Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘doing the right thing’ Category

Matlab mixup sinks Journal of Neuroscience paper

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journal of neuroscienceA team of neuroscientists at University of Oregon and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have retracted a paper from The Journal of Neuroscience after realizing their analytic code contained an error.

The authors state in the notice that their conclusion remains accurate after correcting the mistake in the program Matlab. However, the paper — which examined the role of neuronal oscillations in working memory — still contained “some findings that we no longer believe to be robust.”

It’s a very useful notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Cry me a retraction: Scientists pull Cry protein paper for irreproducibility

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world journal of microbialA paper on the biological insecticide Cry protein — most famously produced by genetically modified “Bt” corn — has been retracted because the authors couldn’t reproduce the findings.

The initial paper concluded that their modified gene produced a Cry protein that was significantly more toxic than the one currently spliced into food crops to make them resistant to moths, beetles, and other insects. However, when repeating the experiments, the modified proteins weren’t any more deadly than the original version.

Here is the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

He shoots, he…misses! Soccer injury paper gets red card for data errors

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jsmsThe authors of a 2014 paper on soccer injuries have forfeited their publication after revealing that the foundation of the work was based on faulty data. (Look, we could have written about letting air out of balls, yadda yadda, but the Super Bowl has come and gone.)

The article, which appeared in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, was written by a group in Denmark and Qatar led by Cristiano Eirale, a sports medicine researcher at the Aspetar-Qatar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, in Doha. It showed goalies had a lower rate of injuries during training than field players.

Trouble was, someone called a foul.

Read the rest of this entry »

A unicorn: Journal publishes euphemism-free plagiarism notice

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af journ biomed researchIt’s always nice when a journal editor actually uses words the way they’re meant to be used instead of employing euphemisms.

In 2009, the African Journal of Biomedical Research published an article on the differences in heart rates when people ran backwards versus forwards. Unfortunately, five years later, the journal found out the paper was a reproduction of a 1994 Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise paper. They contacted the authors and, when there was no response, published a straightforward and fairly detailed retraction.

According to managing editor Babafemi Olaleye, the original paper was received and handled by the founding editor of the journal. In April 2014, the managing editor of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise emailed the journal, stating that the paper had been copied wholesale.

Here’s the notice for “Comparison of Cardio-Pulmonary Responses to Forward and Backward Walking and Running”: Read the rest of this entry »

“Unacceptable level of text parallels” loses neuroscientist a paper, but not her PhD

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maynoothWe should probably launch a new blog just on the euphemisms used for plagiarism.

A case of “inadequate procedural or methodological practices of citation or quotation” causing an “unacceptable level of text parallels” has sunk a review paper, but not a thesis, for a PhD who studied memory consolidation at Maynooth University in Ireland. According to a statement from the school, Jennifer Moore used “poor practice of citation and attribution” in both her thesis and in a review article published with her post-graduate P.I. in Reviews in the Neurosciences.

The review article, which has been cited four times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, will be retracted. Because there was no data fabrication and “no misleading of other scientists or laboratories,” the school will not be retracting the thesis nor taking away her PhD.

According to Google Scholar, the review has been cited 8 times. Moore now works as a neuropsychologist at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. We’ve contacted her for comment and will update if we hear back.

Here’s the notice for “Reconsolidation Revisited: A Review and Commentary on the Phenomenon”: Read the rest of this entry »

Lancet retracts and republishes cardiology paper with admirable notice

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logo_lancetOne of the papers from a massive heart disease study in China, published in the Lancet, has been retracted and republished after the authors noticed a statistical error.

The article, by authors from Peking Union Medical College in China, Yale University, and elsewhere, presented the results of the China PEACE-Retrospective Acute Myocardial Infarction Study, part of a national initiative to study and improve care for cardiac problems. After being posted online on June 24, 2014, the authors noticed that they’d incorrectly weighed one of the cities in their calculations, which threw off a number of national estimates.

After the corrections were made, the paper was peer-reviewed again, and reviewers stated that despite the mistakes, the original conclusions were sound.

Today is a banner day on Retraction Watch: This is our second excellent example of transparency in 24 hours, and therefore the second entry in our “doing the right thing” category. An editorial lays out exactly what happened, including a timeline, allowing scientists to feel confident they’re basing the next research step on solid and accurate data. (We also appreciate the hat tip to the Committee on Publication Ethics retraction guidelines, which we often send out to editors of bad notices as a gentle reminder.)

Here’s the notice for “ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in China from 2001 to 2011 (the China PEACE-Retrospective Acute Myocardial Infarction Study): a retrospective analysis of hospital data”: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors issue a model retraction for mistaken bacterial identity

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jcmA group in the Netherlands has retracted a case study on the diarrheal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, commonly found in animal feces, after repeated tests showed the bacteria was actually C. fetus, which also causes spontaneous abortion in cows and sheep.

The 46-year-old man who had previously had an aortic valve replacement came to the doctors with endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Initial tests showed that it was due to a C. jejuni infection, which often lives in chickens, wombats, kangaroos, and sheep.

Only a few cases of endocarditis caused by C. jejuni had ever been reported. Unfortunately, a thorough followup made it clear that a different pathogen was at play. Let’s consider this retraction a model for all others in its clarity and thoroughness.

Take it away, notice for “Aortic Homograft Endocarditis Caused by Campylobacter jejuni“: Read the rest of this entry »

Researchers retract Science paper claiming to have detected a single proton

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science jan 2015Less than three months after publishing a paper in Science which they claim to have been able to detect the spin of a single proton, the authors have retracted it for “a potentially serious issue with the main conclusion.”

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

Thalidomide paper retracted for lab error

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fertstertResearchers at the University of Pittsburgh have retracted a paper on using thalidomide, which led to an estimated 10,000 birth defects by the time the drug was pulled from the market in 1961, to prevent chemo-induced sterility.

Alkylating agents, which prevent DNA replication in cells, are a commonly-used cancer treatment. Unfortunately they also damage the ovaries and testes, sometimes causing infertility. The University of Pittsburgh scientists published a paper in Elsevier journal Fertility and Sterility in 2011 that suggested thalidomide, which causes severe birth defects when used during pregnancy, might help protect ovaries during chemo.

However, according to the notice, the authors tried and failed to replicate their results. They had two separate scientists who were not authors take a look at the results; everyone agreed that the original study incorrectly reported the number of primordial follicles, the precursor to mature eggs.

Here’s the notice for “Thalidomide treatment attenuates chemotherapy-induced gonadal toxicity”: Read the rest of this entry »

Paper recommending calorie limits on Happy Meals retracted

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Image via Stefan

A paper estimating the effects of limiting fast food meals with toys to under 550 calories has been retracted after concerns arose regarding the scientists’ use of an outdated model for estimating weight changes in kids.

The paper estimated that kids who eat fast food twice a week would avoid gaining two pounds a year if calorie limits are imposed on meals with toys. However, everyone we spoke to, and the notice, indicated that their estimate was inaccurate.

Here’s the notice for “Modeling Potential Effects of Reduced Calories in Kids’ Meals with Toy Giveaways”:

Read the rest of this entry »