Sometimes, corrections are so extensive, they can only be called one thing: Mega-corrections.
Recently, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) issued a four-page correction notice to a paper about a compound that appeared to reduce the chances a cancer will recur. The notice describes figure duplication, problems with error bars and figure legends — as well as the loss of statistical significance for some data.
According to the authors’ statement in the notice:
During the process of data checking, we detected mistakes in the expression of sample numbers, error bar expressions, and figure preparation.
Describing the errors, and presenting updated figures, occupies four pages.
After addressing the errors, some of the data were no longer statistically significant. The notice updates that section of the text accordingly:
‘To ascertain the efficiency of ANP administration, we measured the blood levels of cGMP. However, the data did not reach statistical significance when ANP (0.5μg·kg·min) was infused subcutaneously in the mice (SI Appendix, Fig. S8), although the blood cGMP levels showed a tendency of increase after ANP administration.’
Did the journal consider retracting a paper that needed such extensive corrections? A spokesperson for PNAS told us:
The editor and the Board member considered this Correction. The editor felt that the errors did not substantially affect the main findings of the article. The Board member concurred and concluded that a correction was sufficient in this case and the article did not need to be retracted.
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