Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“The article must be retracted:” Journal pulls prostate cancer study

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A 2016 paper exploring the biology of prostate cancer has been retracted due to figure manipulation.

According to the retraction notice, a reader contacted the journal Clinical Cancer Research in late 2016 with concerns that similar bands appeared multiple times in two images. The editors asked the paper’s corresponding author, Shahriar Koochekpour, about the issue and requested the raw data for the figures. But Koochekpour, based in the Departments of Cancer Genetics and Urology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, at the time of the study, could not locate the raw data.

Since the lab did not have raw data from such a relatively recent paper, the editors reached out to the research integrity officer at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to investigate. Indeed,  the research integrity officer contacted confirmed that two figures were problematic, and requested the paper be retracted.

Here’s the rather detailed retraction notice, published in July 2017, for “GRM1 is An Androgen-Regulated Gene and its Expression Correlates with Prostate Cancer Progression in Pre-Clinical Models:” Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: A science BS detector; scholarly publishing’s 1%; a tenured professor is fired

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The week at Retraction Watch featured the retraction of a 35-year-old paper written by a cat, and the retraction of a study about a controversial gene editing technique. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 5th, 2017 at 10:20 am

Posted in weekend reads

The three-year delay: Journal finally retracts paper based on made-up data

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Three years after an investigation revealed a 2013 paper was based on fraudulent data, a journal has finally retracted it.

The paper, published in Journal of Hazardous Materials, was one of seven articles by a team at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) in Chandigarh, India that contain fabricated data, according to an investigation by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in New Delhi. (IMTECH is part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.) Although it took one journal years to take action, another still has not retracted one of the seven flagged papers. Read the rest of this entry »

Publisher won’t retract two papers, despite university’s request

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Jens Förster

Jens Förster, a high-profile social psychologist, has agreed to retract multiple papers following an institutional investigation — but has also fought to keep some papers intact. Recently, one publisher agreed with his appeal, and announced it would not retract two of his papers, despite the recommendation of his former employer.

Last month, the American Psychological Association (APA) announced it would not retract two papers co-authored by Förster, which the University of Amsterdam had recommended for retraction in May, 2015. The APA had followed the university’s advice last year and retracted two other papers, which Förster had agreed to as part of a settlement with the German Society for Psychology (DGPs). But after multiple appeals by Förster and his co-authors, the publisher has decided to retain the papers as part of the scientific record.

Many voices contributed to the discussion about these two papers — in November, 2016, the University of Amsterdam announced it was rejecting the appeal by another co-author on both papers, Nira Liberman, based at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The following month, Tel Aviv University announced that it believed the articles should not be retracted, based on its own internal review.

The APA reviewed the various recommendations, according to last month’s announcement:

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy birthday to Retraction Watch! (We’re 7.) And an update on our database.

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August 3rd is a big day around here — it’s our birthday. Today, we celebrate seven years since two science journalists decided, not exactly on whim but close to it, to launch a blog about retractions. Little did they know. (To hear our co-founder Ivan Oransky talk more about this milestone, check out his podcast interview with Cara Santa Maria, host of “Talk Nerdy.”)

Once again, it’s been a big year. What we’re most excited about is having launched a still-in-progress retractions database. Speaking of still in progress, here’s where we are: The database contains just shy of 8,000 carefully curated and detailed entries, which, when we first started gathering material, seemed to be most of the retractions out there. We now think that there are closer to 9,000 retractions of papers so far, which would mean we’re about 90% of the way to being complete. (For comparison, as of today, PubMed — which is almost exclusively focused on the biomedical literature, rather than all subjects — lists 5,176 retracted papers, and 5,461 retractions of publications.) Along the way, however, we have become aware of large swaths of retracted conference abstracts, some of which we’ve reported on, but most of which we haven’t. Including those, we estimate there are about 15,000 retractions — so there’s still some work to do.

