Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘corrections’ Category

JACS corrects, removes author from previously flagged paper

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JACSA paper at the center of a high-profile case of alleged misconduct in Hong Kong has earned a correction notice.

The correction replaces an expression of concern on the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) paper, which followed allegations of data manipulation. It provides some un-cropped images, and removes a co-author from the paper. However, it does not appear to address previous allegations of misconduct, nor a recent ruling from an investigation at Hong Kong University (HKU), which found that some of the data were “invalid.”

Here is the correction notice for “Molecular Imaging of Peroxynitrite with HKGreen-4 in Live Cells and Tissues:”

Read the rest of this entry »

How should journals update papers when new findings come out?

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NEJM Logo

When authors get new data that revise a previous report, what should they do?

In the case of a 2015 lung cancer drug study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the journal published a letter to the editor with the updated findings.

Shortly after the paper was published, a pharmaceutical company released new data showing the drug wasn’t quite as effective as it had seemed. Once the authors included the new data in their analysis, they adjusted their original response rate of 59%  — hailed as one of a few “encouraging results” in an NEJM editorial at the time of publication — to 45%, as they write in the letter. One of the authors told us they published the 2015 paper using less “mature” data because the drug’s benefits appeared so promising, raising questions about when to publish “exciting but still evolving data.”

It’s not a correction, as the original paper has not been changed; it doesn’t even contain a flag that it’s been updated. But among the online letters about the paper is one from the authors, “Update to Rociletinib Data with the RECIST Confirmed Response Rate,” which provides the new data and backstory:

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Duplicated data gets corrected — not retracted — by psych journal

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Psychological Science

A psychology journal is correcting a paper for reusing data. The editor told us the paper is a “piecemeal publication,” not a duplicate, and is distinct enough from the previous article that it is not “grounds for retraction.”

The authors tracked the health and mood of 65 patients over nine weeks. In one paper, they concluded that measures of physical well being and psychosocial well being positively predict one another; in the other (the now corrected paper), they concluded that health and mood (along with positive emotions) influence each other in a self-sustaining dynamic.

As a press release for the now-corrected paper put it: Read the rest of this entry »

PLOS editors discussing authors’ decision to remove chronic fatigue syndrome data

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After PLOS ONE allowed authors to remove a dataset from a paper on chronic fatigue syndrome, the editors are now “discussing the matter” with the researchers, given the journal’s requirements about data availability.

As Leonid Schneider reported earlier today, the 2015 paper was corrected May 18 to remove an entire dataset; the authors note that they were not allowed to publish anonymized patient data, but can release it to researchers upon request. The journal, however, requires that authors make their data fully available.

Here’s the correction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 20th, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Structural biology corrections highlight best of the scientific process

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Nature_latest-coverIf you need evidence of the value of transparency in science, check out a pair of recent corrections in the structural biology literature.

This past August, researchers led by Qiu-Xing Jiang at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center corrected their study, first published in February 2014 in eLife, of prion-like protein aggregates called MAVS filaments, to which they had ascribed the incorrect “helical symmetry.” In March, Richard Blumberg of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues corrected their 2014 Nature study of a protein complex called CEACAM1/TIM-3, whose structure they had attempted to solve using x-ray crystallography.

In both cases, external researchers were able to download and reanalyze the authors’ own data from public data repositories, making it quickly apparent what had gone wrong and how it needed to be fixed — highlighting the very best of a scientific process that is supposed to be self-correcting and collaborative. Read the rest of this entry »

Retractions aren’t enough: Why science has bigger problems

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Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelman

Scientific fraud isn’t what keeps Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics at Columbia University in New York, up at night. Rather, it’s the sheer number of unreliable studies — uncorrected, unretracted — that have littered the literature. He tells us more, below.

Whatever the vast majority of retractions are, they’re a tiny fraction of the number of papers that are just wrong — by which I mean they present no good empirical evidence for their claims.

I’ve personally had to correct two of my published articles.   Read the rest of this entry »

Nature fixes highly cited paper suggesting food additives hurt the gut

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Nature_latest coverA 2015 study about dietary emulsifiers has been corrected by Nature after another researcher pointed out a few ambiguities.

When it first appeared, the study — which showed emulsifiers cause inflammation in the guts of mice — received a fair amount of media attention, including from Nature’s own news department. But since publication, a researcher noted some imprecision around the ages of mice used in the sample, affecting the paper’s calculations of weight gain over time. Andrew Gewirtz, co-author of the study from Georgia State University, told us the change did not affect the conclusions of the paper.

Here’s the corrigendum for “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome”: Read the rest of this entry »

Paper linking fecal transplants to obesity in rats retracted for faked data

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Diabetes Cover

A paper linking the fecal microbiome to obesity has been retracted after it became clear that one of the co-authors faked some of the data.

The 2014 paper in Diabetes — which found that rats given fecal transplants from obese mice were more likely to become obese themselves if given a particular diet — was pulled after after an institutional investigation found a co-author guilty of falsifying data underlying one figure and fabricating the data of two others.

Co-author Yassine Sakar — formerly based at the French National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) in Paris, France — was found responsible for the misconduct. But an official from the institution said that some responsibility must also be shared by the corresponding author Mihai Covosa, who has since resigned from the institution.

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

Einstein grad student admits cooking data, settles with Office of Research Integrity

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Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 1.05.49 PMOne Friday in January, graduate student Meredyth Forbes was reviewing material for her dissertation with her mentor when she decided to make a confession.

She “burst out with a statement that some of the data was fabricated,” said Edward Burns, research integrity officer at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where Forbes worked. It was, Burns told Retraction Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Does posting on PubPeer count as prior publication? Journal says yes, rejects letter rebutting campus sexual assault data

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Jim Hopper

Journals typically shy away from publishing data and text readers have seen before — but amidst the newly established norms of open science and data sharing, what counts as a prior publication?

We’re asking ourselves that question after learning that JAMA Pediatrics has rejected a letter rebutting a recent study in the journal about sexual assault on college campuses after deciding that posting the letter on PubPeer is a prior publication.

The submitted letter (which you can read here) was co-authored by independent consultant, therapist and researcher Jim Hopper, who is also a Teaching Associate in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. It concerned a 2015 paper published in JAMA Pediatricswhich suggested that the long-held belief that most rapists on college campuses are repeat offenders may be false. The findings can have major implications for university efforts to stop assaults, as institutions weigh whether to divert resources towards punishment (if serial offenders are largely responsible) or prevention (if most men only commit assaults once). Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

April 26th, 2016 at 2:00 pm