Researchers get a mulligan: JBC paper withdrawn sans explanation

jbc july 2013A group of authors has withdrawn a paper from the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), but readers won’t know why.

The paper, “Static High-Gradient Magnetic Fields Activate Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) Ion Channels Enabling Remote Control of Cell Function,” whose corresponding author is Thomas Simmet of Ulm University, appeared online on June 11. Since June 24, the PDF of the paper has been stamped:


JBC tells us:

Dr. Simmet requested that this paper be withdrawn within a few days of appearing online as a Paper in Press.  According to Dr. Simmet, the data are unreliable.  He may be able to provide you with a more detailed explanation.  Because this paper was withdrawn while it was a Paper in Press, it will not have a withdrawal notice published, but it will be labeled as “withdrawn” in PubMed and stamped online as such. This paper has not been cited.

Simmet has not responded to our requests for comment, so we don’t have any more details. But we’re not fans of these kinds of withdrawals, as we’ve noted before in a post about a similar notice in an Elsevier journal:

The policy gives researchers — and journals — a mulligan. It seems to reflect an old-fashioned view of what “publishing” means, namely that the paper has appeared in a print issue. Sorry, folks, publishing online means something is, well, published. We see no reason why the scientific community does not deserve as full an accounting of such withdrawals as it gets from Elsevier’s retraction notices — which, as we have noted before, generally contain more information that the industry average.

2 thoughts on “Researchers get a mulligan: JBC paper withdrawn sans explanation”

  1. Reading just the abstract, the now withdrawn results appear to me to be fascinating – if they were true. I don’t know any of the authors (I only have some personal and scientific dispute with a very different scientist of that university), but I think it is still a good and ethical sign for researchers to withdraw their paper as soon as something appears to be incorrect or not reproducible – and without accusing any of their co-authors of any wrongdoing. There are many ways some results may not be reproducible, but this doesn’t mean the authors really knew already the cause. I hope they will elucidate this somehow later.

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