Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘corrections’ Category

Cropped, spliced image leads to a PLOS One correction

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Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 4.27.21 PMA PLOS One paper on morphine treatment for cancer cells has a couple issues with figures, prompting a massive correction — what we affectionately call a “mega-correction” — by the journal.

In one figure, there was “an undisclosed splice.” Another figure contained two panels that were “mistakenly from the same sample.”

The 2013 paper in question, “Chronic Morphine Treatment Attenuates Cell Growth of Human BT474 Breast Cancer Cells by Rearrangement of the ErbB Signalling Network,” has been cited four times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the correction:

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Written by Shannon Palus

November 27th, 2015 at 9:30 am

MD Anderson researcher Aggarwal up to six corrections

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cover (2)A highly cited cancer researcher at MD Anderson has notched three major corrections, all associated with problems in figures. One note cites “human error” as the cause.

Bharat Aggarwal is the last author on all three papers. He is now up to six corrections, two unexplained withdrawals, and two Expressions of Concern. He’s also threatened to sue us in the past, and has told us that his institution has been looking into his work.

Only one note specifies that the correction does not affect the paper’s conclusions.

First up: “Inhibition of growth and survival of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells by curcumin via modulation of nuclear factor-κB signaling,” published in the International Journal of Cancer and cited 168 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The issues span two figures, according to the erratum note:

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“Carelessness” forces Science to correct paper about immune booster

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Science is fixing images in a paper published online in April that discovered an immune-boosting protein, after the authors mistakenly mixed up similar-looking Western blots.

The paper, which received some press coverage, identified a protein that helped the immune system fight off cancers and infections. Philip Ashton-Rickardt, a scientist at Imperial College London who led the study, told the The Telegraph:

This is exciting because we have found a completely different way to use the immune system to fight cancer.

The editor in chief of Science, Marcia McNutt, told us that the journal contacted the authors once it learned of “irregularities” in some of the figures, which did not affect the conclusions of the paper:

Psychologist Jens Forster settles case by agreeing to 2 retractions

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Jens Förster

Following questions about the veracity of multiple papers by his former employer, high-profile social psychologist Jens Förster has agreed to retract two papers as part of a deal with the German Society for Psychology (DGPs).

Last year, Förster had a paper retracted at the request of his former employer, the University of Amsterdam (UvA). In May, an investigation commissioned by UvA found that many of his experiments looked “too good to be true,” and eight papers showed strong signs of “low veracity.”

Just two of those papers are acknowledged in the settlement of a case by the DGPs against Förster, who currently works at Ruhr University Bochum. Here’s a translation of a notice from the DGPs from One Hour Translation:

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When a paper is retracted, so is its previous correction–sometimes

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1-s2.0-S0968089612X0018X-cov150hSometimes, the path to correcting the scientific record takes a few turns. In the case of a paper about a new cancer compound, authorship issues led to a correction and, ultimately, a retraction — along with a double-back to retract the earlier correction.

We reported on the first part of the story back in January: A 2011 paper that described a novel compound that could work as a drug for the side effects of chemotherapy was corrected in 2012 to add additional authors. But once the authors realized their supposedly novel compound had actually been synthesized by another author, they decided to retract the paper from Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry earlier this year, concluding “these facts made the paper inappropriate and unfaithful.”

Apparently, around the same time, the authors decided to retract the earlier correction, as well:

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BMJ corrects controversial critique of US dietary guidelines report

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downloadThe BMJ has published a correction to a critique of the U.S. dietary guidelines report that has received heavy criticism from nutrition experts.

The author, journalist Nina Teicholz, has also posted a response to the criticism of the article.

The BMJ investigation, released in September, asserted that the guidelines committee used “weak scientific standards” to make its recommendations. It also criticized several aspects of the new guidelines, such as “deleting meat from the list of foods recommended as part of its healthy diets.”

Soon after the feature appeared, The Verge — who first reported the news of the correction this week — called it “bogus.” The BMJ quickly issued a “clarification” to the paper, in the “rapid response” section of the paper (the journal’s version of a comment section). It noted that the feature should have specified “lean” meats.

The new, official, correction doesn’t formally put the clarification on the record. Instead, it addresses the research behind the analysis about saturated fats. Here it is in full:

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Written by Shannon Palus

October 28th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Correction restores confidence in results of confidence study

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Strategic Management JournalA study that looked at how entrepreneurs’ confidence levels change depending on market conditions has been corrected to fix an error that flipped the results of one of the experiments.

The paper was published in 2013 by the Strategic Management Journaland explored how entrepreneurs stay confident in difficult marketplaces by studying how people reacted to tasks of varying difficulty. In one experiment, participants were asked how well they thought they did on an easy quiz and how well they did on a hard quiz. Results showed that “participants underestimated their scores on the easy quiz” and “overestimated their performance on the difficult quiz.” However, authors wrote the opposite in the final paper.

Here’s the correction notice for “Making Sense of Overconfidence in Market Entry”:

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Mega-correction for “empirical anomalies” in management paper

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The Academy of Management JournalThe author of a paper that looked at how the geographical spread of research and development sites has impacted innovation has posted a four-page list of corrections that fixed “empirical anomalies” in the paper.

A group of PhD students raised concerns about the paper’s findings, according to the editor-in-chief of The Academy of Management Journal, Gerard George. The journal formed a committee that worked with the author to reproduce the results. That ended with a correction to two of the paper’s three hypotheses, and corresponding parts of the text.

The four-page notice — (the details of which are paywalled, unfortunately) — includes notes from the journal’s editor and the author:

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Urologist makes what he calls “clarifications” to multiple articles

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Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.22.32 AMWe have discovered several errata for a New York City urologist, including in one paper that previously inspired one of our favorite headlines.

The latest development is pretty straightforward: Ashutosh K. Tewari has issued errata to multiple papers in two journals that note changes to some data points. But the backstory has some twists and turns, so you may need to read this one carefully.

We’ll start with the paper that might be familiar to eagle-eyed readers, on incontinence after surgery: “Effect of a Risk- Grade of Nerve-sparing Technique on Early Return of Continence After Robot-assisted Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy.” It was published in European Urology in 2012, and has been cited 21 times, according Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the correction note (paywalled  — tsk, tsk):

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Following criticism, BMJ “clarifies” dietary guidelines investigation

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downloadThe BMJ has issued two “clarifications” to an investigation it published last week that questioned whether the new U.S. dietary guidelines were evidence-based.

The article criticized several aspects of the new dietary guidelines, such as “deleting meat from the list of foods recommended as part of its healthy diets.” However, according to the clarification, that sentence should have specified “lean” meats.

After The BMJ‘s article appeared, an analysis on The Verge questioned whether The BMJ’s author Nina Teicholz was guided by her own opinions. She’s the author of a book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee also posted a lengthy “rapid response”The BMJ‘s refined version of a comment section — to Teicholz’s article, saying it “strongly disagrees with many of the statements represented as facts.”

This afternoon, Rebecca Coombes, head of investigations and features at The BMJ, posted a response: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

September 29th, 2015 at 3:35 pm