Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘corrections’ Category

Plague or anthrax on the subway? Think again, says now-corrected study

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Cell SystemsAuthors of a widely covered study that documented traces of plague and anthrax on surfaces across New York City have revised the paper after public health officials challenged their interpretations of the data.

It’s hard to overestimate the attention these findings received when first published.

Bubonic plague found in NYC subway,” wrote The Daily Beast.

Your subway seat mate: Bubonic plague, anthrax, & mysterious DNA,” said Yahoo!

NY subway has bubonic plague,” declared Newser.

Not so fast. In an erratum published July 29, the authors write: Read the rest of this entry »

Voinnet notches second retraction, two more corrections

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PNASOlivier Voinnet — a plant researcher who was recently suspended for two years from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) after an investigation by ETH Zurich and CNRS found evidence of misconduct — has issued his second retraction and two more corrections.

PNAS posted the retraction earlier this week for a 2006 article after an inspection of the raw data revealed “errors” in study images. Authors confirmed the issues in some figures and revealed “additional mounting mistakes” in others.

Voinnet has promised to issue retractions and corrections for every study that requires them. These latest notices bring our tally up to nine corrections, two retractions and one Expression of Concern.

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Author’s ties to NFL lead to correction for review that cast doubt on brain risk from sports

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PLOS ONE

A review paper that suggested the degenerative brain disease that’s striking former football players may not be tied to contact sports has been corrected to reveal the first author spent decades working for the National Football League.

The correction appears in a review in PLOS ONE about chronic traumatic encephalopathy the degenerative brain disease that was the basis of a $765 million settlement for former NFL players, along with a number of similar lawsuits. It fixes incorrect statements and adds conflicts of interest, including those with with first author Joseph Maroon, who spent more than 30 years working with the NFL and seven for the wrestling group the WWE.

It appears as if all the original paper declared was that Maroon was an “unpaid consultant” to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But apparently there was a lot more to it, according to the notice:

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Cell biologist Hanna issues two errata; images mysteriously disappear from Imgur

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Jacob Hanna

Jacob Hanna

Cell biologist Jacob Hanna, the highly cited stem cell researcher currently at the Weizmann Institute of Science,  has posted a long erratum for a 2005 paper in Blood for “inadvertent mistakes,” among other issues; soon after, Hanna’s team issued another erratum for a 2009 Cell Stem Cell paper.

There’s more to tell: Last month, commenters on PubPeer noticed that images from at least 10 of the research papers Hanna coauthored in seven journals — that commenters had posted on the image hosting website Imgur and linked to on PubPeer — had been deleted.

Imgur did not confirm whether these specific images had been deleted, but told Retraction Watch:

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Second correx for controversial paper on the financial benefits of climate change

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Journal of Economic PerspectivesThe Journal of Economic Perspectives has published a second correction for a 2009 paper that argued that some amount of global warming could lead to economic gains.

The author of “The Economic Effects of Climate Change,” Richard Tol, a professor of economics at the University of Sussex, blamed earlier problems with the paper on “gremlins.” In a notice posted last year, Tol wrote that “minus signs were dropped”; he also added a pair of “overlooked estimates” and several recently published studies.

After the first correction was published, several people contacted the JEP to point out more issues with the paper. Editors worked with Tol and outside researchers to update the paper again.

Here’s some text from the newest correction notice:

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HIV postdoc faked data in published paper, 2 grants

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Julia_B

Julia Bitzegeio

An HIV researcher has admitted to faking data in a published paper, a manuscript, and two grant applications, according to a notice released today by the the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

Former postdoc Julia Bitzegeio faked data in a 2013 paper, published in the Journal of Virology, about how HIV adapts to interferon. In the paper, “the manipulation was really minor,” Theodora Hatziioannouprincipal investigator of the lab at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC) in New York City where Bitzegeio worked, told Retraction Watch. “She just made cosmetic changes.”

The paper will be corrected, Hatziioannou said. Bitzegeio has left her lab, and her future is somewhat less clear:

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JAMA issues mega-correction for data breach letter due to “wording and data errors”

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s_cover_jcv062315A JAMA letter published in April on data breaches accidentally included some data that shouldn’t have been published, either — specifically, “wording and data errors” that affected five sentences and more than 10 entries in a table. One result — a reported increase in breaches over time — also went from statistically significant to “borderline” significant, according to the first author. (So yeah, this post earns our “mega correction” category.)

According to an author, an “older version” of a table made it into the letter, “Data Breaches of Protected Health Information in the United States,” which was corrected in the journal’s June 23/30 issue.

The letter and table in question detail 949 breaches of “unencrypted protected health information.”  The letter says the number of breaches has increased from 2010 to 2013; the original article claimed that the P value on that increase was <.001, but the correction says it’s really 0.07. The original says 29.1 million personal records were affected in those breaches; the real number is 29.0. And so on.

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To catch a cheat: Paper improves on stats method that nailed prolific retractor Fujii

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anaesthesiaThe author of a 2012 paper in Anaesthesia which offered the statistical equivalent of coffin nails to the case against record-breaking fraudster Yoshitaka Fujii (currently at the top of our leaderboard) has written a new article in which he claims to have improved upon his approach.

As we’ve written previously, John Carlisle, an anesthesiologist in the United Kingdom, analyzed nearly 170 papers by Fujii and found aspects of the reported data to be astronomically improbable. It turns out, however, that he made a mistake that, while not fatal to his initial conclusions, required fixing in a follow-up paper, titled “Calculating the probability of random sampling for continuous variables in submitted or published randomised controlled trials,” also published in Anaesthesia.

According to the abstract:

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Written by amarcus41

July 7th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Corrections (and one EoC) propagate for distinguished plant biologist, Olivier Voinnet

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Olivier Voinnet

Olivier Voinnet

There may be some deeply rooted issues in the work of high-profile plant biologist Olivier Voinnet, biology department research director at ETH in Zurich. Corrections have continued to pile up months after his work was hit with a barrage of criticism on PubPeer. We’ve tracked a total of seven corrections over the past five months (not including the April retraction of a 2004 paper in The Plant Cell). One of the corrected papers also received an Expression of Concern this week.

Collectively, the corrected papers have accumulated more than 1200 citations.

In January, Voinnet said he planned to correct multiple papers, after receiving “an anonymous email.”

One of the recent corrections we found is for a 2004 article in The Plant Journal, “An enhanced transient expression system in plants based on suppression of gene silencing by the p19 protein of tomato bushy stunt virus,” which details using proteins from a tomato virus to help alter gene expression. The study has been cited 862 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the correction notice, posted June 8:

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PubPeer Selections: correction for Cell paper on stem cells; why omit controls; peer review report surfaces

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pubpeerHere’s another installment of PubPeer Selections: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 26th, 2015 at 9:30 am