Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘not reproducible’ Category

Author asks to retract nearly 20-year old paper over figure questions, lack of data

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journal-of-biological-chemistryThe last author of a 1999 paper has asked the journal to retract it less than one month after a user raised questions about images on PubPeer.

Yesterday, last author Jim Woodgett posted a note on the site saying the author who generated the figures in question could not find the original data, and since he agreed the images appeared “suspicious,” he had contacted the journal to retract the paper.

Here’s the note from Woodgett, based at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum
Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract 2016 cancer study when data don’t align with figures

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cell-death-and-differentiationResearchers have retracted a 2016 cancer study, citing discrepancies between the data and images presented in the paper. 

Although the retraction notice itself contains relatively little information, we’ve obtained a letter from the last author — Jun-Li Luo of The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida — to the editor-in-chief of Cell Death and Differentiation that says a bit more. 

According to the letter, after receiving the anonymous email, Luo conducted an investigation, contacting co-authors who contributed each of the figures in question. Although Luo writes that he has no reason to suspect fraud, the researchers were not able to provide some of the original data.

PubPeer commenters have questioned figures 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the study, “IKKα-mediated biogenesis of miR-196a through interaction with Drosha regulates the sensitivity of cancer cells to radiotherapy.”

In the letter, Luo tells Gerry Melino, co-editor-in-chief of the journal from the University of Leicester, UK, that figures 3D and 3E were provided by the study’s first author, Xing Fang, adding: Read the rest of this entry »

How can we improve preclinical research? Advice from a diabetes researcher

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Daniel Drucker

Daniel Drucker

By all accounts, science is facing a crisis: Too many preclinical studies aren’t reproducible, leading to wasted time and effort by researchers around the world. Today in Cell Metabolism, Daniel Drucker at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto details numerous ways to make this early research more robust. His most important advice: more transparent reporting of all results (not just the positive findings), along with quantifying, reporting, tracking, and rewarding reproducibility, for both scientists and journals and universities/research institutes.

Retraction Watch: Which of your recommendations will researchers most object to, and why? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 13th, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Nutrition study pulled after statistical flaws emerge

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Nutrition JournalA paper that suggested that eating flaxseed could reduce inflammation in men at risk of heart disease has been retracted, after researchers pointed out the paper’s flaws.

The retraction is part of a large initiative on the part of nutrition researcher David Allison and colleagues to clean up the literature, which we’ve previously covered. Regarding this paper, he told us:

When we looked at the study…it was very clear that the statistical methods used were not correct. These are not matters of debate or opinion, these are just…verifiably incorrect.

The Nutrition Journal published the paper in January 2015, and retracted it in June 2016, one day after publishing a letter by Allison and a colleague critiquing the paper

Here’s the retraction notice for “Impact of weight loss diet associated with flaxseed on inflammatory markers in men with cardiovascular risk factors: a clinical study:” Read the rest of this entry »

Publishing needs more science, fewer stories: Q&A with founders of ScienceMatters

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Lawrence Rajendran

Ever wish you could just publish an exciting result, without having to wait for the entire string of data that follows in order to tell an entire story, which then gets held up for months by peer review at traditional journals? So do a lot of other researchers, who are working on ways to sidestep those barriers. One new project: ScienceMatters, a publishing platform where scientists can submit single, robust results for relatively quick peer review. We spoke with co-founders Lawrence Rajendran and Mirko Bischofberger about how this new next-generation journal platform works, and why it’s important.

Retraction Watch: You accept “only single observations, properly conducted and robustly validated.” Why did you want to restrict your publications to something so specific, and relatively narrow? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

June 27th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Trump vs. trump: Does the candidate affect the use of trump cards in Bridge?

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Jonathan Falk

Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelman

Did that headline make sense? It isn’t really supposed to – it’s a sum-up of a recent satirical paper by Columbia statistician Andrew Gelman and Jonathan Falk of NERA Economic Consulting, entitled “NO TRUMP!: A statistical exercise in priming.” The paper – which they are presenting today during the International Conference on Machine Learning in New York City – estimates the effect of the Donald Trump candidacy on the use of no wild cards (known as trump cards) in the game of bridge. But, as they told us in an interview, the paper is about more than just that.

Retraction Watch: You have a remarkable hypothesis: “Many studies have demonstrated that people can be unconsciously goaded into different behavior through subtle psychological priming. We investigate the effect of the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency on the behavior of the top level of American bridge players.” Can you briefly explain your methodology, results and conclusions?  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

June 24th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Authors pull Nature paper about DEET and flies

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Nature CoverAuthors have retracted a Nature paper which identified neurons that render flies sensitive to a potent insect repellent, after losing confidence in the findings. The first author, however, said she does not agree with the retraction, noting that she continues to believe the data are correct.

According to the notice, the remaining authors say they no longer support the claim that certain neurons in the antennae of fruit flies are repelled by DEET, the active ingredient in many insect repellents. The last author told us some of the paper’s results are not in doubt; nevertheless, he added, the paper would not have been published in Nature without the key conclusion, so he and most of his co-authors have pulled the paper in its entirety.

Alongside the retraction, the journal has also published a Brief Communications Arising article by scientists who were unable to reproduce the paper’s findings.

Here’s the retraction notice, published today:
Read the rest of this entry »

JAMA authors retract (and replace) paper about moves and kids’ mental health

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JAMAJAMA authors have retracted — and replaced — a 2014 paper about the mental health effects of household moves on kids, after they found errors while completing an additional analysis.

The original paper concluded that in “families who moved out of high-poverty neighborhoods, boys experienced an increase and girls a decrease in rates of depression and conduct disorder,” according to a press release issued by the journal along with the paper (which also got some press attention from Reuters). But part of that conclusion is wrong.

The authors write in a notice for “Associations of Housing Mobility Interventions for Children in High-Poverty Neighborhoods With Subsequent Mental Disorders During Adolescence” that:

Read the rest of this entry »

How does Jeremy Berg plan to address reproducibility in Science?

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Jeremy Berg

Jeremy Berg, via AAAS

The former director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the U.S. National Institutes of Health has a new job. On July 1st, biochemist Jeremy Berg will take the helm as the editor-in-chief of Science. He’s currently the associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning in the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. We spoke to him about challenges he’ll be facing in his new role: treating science’s replication problem, boosting transparency, and making papers as widely available as possible.  

You told us in an earlier conversation that diagnosing and treating science’s replication problem is major issue in publishing. Can you give us some specifics about how you plan to address it at Science? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

June 14th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Misidentified cell line fells cancer paper

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Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 2.52.06 PMResearchers have retracted a paper about a new molecular target for cancer after realizing they had mistaken the identity of their cell line.

It’s all too easy to mix up cell lines, so we see plenty of retractions for that reason — and, according to an expert in the area, many more cases lurk uncorrected in the literature.

The retraction notice for “Knockdown of tumor protein D52-like 2 induces cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in oral squamous cell carcinoma” in Cell Biology International explains the authors’ perspective on this case:

Read the rest of this entry »