The timing was tight, but Sergio Gonzalez had done it. Gonzalez, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Neurosciences of Montpellier (INSERM) in France, had a paper accepted in a top journal by the end of 2015, just in time to apply for a small number of highly sought-after permanent research positions that open up in France each year.
If Gonzalez had missed the January deadline for this system of advancement, known as concours, he would have had to wait until the following cycle to apply.
Once his paper was accepted by the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Gonzalez could breathe a sigh of relief. He began being invited to interviews. But then, a comment showed up at PubPeer.
Continue reading Negligence by stressed-out postdoc led to retraction of high-profile paper, supervisor says
A group of researchers in France has been forced to retract their 2002 article in the Journal of Virology after learning that the paper was marred by multiple image problems.
The paper, “P0 of Beet Western Yellows Virus Is a Suppressor of Posttranscriptional Gene Silencing,” came from the lab of Veronique Ziegler-Graff, a plant biologist at the University Louis Pasteur, in Strasbourg. The authors attribute some of the image problems to “genuine mounting mistakes,” and have repeated the experiments to confirm the conclusion, as have other labs. However, the researchers couldn’t find all the original data from the 2002 paper.
Although the retraction statement points the finger at the first author, Sebastien Pfeffer, the list of contributors includes , a frequent collaborator of Olivier Voinnet, a high-profile plant biologist whose work has come under intense scrutiny.
According to the lengthy notice:
Continue reading 15-year old paper pulled for image problems
After an international group of physicists agreed that the findings of their 2015 paper were in doubt, they simply couldn’t agree on how to explain what went wrong. Apparently tired of waiting, the journal retracted the paper anyway.
The resulting notice doesn’t say much, for obvious reasons. Apparently, some additional information came to light which caused the researchers to question the results and model. Although the five authors thought a retraction was the right call, they could not agree on the language in the notice.
Here’s the retraction notice for “Atomistic simulation of damage accumulation and amorphization in Ge,” published online February 2015 in the Journal of Applied Physics (JAP) and retracted two years later in January 2017: Continue reading Researchers disagree over how to explain doubts over physics findings
Around two years ago, when mathematics researcher Jean Ecalle submitted a paper to Acta Mathematica Vietnamica, he saw that he had the option of making the paper open access. So he checked a box on the submission form — which included a mention of the fees that he apparently missed — and didn’t think anything of it.
The paper “Eupolars and their Bialternality Grid” appeared online in October, 2015.
So Ecalle was quite surprised when, sometime later, he received an email from a representative of the publisher saying he owed 2,640 Euros. He responded in January 2016, guessing what the fees might stem from:
Continue reading Major publisher threatened to sue author who didn’t realize he owed open access fees
A physics journal has retracted a 2016 study after learning that the author published it without the knowledge or permission of the funder, which had a confidentiality agreement in place for the work.
According to the retraction notice in Applied Physics Letters, the paper also lifted content from other researchers without due credit. Given the “legal issue” associated with the breach of confidentiality, the journal has decided to remove the paper entirely.
Here’s the retraction notice: Continue reading Physics journal removes study for breach of confidentiality
Some people can look at an old photograph of a person — say, of your grandmother in elementary school — and tell whether the person is today alive or dead, according to a paper published last spring.
If that sounds too weird to be true…well, it might be. The journal editors have retracted the paper for not having enough evidence to back up its claims, despite the authors’ objections.
Here’s the retraction notice for “Prediction of Mortality Based on Facial Characteristics,” published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience:
Continue reading Journal pulls plug on paper that predicts person’s death, against authors’ objections
Institutions in France and Switzerland are investigating figures in several molecular biology papers, according to a joint press release published today.
Unfortunately, there’s not much more we can tell you about the investigation — the press release doesn’t specify the names of researchers, journals, or even the area within molecular biology that’s under scrutiny.
The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France will lead the inquiry, with contribution from ETH Zürich in Switzerland. Molecular biology researchers from both institutions were involved in the flagged publications, an ETH Zürich spokesperson told us.
The ETH Zürich spokesperson added: Continue reading Swiss, French institutions investigating several papers
An obesity journal has retracted a study by authors who previously lost another paper that suggested a link between the fecal microbiome and obesity.
We first came across on the now-retracted paper in the International Journal of Obesity (IJO) in April when we reported on the authors’ other retraction in Diabetes. The 2014 paper had a corrigendum, published the same year, and also for image-related issues. Since then, however, the journal has pulled the IJO paper and its associated corrigendum at the request of the French National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) in Paris. Continue reading Authors who lost paper linking fecal transplants to obesity have another retracted
Authors have retracted a pair of PLOS ONE papers after an investigation suggested the articles might contain some fiction.
In the papers, the authors describe collecting and analyzing the DNA of mosquitoes to look for changes following the introduction of bed nets treated with insecticides to combat malaria. However, an investigation by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in France could not confirm some of the experiments ever took place.
Here’s the retraction notice for “How the Malaria Vector Anopheles gambiae Adapts to the Use of Insecticide-Treated Nets by African Populations,” which appears at the top of the paper:
Continue reading PLOS ONE retracts 2 malaria papers over doubts experiments ever took place
When authors get new data that revise a previous report, what should they do?
In the case of a 2015 lung cancer drug study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the journal published a letter to the editor with the updated findings.
Shortly after the paper was published, a pharmaceutical company released new data showing the drug wasn’t quite as effective as it had seemed. Once the authors included the new data in their analysis, they adjusted their original response rate of 59% — hailed as one of a few “encouraging results” in an NEJM editorial at the time of publication — to 45%, as they write in the letter. One of the authors told us they published the 2015 paper using less “mature” data because the drug’s benefits appeared so promising, raising questions about when to publish “exciting but still evolving data.”
It’s not a correction, as the original paper has not been changed; it doesn’t even contain a flag that it’s been updated. But among the online letters about the paper is one from the authors, “Update to Rociletinib Data with the RECIST Confirmed Response Rate,” which provides the new data and backstory:
Continue reading How should journals update papers when new findings come out?