‘[A] disappointing situation’: Stem cell group retracts with ‘rectitude’ after error

A team of stem cell researchers at the University of Maryland has lost a 2020 paper after failing to correct an error that they’d caught prior to submission.

The paper, “Endothelial/mesenchymal stem cell crosstalk within bioprinted coculture,” appeared in Tissue Engineering Part A, a Mary Ann Liebert publication. The senior author of the article was John Fisher, who holds an endowed chair in bioengineering at Maryland and also is one of the journal’s co-editors. 

According to the retraction notice

After publication of the article, one of the coauthors of the paper discovered a potential flaw in the analysis that was thought to be dispatched prior to the submission of the paper to Tissue Engineering Part A but was not.

One of the co-editors of Tissue Engineering, John P. Fisher, PhD, is named as the senior author on the paper. Dr. Fisher has expressed deep regret about this error, and in the best interest of the scientific community and the readership of Tissue Engineering, has displayed rectitude in requesting the official retraction of his own article. Additionally, Dr. Fisher and his laboratory have strengthened the internal review processes of data collection and analysis so as to ensure that a similar error does not occur again in the future.

Tissue Engineering remains committed to preserving the integrity of the scientific literature and the community it serves.

Fisher told us: 

this was a disappointing situation for us.  An error in the analysis of the gene expression data was noted while the paper was in preparation.  We had thought this error was fixed throughout the study, however some of the data remained improperly analyzed.  A coauthor realized this error after the paper was accepted.  Since the reanalysis of the data would have significantly changed the results of the work, we thought it best to acknowledge our error and retract the work. … We are considering the best steps forward, and have not yet made a decision on resubmission.

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