Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘duplication retractions’ Category

Drip, drip: UCLA investigation finds more image duplications

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Image duplications and unsupported data continue to plague a network of cancer researchers that includes the former vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Los Angeles, James Economou.

On July 2, the editors at Cancer Research retracted a 2011 paper that Economou published as last author, saying it suffered from image duplication and unsupported figures. This is the second retraction we’re aware of to come out of an investigation by UCLA’s Office of Research Policy and Compliance that has touched this group of scientists.

Here’s the notice for “Molecular Mechanism of MART-1+/A*0201+ Human Melanoma Resistance to Specific CTL-Killing Despite Functional Tumor–CTL Interaction,” which says the retraction comes at the request of UCLA: Read the rest of this entry »

What a report into scientific misconduct reveals: The case of Frank Sauer

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Oct. 3, 2011, was the beginning of the end for Frank Sauer’s tenure at the University of California, Riverside. On that day, an anonymous emailer contacted Sauer’s institution with accusations that the biochemist had cooked his research in at least eight papers over a 16-year period.

Sauer was found to have doctored images in studies using government money — nearly $3 million of it. He went on to lose his position at UC Riverside, several papers to retraction, and, in May, a subsequent legal battle over the severity of the federal sanctions. Along the way, he concocted a fantastic tale of sabotage against German scientists (like himself), replete with poison-pen letters and fabricated credentials. 

Retraction Watch has obtained a copy of UC Riverside’s report on the Sauer case through a public records request. The report, which is undated but which describes committee meetings and interviews from October 2011 to October 2012, lists 33 allegations of scientific misconduct against Sauer, 20 of which the committee determined to involve deception. Of the remaining 13, the committee either could not find proof of guilt or determined that the data were legitimate.

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Science journal flags cancer paper under investigation for image manipulation

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Science Signaling has issued an expression of concern for a 2016 paper, citing an institutional investigation into image manipulation.

According to a spokesperson for the journal, the corresponding author, Tanya Kalin, became concerned that two images in the paper had been manipulated. Kalin then notified the research integrity officer at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she is based.

On May 9 2017, Kalin alerted the journal to the investigation. A week later, the hospital’s research integrity officer followed up with the journal, flagging the figures under question.  The journal then prepared an expression of concern (EOC) to alert readers to the issues and the institution’s investigation.  

Here’s the EOC notice for “The transcription factor FOXF1 promotes prostate cancer by stimulating the mitogen-activated protein kinase ERK5:” Read the rest of this entry »

Diabetes researcher who sued to prevent retractions now has 13

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A diabetes researcher who sued a publisher to protect several papers from being retracted recently received his 13th, in a prestigious gastroenterology journal.

Mario Saad, based at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil, has had a string of retractions over the past few years, including four in Diabetes after he lost a legal battle with the American Diabetes Association.

The latest retraction appears in Gastroenterology, citing possible image duplication. Saad is second-to-last author on the 2012 paper.

According to the retraction notice, the journal investigated data in several figures, and believes some were duplicated. The authors explained that the duplications resulted from inadvertently using wrong blots; still, the editors chose to retract the paper after determining they no longer had confidence in its conclusions.  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Obesity-Induced Increase in Tumor Necrosis Factor-α Leads to Development of Colon Cancer in Mice:” Read the rest of this entry »

Nature Chemistry issues its first retraction

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For the first time in its eight-year history, Nature Chemistry has retracted a paper, citing “data integrity issues.”

The 2010 paper, which explored how various iron-based molecules interact with water and ethanol, was withdrawn after the authors uncovered possible duplication in two images.

According to the retraction notice, the authors could not provide the raw data to confirm their findings and could not reproduce the figures because the experimental set-up had been dismantled. The authors subsequently requested the paper be retracted because the issues undermined “our full confidence in the integrity of the study.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Charge transfer to solvent identified using dark channel fluorescence-yield L-edge spectroscopy”: Read the rest of this entry »

Nature retracts paper by stem cell scientist appealing her dismissal

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Susana Gonzalez

A once-rising star in stem cell biology — who recently lost both her job and a sizable grant — has had a fourth paper retracted.

