Peer review isn’t a core subject of this blog. We leave that to the likes of Nature’s Peer-to-Peer, or even the Dilbert Blog. But it seems relevant to look at the peer review process for any clues about how retracted papers are making their way into press.
We’re not here to defend peer review against its many critics. We have the same feelings about it that Churchill did about democracy, aka the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried. Of course, a good number of the retractions we write about are due to misconduct, and it’s not clear how peer review, no matter how good, would detect out-and-out fraud.
Still, peer review is meant as a barrier between low-quality papers and publication, and it often comes up when critics ask questions such as, “How did that paper ever get through peer review?”
Anil Potti, who resigned from his post at Duke today during an investigation into faked results, will likely have another retraction to his credit shortly. According to a Duke statement:
Dr. Potti’s collaborator, Joseph Nevins, Ph.D., has initiated a process intended to lead to a retraction request regarding a paper previously published in Nature Medicine. This process has been initiated due to concerns about the reproducibility of reported predictors, and their possible effect on the overall conclusions in this paper. Other papers published based on this science are currently being reviewed for any concerns. Continue reading Another update on Anil Potti: Co-author asks Nature Medicine to retract paper
…stepped down from his position at Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy Friday and took responsibility for the problems in his research, IGSP Director Huntington Willard wrote in an e-mail to IGSP staff.
Willard wrote that Potti “accepted full responsibility for a series of anomalies in data handling, analysis and management that have come under scrutiny in the past months.”
He said that investigations into Potti’s research will continue, as will IGSP’s examinations of Potti’s science.
The title of this post is a question that we’ve been asking ourselves since we started Retraction Watch in August, and that others have asked us since. And we’ve gotten different answers depending where we look:
In our first post, we cited a study that found 328 retractions in Medline in the decade from 1995 to 2004.
This morning we reported on a new retraction in Cell involving fraud from a lab in Finland, which led us to a second retraction of a paper by the same group in the Journal of Molecular Biology. The first author on both papers was Tatjana Degenhardt, who at the time was a graduate student in the lab of Carsten Carlberg, professor of biochemistry at the University of Kuopio.
Call it bad luck, but the journal Cell has been victimized again by image manipulation. For the second time this month, the publication has retracted a paper whose authors acknowledged that one of them had played around with the figures.
transcriptional cycling, i.e., periodic assembly of transcription factors and their cofactors and the resulting cyclical accumulation of mRNA, may stem from stochastic timing and sequential activation of transcription in individual cells.
It’s a busy week at Science. The journal is retracting a controversial paper about which it had previously expressed doubts, and has published an “Expression of Concern” about another article that looks like it might be headed for the same fate.
First, the retraction.
The move involves an October 2009 paper, on which we’ve previously posted, by European researchers who claimed to have made a major advance in the ability to watch how enzymes behave in cells — thereby giving scientists a new tool for monitoring the function of genes.