide “a complete set of raw data for the original experiments.”

The paper, “DNA sequencing using electrical conductance measurements of a DNA polymerase,” describes a technology to sequence single DNA molecules — a technique that the authors, all based at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan, suggest could be used to “cheaply and quickly” sequence DNA.

Concerns about the paper’s data were first raised in May 2013 by the community, according to an editorial from the journal. Then, the journal asked the university to investigate, says “Notes on a retraction”: Read the rest of this entry »

Author from China blames translation company for plagiarism in retracted vascular paper

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apjcpDo we need a “throwing vendors under the bus” category here at Retraction Watch?

Earlier this year, we reported on the retraction of a paper because of sloppy work by an outside lab. Now, we have the story of a retraction for “negligence” by a translator. Specifically, the author says the passages shared between the retracted 2015 vascular paper and another paper in EMBO Journal are a result of “negligence on the part of the translation company that I trusted to make my manuscript ready for submission.”

Here’s more from the notice in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, written by Yong Jiang, of Laboratory Medical College, Jilin Medical College, China: Read the rest of this entry »

Nature retracts epigenetics paper by author who lost two Science papers last year

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cover_natureFrank Sauer, formerly of the University of California, Riverside, has had a 2002 letter on epigenetics retracted from Nature due to “inappropriate image manipulation.”

Sauer had two papers retracted from Science last year following a university investigation. Here’s the Nature notice for “Histone methylation by the Drosophila epigenetic transcriptional regulator Ash1:” Read the rest of this entry »

Former Columbia postdoc faked Alzheimer’s research in Cell and Nature

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cover_natureRyousuke Fujita, a former Columbia University postdoc who admitted to having faked the findings of a 2011 Cell paper in a retraction notice last year, also faked the results of a 2013 Nature paper, according to a new report from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Fujita’s work, in conjunction with Asa Abeliovich, was widely hailed as a significant step forward, a way to turn skin cells into brain cells. But the story began falling apart when the Cell retraction said that he “acknowledged inappropriately manipulating image panels and data points, as well as misrepresenting the number of repeats performed.”

The ORI’s findings in the case also involve a 2013 Nature paper, “Integrative genomics identifies APOE ε4 effectors in Alzheimer’s disease,” and a paper never published. Fujita, according to the ORI: Read the rest of this entry »

David Vaux: Nature’s decision to add double-blind peer review is good, but could be better

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David Vaux, a cell biologist at the Walter + Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, explains how Nature could do more to remove bias from the peer review process. He previously wrote about his decision to retract a paper.


David Vaux

Last week, Nature announced that they are to offer authors of papers submitted to Nature or the monthly Nature research journals the option of having their manuscripts assessed by double-blind peer review, in which reviewers are blinded to the identity of authors and their institutions. Until now, papers sent to Nature, and most other journals, have been reviewed by a single-blind process, in which the reviewers know the identities and affiliations of the authors, but the authors are not told who the reviewers are. The goal of double-blind peer review is for submitted papers to be judged on their scientific merit alone, and thus to reduce publication bias.

While Nature should be applauded for this move, the way they have implemented it leaves room for improvement.

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Written by Alison McCook

February 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am

“The main improvements reported are invalid”: Quantum communication paper retracted

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scientificreportsA paper on quantum communication has been retracted for failing to address several important problems, making the conclusions invalid.

Quantum communication involves sending a series of photons in specific quantum states over fiberoptic cables. It’s a little like the 1s and 0s of traditional computing, but much more secure. If the photons are intercepted on their way to the intended target, the quantum states will change, and the recipients can know their information was accessed by other parties. This is especially interesting to governments with a lot of secret information to transmit: both China and the U.S. have programs to develop these networks.

The retracted paper was a discussion of how to efficiently send lots of quantum information from different sources through the same fiberoptic cables at once.

Here’s the notice for “Efficient Quantum Transmission in Multiple-Source Networks”: Read the rest of this entry »