Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘doing the right thing’ Category

Teflon toxicity paper fails to stick

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toxicological sciencesAn advanced online paper on prenatal toxicity of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), an industrial chemical used to make waterproof coatings and Teflon, is being retracted due to “some minor errors.”

High blood levels of PFOA have been tied to kidney disease in humans, as well as several cancers in animal models. The majority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific advisory board deemed PFOA “likely to be carcinogenic in humans” in 2006, though a decade later the EPA has yet to make a decision on regulations. The retracted paper found that exposing pregnant mice to PFOA altered hormone pathways in mammary glands.

According to the notice in Toxicological Sciences, there was a duplicated image in one of the figures, as well as “some minor errors.” Here’s figure 5B: Read the rest of this entry »

Molecular mixup burns chemistry paper

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advanced synthesis and catalysisChemists at Lanzhou University in China did the right thing last month, retracting a paper in Advanced Synthesis & Catalysis because of issues with a reactant that could only be corrected by changing “all the text and quantities.”

When the scientists were adding what was labeled Reactant 1 to the mix, they believed it was α-ethoxycarbonyl-α-azido-N-phenylacetamides. Unfortunately, what they were actually using was a decomposed version of the molecule, which threw everything off.

Here’s the notice for “tert-Butyl Hydroperoxide and Tetrabutylammonium Iodide- Promoted Free Radical Cyclization of α-Azido-N-arylamides”: Read the rest of this entry »

Retraction and republication for Lancet Resp Med tracheostomy paper

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lancetrmA paper whose expression of concern we covered in November 2014 has been retracted and republished “because of the extent of the changes necessary,” according to the Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen retraction/republications at the Lancetaccompanied by thorough breakdowns of the problem.

This study was a meta-analysis of research on how the timing of tracheostomies — placing a breathing tube directly into the windpipe — affects patients’ mortality rate. The original paper found that critically ill patients who received a tracheostomy earlier fared better than those for whom the procedure was delayed for weeks after intubation, the recommended practice.

However, when the authors calculated how many patients died, they assumed that any patient who wasn’t discharged from the intensive care unit (ICU) had died there, instead of looking for other explanations. This made their estimates unreliable.

The publisher convened a panel, which ultimately decided retraction and republication was the most appropriate course of action.

The original expression of concern contained a quote from the authors about the “data discrepancy” that would later sink the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Slippery slope? Data problems force retraction of landslide paper

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The Mameyes Landslide, in Puerto Rico, buried more than 100 homes in 1985.  Source: USGS

The Mameyes Landslide, in Puerto Rico, buried more than 100 homes in 1985. Source: USGS

The authors of a 2014 paper in The Scientific World Journal on rock slopes have retracted their article for “erroneous” data.

The paper, “Slope Stability Analysis Using Limit Equilibrium Method in Nonlinear Criterion,” came from a group of researchers from institutions including the Changjiang River Scientific Research Institute in Wuhan, and the Key Laboratory of Transportation Tunnel Engineering at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu. It’s about (we think) how to calculate the safety of rock slopes, and how vulnerable they are to landslides.

Here’s the notice, which as a pretty fair ratio of words to information:

Read the rest of this entry »

“Serious and obvious mistakes” kill paper on heart attacks in rats

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j card pharmA group of researchers in China and the United States have retracted a 2014 paper in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology after discovering the data were fatally flawed.

The article examined whether the anti-arrhythmia drug zacopride affected cardiac remodeling after heart attack, and came from Bo-We Wu, of Shanxi Medical University, in Taiyuan, and colleagues, including one author from Savannah, Georgia.

Here’s more from the notice for “Activation of IK1 channel by zacopride attenuates left ventricular remodeling in rats with myocardial infarction”:

Read the rest of this entry »

Cabbage batch skids: new experiments dry up plant paper

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current biologyProminent plant researcher Mark Estelle has retracted a paper on plant hormones after follow-up studies showed the conclusions were incorrect.

The hormone in question, auxin, is a major player in plant growth and development. The retracted Current Biology paper reported that a certain auxin receptor, designated AFB4, downregulates the responses of cabbage-cousin Arabidopsis thaliana to the signaling molecule. But after publication, the researchers experimented with a mutant seedling that didn’t produce the receptor, and discovered it didn’t overreact to auxin signals, indicating the receptor wasn’t playing a major role in limiting the effects.

Estelle, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator based at the University of California, San Diego, told us he and his team are working on a paper that will contain the accurate data from the paper, along with new findings.

Here’s the notice for “The AFB4 Auxin Receptor Is a Negative Regulator of Auxin Signaling in Seedlings”, which has 62 citations, per Google Scholar: Read the rest of this entry »

Catalyst for change: grad student catches error in chem experiments, prompts retraction

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acscatalysisACS Catalysis has retracted a 2012 research letter from a chemistry lab that discovered an error in their experiments.

According to last author Rory Waterman at the University of Vermont, an undetected reaction caused his lab to mistakenly mischaracterize the products of an iridium catalyst. The diligence of a graduate student brought it all to light, he noted: “In short, it was the ability of one of my group members to be a very good scientist.”

The letter, titled “High Activity and Selectivity for Silane Dehydrocoupling by an Iridium Catalyst,” was published in February. It has only accumulated 5 citations, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

According to the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

March 3rd, 2015 at 11:30 am

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 »