The notice — issued by Nature for a 2006 letter — cites duplicated images, and a lack of raw data to verify the findings. First author Susana Gonzalez — who was dismissed from her position at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Spain last February over allegations of misconduct — couldn’t be reached by the journal.

Here’s the full text of the retraction notice:

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The retraction countdown: How quickly do journals pull papers?

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After Tina Wenz was found guilty of scientific misconduct, how long did it take for journals to retract the problematic papers?  The answer: Between three and nine months.

In September 2016, the University of Cologne found that Wenz had committed scientific misconduct in six papers and requested they all be retracted. From that point on, the retraction clock was ticking.

We’ve explored how long it takes a journal to act over the years, and we’ve found that the time between identifying a problem to retracting the paper can vary — and sometimes last years.

In Wenz’s case, one of the papers—published in Cell Metabolism in 2009—had already been retracted in 2015. Three of the remaining five were retracted in December 2016—a 2008 paper in Cell Metabolism, a 2009 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), and a 2009 paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

In January 2017, the journal IUBMB Life pulled a 2014 paper flagged in the investigation. And just over nine months after Wenz was found guilty of misconduct, the last paper—published in 2013 in Mitochondrion—has been retracted.

The most recent notice states that the University of Cologne requested the retractions, after determining that the data had been “inappropriately manipulated.”

Here’s the retraction notice in Mitochondrion:

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How much text recycling is okay?

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Are there a limited number of ways to describe the the background and methods of an experiment? Once something has been written well, and vetted by editors, is it a waste of time to rewrite it ? And if text has been reused, how should that be indicated — if at all?

These are questions we’ve asked before — and are revisiting after reviewing a pair of commentaries published earlier this year in Research Integrity and Peer Review. We’ve certainly seen our fair share of retractions due to duplication (so many we can’t cover them all) — but in one commentary, Cary Moskovitz — the Director of Writing in the Disciplines at the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University — argues that some text recycling — aka, “self-plagiarism” or duplication — is sometimes unavoidable, and, in some situations, even preferable. He told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

July 6th, 2017 at 8:00 am

German institute sanctions director after finding him guilty of misconduct

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The executive board of the Leibniz Association in Germany has reprimanded the director of its institute on aging for “grossly negligent scientific misconduct.”

Besides a written reprimand, the executive board has removed Karl Lenhard Rudolph’s “passive voting rights” in association committees, and excluded the institute under his leadership from receiving funds from a multi-million Euro internal funding competition, both for a period of three years.

The executive board identified problems in eight out of 11 reviewed papers, published between 2001 and 2016; it has asked Rudolph to retract one and issue errata for the others. The papers — some of which have been discussed on PubPeer — appear in journals such as Cell, Nature Cell Biology, and the EMBO Journal, and have been collectively cited 552 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

Rudolph is the director of one of the 91 independent research institutions that make up the Leibniz Association. He told us he is putting the position of Director of the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) in Jena “on hold” while he investigates the allegations:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 20th, 2017 at 11:39 am

Journal flags cancer paper from Karolinska researchers

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A journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a 2011 cancer paper, while Karolinska Institutet investigates “concerns” about some of the data.

After the Journal of Cell Science (JCS) received a tip from a reader, it investigated, but was unable to resolve the concerns. So the journal asked KI–where all the authors work–to investigate further, and issued an EOC to alert readers that there may be an issue with the paper.

According to the notice, the questions center on data from Fig. 1A, but the notice does not specify the nature of the concerns. The 2011 paper received a correction in 2016, which cites inadvertent figure duplication.

Earlier this year, the paper’s last author Boris Zhivotovsky and second author Helin Vakifahmetoglu-Norberg retracted a 2008 paper from Oncogene over potential image duplication. That retraction caught our attention because it was prompted by a 2016 correction to the paper, which had raised additional questions about potential duplication; ultimately, the authors retracted both the paper and its correction.

Here’s the expression of concern for the 2011 JCS paper: Read the rest of this entry »