Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘nature publishing group’ Category

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 »

“Compromised” peer review hits three papers from Nature Publishing Group

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Nature Publishing Group is retracting three papers today, after an investigation found evidence the peer-review process had been compromised.

The publisher issued a statement saying they had notified corresponding authors and institutions associated with the three papers, which were all published last year in the journals Cancer Gene Therapy and Spinal Cord. 

Here’s the note that’s going on each of the papers, (they’re the same, except for the publication date):

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Cancer researcher cleared of misconduct, inquiry finds “genuine error or honest oversight”

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Levon Khachigian

An investigation at the University of New South Wales in Australia has determined that a long-accused cancer researcher did not commit misconduct.

The investigation did find instances when Levon Khachigian breached the code of conduct, but Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer research pioneer Robert Weinberg corrected Oncogene paper

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onc_cimageRobert Weinberg, a prominent cancer researcher at the Whitehead Institute, issued a correction to a paper in Oncogene in May, fixing two errors missed during proofing.

We found this one a little late, obviously. It also appears to be a relatively minor correction, not one that appears worthy of retraction. We’ve gotten feedback from readers asking why we cover corrections; we chose to flag this one because Weinberg has had such an impact on his field — he discovered the first tumor-causing gene in humans, as well as the first tumor-suppressor gene — and his papers are often highly cited. He also has issued five retractions in the past, most of which for papers whose first author was a member of his lab, who is not a co-author on the Oncogene paper.

Here’s the correction note for “Thrombospondin-1 repression is mediated via distinct mechanisms in fibroblasts and epithelial cells:”

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Written by Shannon Palus

December 14th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Cancer researcher contributed “false data” to 11 studies

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ori-logoA former cancer researcher has falsified data in 11 studies, according to the results of a investigation scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow.

The Office of Research Integrity’s findings are based on an inquiry at Virginia Commonwealth University, where Girija Dasmahapatra worked until July of this year, investigating possible therapies for cancer. The misconduct affected research funded by three grants from the National Institutes of Health. Steven Grant, a researcher at VCU, is the principal investigator on the grants, each of which total over $2 million in funding. All of the 11 affected papers will be corrected or retracted, according to the ORI notice.

Two of the papers containing “falsified and/or fabricated” data — a study on an experimental combination of drugs for blood cancer and one on chemotherapies for rare forms of lymphoma  — were covered in press releases by VCU.

According to the notice in the Federal Register:

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Prominent nutrition researcher Marion Nestle retracting recent article

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jphp_journal_coverProminent nutrition expert Marion Nestle is pulling an opinion piece she recently co-authored in the Journal of Public Health Policy following revelations that the piece contained multiple factual errors and failed to reveal her co-author’s ties to one of the subjects of the article.

The article, “The food industry and conflicts of interest in nutrition research: A Latin American perspective,” was published October 29 and raised concerns about the conflicts of interest that can occur when a food company pairs with a public health organization. Specifically, the article critiqued the supposed relationship between the biggest beverage distributor in Guatemala and the leading Guatemala-based public health organization, aligned to distribute a fortified supplement for undernourished children.

However, after the paper appeared, Nestle learned they had misrepresented the relationship between the key parties, and failed to disclose that her co-author, Joaquin Barnoya, received “a substantial portion of his salary” from INCAP. Retracting the opinion was the best solution, Nestle wrote on her blog today: Read the rest of this entry »