This spring, we were grateful recipients of a $325,000 grant renewal from the Helmsley Charitable Trust. The Trust, and our other generous funders — the MacArthur Foundation and the Arnold Foundation — have enabled us to continue our work, including hiring two new staff writers, Victoria Stern and Andrew P. Han.

Some other highlights:

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Written by Alison McCook

August 3rd, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Posted in RW announcements

Newspaper series prompts CDC to correct paper on Legionnaire’s disease

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Post-publication peer review isn’t just for scientists. Newspaper reporters can help correct the scientific record, too.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has corrected a journal article on Legionnaire’s disease after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealed what seems to be efforts by the researchers to misrepresent their data.

In a series of articles last December, the newspaper raised questions about the CDC’s actions in the aftermath of outbreaks in 2011 and 2012 of Legionnaire’s that sickened 22 veterans, killing six. The Post-Gazette obtained emails from CDC scientists that appeared to reveal their disdain for the sterilization method the hospital had been using to suppress the growth of Legionella bacteria. That method, a copper-silver system, is widely considered to be effective. But according to the newspaper, the CDC investigators were so critical of the copper-silver disinfectant technology that the VA ultimately switched to a system based on chlorine.   Read the rest of this entry »

“The data have spoken:” Controversial NgAgo gene editing study retracted

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The author of a 2016 paper describing a potentially invaluable lab tool has retracted it, following heavy criticism from outside groups that could not reproduce the findings.

The paper had already been tagged with an Expression of Concern by the journal, Nature Biotechnology, which included data from multiple groups casting doubt on the original findings. Although the authors, led by Chunyu Han at Hebei University of Science and Technology in China, produced data to support their original findings, the journal has concluded — following “feedback from expert reviewers” — that the additional data “are insufficient to counter the substantial body of evidence that contradicts their initial findings,” according to an editorial released today:

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A press release had “fake” and “NASA” in its headline. Then it was retracted.

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Last Thursday, struck — as it were — by a headline about an asteroid preparedness test, I took to Twitter

I couldn’t quite tell if this was a clever dig at a certain President’s penchant for calling everything “fake news,” or a risky gambit, given various “faked Moon landing” conspiracy theories — or both.

And then, less than 90 minutes after I tweeted, the press release was retracted, with a note that an edited version would be reissued.

The original headline was: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 2nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in united states

Author admits to manipulating more than a dozen images in 2013 paper

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A former graduate student at the University of Hong Kong confessed to making “inappropriate modifications” to several figures in a 2013 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).

According to the retraction notice, the authors identified issues in 13 images while reviewing the data; the paper’s first author, Yingying Lu, copped to manipulating the figures. Even though “these modifications did not change the results or interpretations of this work,” the authors requested the paper be retracted.

The paper’s corresponding author, Jainbo Yue, previously based at the University of Hong Kong and now at the City University of Hong Kong, had nothing to add to the retraction notice, and told us that a “third person” is repeating the key experiments.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Two pore channel 2 (TPC2) inhibits autophagosomal-lysosomal fusion by alkalinizing lysosomal pH,” published in July: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

August 2nd, 2017 at 8:00 am

After 35 years, philosophy journal corrects article…by a cat

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A cat philosopher, via Pixabay

In 1982, Bruce Le Catt wrote a response to a paper in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy critiquing an earlier article about prosthetic vision.

But Le Catt was no ordinary author. No, he was a cat, the beloved pet of David Lewis, a world-class philosopher who just happened to be the author of the article about which Bruce Le Catt was commenting.

Lewis’ inside joke wasn’t lost on those who knew him, and the benign deception seems to have been common knowledge in the field since the Le Catt paper appeared in 1982 (which also happens to be the year Cats began its run on Broadway). The paper has been cited four times since it was published, according to Clarivate Analytics. But 25 years later, the journal has finally decided to put an end to the gag.

The joyless notice states plainly: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

August 1st, 2017 at 2:42 pm