Caught Our Notice: Yes, a 20-year-old article is wrong — but it won’t be corrected online

Title: AMPA receptor-mediated regulation of a Gi-protein in cortical neurons

What Caught Our Attention:  Usually, when journals publish corrections to articles, they also correct the original article, except when the original is unavailable online.  When Nature noticed that some figure panels in a 20-year-old paper were duplicated, it flagged the issue for readers — but didn’t correct the online version of the original paper. According to the notice, the duplications don’t disturb the conclusion illustrated by the figure, the original data couldn’t be found, and the last two authors had retired. We contacted a spokesperson at Nature, who told us “the information at the start of the paper clearly links to the corrigendum.”  

Below is the image in question – with the relevant areas indicated by color boxes.  

Journal: Nature

Authors: Yizheng Wang, Daniel L. Small, Danica B. Stanimirovic, Paul Morley, Jon P. Durkin

Affiliations: National Research Council of Canada, Canada

The Notice:

It has come to our attention that Fig. 4 in this Letter presented three events of data duplication. In Fig. 4a the panels in row 1, columns 1 and 7 were the same, in Fig. 4a the panels in row 3, columns 5 and 7 were the same, and in Fig. 4c and e, the panels in columns 1–3 were the same. Given the time elapsed since publication, we could not locate the original raw data. The main conclusion illustrated by Fig. 4, however, of dose-dependent (Fig. 4d) and Gβγ-sensitive (Fig. 4f) activation of Gαi1 by AMPA in MIN6 cells, which do not express GluR6 (Fig. 4b), remains unaffected. Authors J.P.D. and P.M., now both retired, could not be reached. The original Letter has not been corrected online.

Date of Article: October 1997

Times Cited, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science: 113

Date of Notice:  December 20, 2017

Hat Tip: Tony Tweedale

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3 thoughts on “Caught Our Notice: Yes, a 20-year-old article is wrong — but it won’t be corrected online”

  1. To the authors of this article,

    Don’t you think that the title is a bit misleading?!
    How do you know that ”a 20-year-old article is wrong”?! How do you discredit a whole Nature paper?! Do not you believe in the existence of an ”honest” error/mistake? Or you are just too perfect in every aspect of your life?!

    1. Whether it’s an “honest error/mistake” or not, wrong is wrong.

      The figure, as published, is not the actual result of the experiment described in the legend and text. The data provided were not the data used to support the conclusions presented.

  2. Hard to explain how this could happend accidently.
    Why is it apparently impossible to retract articles containing manipulated data?

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