Archive for the ‘Plant biology’ Category
A group of researchers in France has been forced to retract their 2002 article in the Journal of Virology after learning that the paper was marred by multiple image problems.
The paper, “P0 of Beet Western Yellows Virus Is a Suppressor of Posttranscriptional Gene Silencing,” came from the lab of Veronique Ziegler-Graff, a plant biologist at the University Louis Pasteur, in Strasbourg. The authors attribute some of the image problems to “genuine mounting mistakes,” and have repeated the experiments to confirm the conclusion, as have other labs. However, the researchers couldn’t find all the original data from the 2002 paper.
Although the retraction statement points the finger at the first author, Sebastien Pfeffer, the list of contributors includes , a frequent collaborator of Olivier Voinnet, a high-profile plant biologist whose work has come under intense scrutiny.
One paper published in 2012 was retracted — at the researcher’s request — for copying from a 2010 paper of his. In turn, both papers were duplicated in a paper that was published in 2016, and retracted a few months later. That 2016 paper borrowed from another paper published last year, which was quickly retracted after we contacted the journal.
These papers — by Dilip Kumar Das, listed at T. M. Bhagalpur University in India — were flagged in March by a PubPeer commenter.
In December, Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (PCTOC) retracted Das’s 2012 paper; here’s the retraction notice:
Gearóid Ó Faoleán, ethics and integrity manager at Frontiers, which publishes Frontiers in Plant Science, told us:
In accordance with our complaints protocol, the Field Chief Editor led the investigation that resulted in the decision to retract the paper.
According to the EOC notice in New Phytologist, two figures in the paper contained “some anomalies,” and the corresponding author has acknowledged that there are problems with the images.
According to the new retraction notice in The Plant Cell, some figures in the paper were manipulated, as well as “inappropriately duplicated and reused from a previous publication.” The authors assert that they believe the conclusions remain valid.
The journal has also issued two corrections that include some of the same authors — including one that cites inappropriate image manipulation.
A high-profile plant scientist who has been racking up corrections and retractions at a steady clip has had another paper — this one from Science — retracted.
The retraction, of a paper that had been previously corrected, is the eighth for Olivier Voinnet. According to the notice, the correction did not address all the figure problems with the paper, which “cannot be considered the result of mistakes.”
A few months ago, an author alerted us to two retractions — including one in PNAS — after realizing his team had been using plants affected by inadvertent genotyping errors for an entire year. He initially told us these were the only two papers affected, but more recently reached out to say he had to pull a follow-up article, as well.
Recently, Steven C. Huber contacted us about the newest retraction, noting he was submitting a notice to the editor of Plant Signaling and Behavior:
Plagiarism and duplication can be deadly to a paper in any dose. In the case of a study on the toxicity of nanoparticles to plants, the publisher has presented the precise amount of plagiarism and duplications that ultimately felled the paper.
Specifically, according to Nanomaterials, 56% of “Potential Impact of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Exposure to the Seedling Stage of Selected Plant Species” was taken from other work.
Here are more details from the retraction notice, published last year:
Cell will not be issuing corrections for three papers co-authored by prominent plant biologist Olivier Voinnet, after readers on PubPeer raised questions about some of the images.
The news may be a welcome relief for Voinnet, based at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, who has recently issued 22 corrections and seven retractions. Ongoing questions about his work have also earned him a three-year funding ban, and caused the European Molecular Biology Organization to revoke an award.
On July 28, Cell published editorial notes for all three papers, which have been collectively cited more than 1000 times (also reported by Leonid Schneider). The notes say that the journal will take “no further action,” noting that the authors of the papers informed Cell of the problems with figures, which do not appear to compromise the papers’ overall validity.
So from time to time we’ll compile a list of retractions that appeared relatively straightforward, just for record-keeping purposes.
Often, these seemingly straightforward retractions involve duplications, in which authors — accidentally or on purpose — republish their own work elsewhere.
Sometimes journals and authors blame this event on “poor communication,” our first example notes: