PLoS ONE has just issued a 12-figure correction on a paper by Mario A. Saad, who sued the American Diabetes Association unsuccessfully in an attempt to prevent it from retracting four papers in its flagship journal Diabetes.
The corrections include taking out Western blots copied from another Saad paper, as well as several figures where the bands were “misplaced.”
PubPeer commenters suggest this may not be enough, calling seven additional figures into question.
We’ve reached out to PLoS to find out why they didn’t just retract the paper. We also asked if there will be a correction or retraction for Saad’s PLoS Biology paper “Gut Microbiota Is a Key Modulator of Insulin Resistance in TLR 2 Knockout Mice,” which PubPeer users have tapped for multiple alleged image problems [see update at the bottom of the post].
Here’s the complete correction for “Atorvastatin Improves Survival in Septic Rats: Effect on Tissue Inflammatory Pathway and on Insulin Signaling,” including links to the raw images:
Several figures in the article included the wrong blots. The authors apologize for these errors and are providing corrected figures as well as the underlying raw blots.
The p-JNK blots in Fig. 4B were inadvertently include from lanes in Figure 3D of the publication below:
Diabetes. 2011 Mar;60(3):784–96. doi: 10.2337/db09-1907
Physical exercise reduces circulating lipopolysaccharide and TLR4 activation and improves insulin signaling in tissues of DIO rats.
Oliveira AG, Carvalho BM, Tobar N, Ropelle ER, Pauli JR, Bagarolli RA, Guadagnini D, Carvalheir JB, Saad MJ.
Fig. 2B: beta actin blot
Fig. 2C: insulin receptor blot
Fig. 2G: beta actin blot
Fig. 4D: beta actin blot
Fig. 6G: beta actin blot
Fig. 6I: beta actin blot
Fig. 4E: pcjun blot
Fig. 4F: pcjun blot
Fig. 4G: p-IRS1 serine 307 blot
Fig. 4H: p-IRS1 serine 307 blot
Fig. 5A: NFkappaB blot by the following one:
Fig. 5B: NFkappaB blot
The paper has been cited 11 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
We emailed Saad — who now has four expressions of concern, one retraction, and this correction — to ask what happened, and will update if we hear back.
Update 3:15 p.m. EST 3/5/15: PLoS ONE deputy editor Iratxe Puebla emailed us the following statement:
The decision to issue a Correction was reached on the basis of the evaluation on the extent to which the issues with the figures affected the findings of the study. Issuing a Correction at this point does not preclude further evaluation or issuing a Retraction at a later stage if additional evidence comes to light that calls into question the integrity of the work. PLOS ONE is not involved in a lawsuit involving Dr Saad.
She also pointed out that PLoS Biology is editorially independent, so PLoS ONE can’t comment. We’ve contacted that journal separately.
Update 10:45 a.m. EST 3/6/15: PLoS Biology chief editor Emma Ganley told us via email that they are “looking into” the Saad paper, but wouldn’t give us any other details:
The paper you’ve asked about is one that the PLOS Biology team is currently looking into. We can’t share any details and, as is standard, we are not willing to discuss this externally. As you are likely aware, journals have to follow a clear process when investigating issues on papers and at all the PLOS journals we follow the COPE guidelines. Out of respect for both the scientific process, and for all involved, these things take time.
Update: 7:52 p.m. ET 3/11/15: In response to a comment, we asked PLoS ONE deputy editor Puebla if Saad had ever threatened the journal with a lawsuit. “There was no discussion about a legal case in our correspondence with the authors,” Puebla responded.
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