Science is retracting a 2014 paper from the lab of a Nobel winner after replication attempts failed to conclusively support the original results.
In January, Bruce Beutler, an immunologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, emailed Science editor-in-chief Jeremy Berg to report that attempts to replicate the findings in “MAVS, cGAS, and endogenous retroviruses in T-independent B cell responses” had weakened his confidence in original results. The paper had found that virus-like elements in the human genome play an important role in the immune system’s response to pathogens.
Although Beutler and several co-authors requested retraction right off the bat, the journal discovered that two co-authors disagreed, which Berg told us drew out the retraction process. In an attempt to resolve the situation, the journal waited for Beutler’s lab to perform another replication attempt. Those findings were inconclusive and the dissenting authors continued to push back against retraction.
Researchers at a prominent Japanese university have retracted a 2015 paper in Science,after an investigation uncovered image falsification and fabrication.
Last September, the University of Tokyo began an investigation of seven papers from the lab of cell biologist Yoshinori Watanabe after receiving anonymous allegations. In May 2017, the university determined that five papers contained falsified or fabricated images, and announced the results of its investigation on August 1. Two of the papers were published in Science, two in Nature and one in EMBO Reports.
Science has retracted a high-profile immunology paper after a probe concluded the corresponding author had committed misconduct.
The paper — which initially caught media attention for suggesting a protein could help boost the immune system’s ability to fight off tumors — has been under a cloud of suspicion since last year, when the journal tagged it with an expression of concern, citing a university investigation.
That investigation — at Imperial College London — has concluded that the paper contained problematic figures that were the result of research misconduct. All were prepared by last and corresponding author Philip Ashton-Rickardt, who took full responsibility. Even though the paper was published in 2015, some original blots and accompanying details have disappeared.
A high-profile plant scientist who has been racking up corrections and retractions at a steady clip has had another paper — this one from Science — retracted.
The retraction, of a paper that had been previously corrected, is the eighth for Olivier Voinnet. According to the notice, the correction did not address all the figure problems with the paper, which “cannot be considered the result of mistakes.”
Retraction Watch: How did you first begin to suspect the findings by Eaton and Feldheim?
Stefan Franzen: Starting in early 2005, I was collaborating with Drs. Eaton and Feldheim at NCSU, thanks to two joint grants from the W.M. Keck Foundation and NSF. During a group meeting in December of 2005, a graduate student showed electron microscopy data that were inconsistent with the assignment of the particles as palladium. Over time, we kept producing more data that called their findings into question; in April 2006, a postdoc showed that the hexagonal particles could be obtained without RNA. By then, I could see that there was a significant discrepancy between what was written in the articles and what was done and observed in the laboratory.
Editor in chief Marcia McNutt told us that the journal will make a decision about whether to retract or correct the paper by February 5th.
We are not certain that what he submitted changes anything, but we wanted to consider this new information before acting.
In the meantime, today the journal issued an Expression of Concern for the paper.
The journal’s initial decision to retract the paper stemmed from an investigation at the National Science Foundation, which concluded that co-authors Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim — currently at the University of Colorado at Boulder — engaged in “a significant departure from standard research practices,” and cut them off from NSF funding unless they took specific actions. When the report on the investigation came to light earlier this month, Science editor in chief Marcia McNutt told us that she planned to issue a retraction:
We are checking to see how soon we can get it published.
That paper is going to be retracted as soon as possible, Science told us. The co-authors that the NSF reprimanded are Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim, now at the University of Colorado at Boulder; they have been under scrutiny since 2008, when an investigation at North Carolina State University, their former employer, found that the Science paper contained falsified data.