Neuroscience paper retracted after colleagues object to data publication

frontiersA paper published this October in the journal Frontiers In Neuroscience was retracted the following month because the authors’ collaborators did not give them permission to publish some of the data.

The paper detailed how and why the authors use the software program Nengo to test large simulations of nervous system networks. As part of the research, the authors tested five systems, one of which they were working on with another group. Due to a “miscommunication,” the authors thought they had received permission to publish the data; they plan to resubmit a paper describing the other four systems.

Here’s the official retraction note:

The authors and the journal wish to retract the 19 October 2015 article cited above. The authors requested the retraction of this article in November 2015 as data was included in this article which had been released without the permission of all collaborators involved in the research project.

Frontiers Life Science Program Manager and Journal Manager Nina Hall told us the retraction was instigated by people who are not listed as authors on the paper:

As detailed in the retraction notification, the authors of the Original Research article “Benchmarking Neuromorphic Systems with Nengo” requested its retraction shortly after publication, as data was included in this article which had been released without the permission of all collaborators involved in the research project. The collaborators, who were not listed as authors on the original article, had not been informed and did not agree on the release of the data published in the article “Benchmarking Neuromorphic Systems with Nengo.” Following the publication of the article, the collaborators expressed their concerns to the authors, and the authors in turn sent a request to the editors of Frontiers in Neuroscience that the article be retracted.

First author Trevor Bekolay, based at the University of Waterloo’s Computational Neuroscience Research Group, told us that the retraction is the result of a miscommunication with collaborators on another project:

All of the authors of the paper signed off on it, but one of the five systems we tested was an ongoing development with another research group. We included it in the paper for the sake of completeness, but due to a miscommunication on our part we thought we’d received permission to use it, but actually hadn’t. When the paper came out, the other research group let us know about the problem. They also pointed out that the system was in such an early stage that it’s not likely to be representative of the final product, and so it would make more sense to remove that system completely (especially since it doesn’t affect the point of the paper, which is the benchmarking method). The intent is to resubmit the paper with that system removed (i.e., presenting benchmarks for four systems rather than five).

According to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, the paper has not yet been cited.

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