Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘image manipulation’ Category

Data manipulation flushes paper on gut bacteria

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cell reportsData manipulation in a Cell Reports paper blew the importance of a kind of bacteria out of proportion.

Retracted this month — less than three months after it was published — the paper showed, according to a summary on the cover page:

B. subtilis is a symbiont that resides in the gut of C. elegans and generates nitric oxide that is essential for the host. Xiao et al. demonstrate that nitric oxide promotes defense against pathogenic bacteria by activating p38 MAPK, demonstrating the importance of commensal bacteria in host immunity.

But B. subtilis — a member of the Bacillaceae family — aren’t actually as plentiful as they appeared, explains the retraction notice for “Gut-Colonizing Bacteria Promote C. elegans Innate Immunity by Producing Nitric Oxide:”

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Biologists earn 5th retraction following Swedish investigation

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plos pathA team of biologists have earned a fifth retraction for a paper containing manipulated images, following an investigation by the Swedish government.

Last year, the investigation found that former Uppsala University doctoral student Apiruck Watthanasurorot had manipulated figures in five papers, four of which have already been retracted. Earlier this year, we reported that his supervisor, last author Kenneth Söderhäll, had requested PLOS Pathogens simply correct the fifth paper because independent groups have confirmed the findings. But according to the retraction notice for “Bacteria-Induced Dscam Isoforms of the Crustacean, Pacifastacus leniusculus,” Söderhäll has since agreed to the retraction:

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Cancer paper that doctored image from Science story earns retraction

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lungcancercoverHere’s a joke for all you middle-schoolers out there. How are doctored images like bad pennies? They keep cropping up!

Here’s the latest one we’ve picked up: Lung Cancer has retracted a 2014 paper on the genetics of tumors after concluding the authors cribbed a figure that had appeared in a 2005 feature story in Science.

The paper, “ß-elemene against human lung cancer via up-regulation of P53 protein expression to promote the release of exosome,” drew attention on PubPeer last September from a reader who noticed striking similarities between one of the images the authors used and a figure in the Science piece (subscription required). According to the PubPeer commenter: Read the rest of this entry »

Stem cell researchers fix two papers following PubPeer comments

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Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 5.56.09 PMA pair of stem cell researchers have earned two corrections, the result of images that were mislabeled, distorted, or compiled incorrectly, according to the notices.

Kang Cheng prepared the gels when he was a research fellow in last author Sanjeev Gupta‘s lab at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Gupta told us he reviewed the original gels, and the errors didn’t affect the conclusions in the papers, which were reproducible. He noted he believes the problems are the result of honest mistakes:

The errors did not confer any benefits whatsoever either for the papers or for Dr. Cheng.

On PubPeer, commenters have raised questions about the now corrected papers — along with several others on which Gupta is the senior author, but Cheng is not a co-author.

Edward Burns, research integrity officer at Einstein, told us that the medical school looked into an allegation of misconduct against Gupta:  

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Plant biologist’s paper pulled for falsification, three more questioned on PubPeer

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PMBP Cover ImagePhysiology and Molecular Biology of Plants has retracted a paper about using Darjeeling tea clones against abiotic stress for problems with one of the figures.

The specific problem: “falsification/fabrication” of data underlying the figure, which the corresponding author — Sauren Das from the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta, West Bengal — couldn’t resolve. Das told us he denies the allegations made by the journal.

Meanwhile, three other papers by Das have been questioned on PubPeer

Let’s take a look at the retraction note: Read the rest of this entry »

Team in Japan earns third retraction for misconduct

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JSRA team of researchers has earned its third retraction after an investigation at Oita University in Japan found instances of misconduct in their research.

The most recent notice mentions the investigation, and specifies that the first author, Satoshi Hagiwara, was responsible for the problematic figures in the paper. Hagiwara is also the first author on two retracted papers we reported on last year; one of the earlier retractions also mentions the investigation, but does not assign responsibility to any particular author. All three papers share three authors.

The retraction notice for “Continuous Hemodiafiltration Therapy Ameliorates LPS-Induced Systemic Inflammation in a Rat Model,” published in the Journal of Surgical Research, explains the issues with the paper:

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Retraction count for Shigeaki Kato climbs to 39

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Shigeaki Kato

Shigeaki Kato

We’ve found another retraction for Shigeaki Kato, number seven on our leaderboard.

Our count for Kato has now risen to 39; we added five retraction notices to our count for Kato last month. These notices follow an investigation at the University of Tokyo, where Kato used to work, which found 43 papers contained “likely altered or forged materials,” according to a 2013 news article from The Asahi Shimbun.

Here’s the retraction note for “1alpha,25(OH)2D3-induced DNA methylation suppresses the human CYP271B1 gene,” published in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology:

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One in 25 papers contains inappropriately duplicated images, screen finds

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Elies Bik

Elies Bik

Elisabeth Bik, a microbiologist at Stanford, has for years been a behind-the-scenes force in scientific integrity, anonymously submitting reports on plagiarism and image duplication to journal editors. Now, she’s ready to come out of the shadows.

With the help of two editors at microbiology journals, she has conducted a massive study looking for image duplication and manipulation in 20,621 published papers. Bik and co-authors Arturo Casadevall and Ferric Fang (a board member of our parent organization) found 782 instances of inappropriate image duplication, including 196 published papers containing “duplicated figures with alteration.” The study is being released as a pre-print on bioArxiv.

An example the paper uses of “duplication with alteration” is this Western blot where a band has been duplicated: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

April 19th, 2016 at 5:30 am

Cancer researcher earns 3 more retractions following NIH misconduct investigation

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A researcher formerly based at the National Cancer Institute has earned three new retractions following an investigation that found she committed misconduct.

In May of last year, Stephanie Watkins, who now works at Loyola Medicineearned two retractions, which mention a review by an investigation committee at the National Institutes of Health. Two of the new notes, published in Cancer Research, mention the review as well, and cite data falsification in a figure as the reason for retraction. Watkins is the only author that did not agree to those retractions.

There may be more changes to the literature — an editor at another cancer journal told us the journal is awaiting a decision from the Office of Research Integrity before deciding what to do with a paper by Watkins, given that she does not agree with the misconduct charges.

We’ll start with a retraction note from Cancer Research:

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Image splicing, duplications, inversions kill paper for well-known longevity researcher and alum of lab

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Gizem Domnez

Gizem Donmez

A well-known scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies longevity has retracted a paper for “numerous examples of unindicated splicing of gel lanes,” as well as other problems.

This is Leonard Guarente‘s second retraction. He shares both with Gizem Donmez, an alum of his lab who now has three retractions. Donmez left her post as a Tufts professor in 2014.

Guarente told us in March — when we reported that he’d published a mega-correction on another paper — that he had planned to address issues with the paper, “SIRT1 Protects against α-Synuclein Aggregation by Activating Molecular Chaperones,” published in the The Journal of Neuroscience. Now, a retraction note has appeared “at the request of the authors.” It explains:

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