Science publishes Voinnet’s 19th, 20th, and 21st corrections

351-6271-coverProminent plant biologist Olivier Voinnet has issued three more corrections in this week’s issue of Science.

Collectively, the papers have earned more than 1400 citations, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

By our count, he’s now at 21 corrections and seven retractions, following months of questions about his work. He’s been the subject of an investigation that found he “breached his duty of care,” and another which found evidence of scientific misconduct.

One correction goes against the recommendation of the ETH Commission to retract the paper for “well documented intentional manipulations.” According to the correction note, the incorrect figures did not “alter the data in any material way that could be construed to benefit the results and their conclusions.” That correction is the only one of the three for which Voinnet takes full responsibility.

The other two corrections place the responsibility on  Continue reading Science publishes Voinnet’s 19th, 20th, and 21st corrections

Can a journal retract its plan to retract? Science may

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Science is reconsidering its plan to retract a paper about using RNA to make palladium nanoparticles after one of the authors submitted a last-minute correction.

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.

McNutt explained what changed:  Continue reading Can a journal retract its plan to retract? Science may

Science retracting paper by chemists cut off from NSF funding

Bruce Eaton
Bruce Eaton
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Daniel Feldheim

The National Science Foundation will no longer fund a pair of chemists who “recklessly falsified data,” according to a report from the NSF’s Office of Inspector General, unless they “take specific actions to address issues” in a 2004 Science paper.

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.

The paper, “RNA-Mediated Metal-Metal Bond Formation in the Synthesis of Hexagonal Palladium Nanoparticles,” has been cited 138 times.

Science Editor in Chief  Marcia McNutt told us today that a retraction is in the works:

Continue reading Science retracting paper by chemists cut off from NSF funding

Science flags immune-boosting paper under investigation

F1.mediumScience magazine has issued an expression of concern for a paper on the discovery of a new immune-boosting protein. The paper’s findings, which received some press coverage when they came out last spring, are now under investigation by Imperial College London.

The expression of concern follows a correction noting a Western blot mix-up. Science Editor in Chief Marcia McNutt told us last month that the mistake resulted from “carelessness” on the part of the authors. But now, an investigation at Imperial College London — where Philip Ashton-Rickardt led the research — is formally looking into the findings.

That investigation is ongoing, according to the expression of concern (signed by McNutt):

Continue reading Science flags immune-boosting paper under investigation

Science retracts physics paper after magnetic field wasn’t what it seemed

F1.mediumScience has retracted an August paper on an interesting electric current researchers observed in a kind of material called a topological insulator. Well, a current the researchers — based at Stanford and MIT — thought they had observed.

A magnetic field with particular attributes reported in the paper seemed to provide evidence of the current. But the researchers soon discovered that the field might have been, in part, an artifact of the very device they used to detect it. The authors, along with a few other researchers, have published that subsequent finding on the physics preprint server, arXiv.

Here’s the retraction note:
Continue reading Science retracts physics paper after magnetic field wasn’t what it seemed

Can journals get hijacked? Apparently, yes

science pic.mag.current-issueDid you recently log onto your favorite journal’s website and see this? (For anyone who doesn’t want to bother clicking, it’s the video from Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”) If so, your favorite journal was hijacked.

In today’s issue of Science, John Bohannon (who recently published a bogus study about the benefits of chocolate) explains how easy it is to take over a journal’s website — so easy, in fact, that he did it himself. And he’s not the only one, he reports: Continue reading Can journals get hijacked? Apparently, yes

“Carelessness” forces Science to correct paper about immune booster

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Science is fixing images in a paper published online in April that discovered an immune-boosting protein, after the authors mistakenly mixed up similar-looking Western blots.

The paper, which received some press coverage, identified a protein that helped the immune system fight off cancers and infections. Philip Ashton-Rickardt, a scientist at Imperial College London who led the study, told the The Telegraph:

This is exciting because we have found a completely different way to use the immune system to fight cancer.

The editor in chief of Science, Marcia McNutt, told us that the journal contacted the authors once it learned of “irregularities” in some of the figures, which did not affect the conclusions of the paper:

Authors pull Science paper on molecular wires for “inappropriate data handling”

pic.mag.current-issueThis week’s issue of Science includes a retraction of a highly cited paper about manipulating the current in a string of molecules with a magnet, after an investigation by the co-authors revealed “inappropriate data handling” by the first author.

According to the note, the co-authors’ suspicions arose when they tried to follow-up on the data. Following a “thorough investigation,” they concluded that first author Rabindra N. Mahato had handled the data in such a way that they could no longer trust the conclusions. In the end, Mahato agreed to the retraction.

Here’s more from the note: Continue reading Authors pull Science paper on molecular wires for “inappropriate data handling”

Science Signaling corrects data fudged by former UCSF student

afbb251f8bc8f71e26b313c77669d48fA paper containing data fudged by former University of California San Francisco grad student Peter Littlefield has been corrected. We knew that this was coming — last month, the Office of Research Integrity issued a report that Littlefield had admitted to misconduct, and agreed to a retraction or correction of the two affected papers.

Published in Science Signaling, “Structural analysis of the /HER3 heterodimer reveals the molecular basis for activating HER3 mutations” examined the structural details of a protein associated with cancer. It has been cited two times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

According to the correction note, the concentration of a protein presented in one figure was “miscalculated;” in another figure, the error bars were “calculated incorrectly.”

A statement from the UCSF affirmed that principle investigator Natalie Jura has “not been implicated in any research misconduct finding,” and explains that Continue reading Science Signaling corrects data fudged by former UCSF student

NSF investigation of high-profile plant retractions ends in two debarments

Jorge Vivanco
Jorge Vivanco

A nearly ten-year-long series of investigations into a pair of plant physiologists who received millions in funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation has resulted in debarments of less than two years for each of the researchers.

The NSF Office of Inspector General recently posted its close-out report on its decision and a review of the University’s investigation, which had recommended a total of eight retractions or corrections. Although the investigator’s names have been redacted, the text of retractions and corrections quoted in the report corresponds to papers by Continue reading NSF investigation of high-profile plant retractions ends in two debarments