Authors retract 2016 cancer study when data don’t align with figures

cell-death-and-differentiationResearchers have retracted a 2016 cancer study, citing discrepancies between the data and images presented in the paper. 

Although the retraction notice itself contains relatively little information, we’ve obtained a letter from the last author — Jun-Li Luo of The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida — to the editor-in-chief of Cell Death and Differentiation that says a bit more. 

According to the letter, after receiving the anonymous email, Luo conducted an investigation, contacting co-authors who contributed each of the figures in question. Although Luo writes that he has no reason to suspect fraud, the researchers were not able to provide some of the original data.

PubPeer commenters have questioned figures 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the study, “IKKα-mediated biogenesis of miR-196a through interaction with Drosha regulates the sensitivity of cancer cells to radiotherapy.”

In the letter, Luo tells Gerry Melino, co-editor-in-chief of the journal from the University of Leicester, UK, that figures 3D and 3E were provided by the study’s first author, Xing Fang, adding: Continue reading Authors retract 2016 cancer study when data don’t align with figures

When does “overlap” become plagiarism? Here’s what PLOS ONE decided

PLOSOne

Consider this: Fragments of a PLOS ONE paper overlap with pieces of other publications. The authors used them without credit and without quotation marks.

This sounds an awful lot like plagiarism — using PLOS‘s own standards, even. But the journal isn’t calling it plagiarism. They’ve labeled this an instance of “text overlap,” a spokesperson told us, based on the amount of material that the paper shares with others.

The last author — Carlo Croce, who has two retractions under his belt — denies that he plagiarized, and says that his university has cleared him of a plagiarism charge from an anonymous whistleblower.

PLOS fixed this case last year with a correction notice — not the common course of action for a case of confirmed plagiarism. Take a look at the notice for yourself:

Continue reading When does “overlap” become plagiarism? Here’s what PLOS ONE decided

How can we improve preclinical research? Advice from a diabetes researcher

Daniel Drucker
Daniel Drucker

By all accounts, science is facing a crisis: Too many preclinical studies aren’t reproducible, leading to wasted time and effort by researchers around the world. Today in Cell Metabolism, Daniel Drucker at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto details numerous ways to make this early research more robust. His most important advice: more transparent reporting of all results (not just the positive findings), along with quantifying, reporting, tracking, and rewarding reproducibility, for both scientists and journals and universities/research institutes.

Retraction Watch: Which of your recommendations will researchers most object to, and why? Continue reading How can we improve preclinical research? Advice from a diabetes researcher

Former NIH postdoc doctored data

ori-logoA genetics researcher included falsified data in two published papers, according to a report by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) released today.

At the time of the misconduct, Andrew Cullinane was a postdoctoral fellow in the Medical Genetics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). According to his LinkedIn page, he is now an assistant professor at Howard University in Washington D.C. The university’s College of Medicine lists him as an assistant professor in the Basic Sciences/Anatomy department.

As today’s notice in the Federal Register reports, Cullinane Continue reading Former NIH postdoc doctored data

Beleaguered plant scientist with 22 corrections avoids 3 more

CellCell will not be issuing corrections for three papers co-authored by prominent plant biologist Olivier Voinnet, after readers on PubPeer raised questions about some of the images. 

The news may be a welcome relief for Voinnet, based at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, who has recently issued 22 corrections and seven retractions. Ongoing questions about his work have also earned him a three-year funding ban, and caused the European Molecular Biology Organization to revoke an award.

On July 28, Cell published editorial notes for all three papers, which have been collectively cited more than 1000 times (also reported by Leonid Schneider). The notes say that the journal will take “no further action,” noting that the authors of the papers informed Cell of the problems with figures, which do not appear to compromise the papers’ overall validity.  

Here’s the first editorial notefor a 1998 paper: Continue reading Beleaguered plant scientist with 22 corrections avoids 3 more

Cell Press dismisses fraud allegations in high-profile genetics papers

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 18.54.35Cell Press has dismissed accusations of image manipulation in two well-cited papers. 

In June 2015, we reported that the publisher was investigating anonymous allegations of more than a dozen instances of manipulation of images in the papers published in Cell and Molecular Cell in 1999 and 2001, respectively. 

After assessing the original high-resolution versions of images from the laboratory notebook of Maria Pia Cosma, the first author of both papers, the journals have not found enough evidence to determine that fraud had occurred. 

Here’s the editorial note, issued last week for both papers (and also reported by Leonid Schneider): Continue reading Cell Press dismisses fraud allegations in high-profile genetics papers

“We were completely shocked:” Plant biologists issue mega-correction

Plant Cell cover

Plant biologists have issued a major correction (what we dub “mega“) after realizing a significant mistake in their experiment.

The 2014 paper shows that a protein known as RAP plays a key role in chloroplast biogenesis. But as Ludwig Maximilians University-based authors Alexandra-Viola Bohne and Laura Kleinknecht continued to do their research, they found an error in the design of primers they used to synthesize the RNA for their experiments — and told us they are concerned other researchers could run into the same problem.

Although the authors considered retracting the paper, since its main conclusion was unaffected, they issued a correction notice, published in April in Plant Cell:

Continue reading “We were completely shocked:” Plant biologists issue mega-correction

Authors pull Mol Cell paper for “inappropriate manipulation” of data

Molecular CellThe authors of a Molecular Cell paper have retracted it due to issues with multiple figures — including one with evidence of “intentional misconduct.”

According to the authors’ institution, IMIM in Barcelona, all co-authors are aware of the retraction. The penultimate author — Antonio García de Herrerosretracted three papers in May from the Journal of Biological Chemistry for reusing images to represent different experiments, and recently corrected multiple figures in a Journal of Cell Science paper over “possible duplications and/or splices.”

Here’s the newest retraction notice: Continue reading Authors pull Mol Cell paper for “inappropriate manipulation” of data

Authors reused images in three papers, concludes journal probe

JBCBiologists are retracting three papers after the journal concluded they contain reused images, designed to represent different experiments. The authors stand by the conclusions, some of which they say have been “extensively validated.”

The Journal of Biological Chemistry used image analysis software to evaluate the images, first published at least a decade ago. Unfortunately, the raw data behind the problematic images were not available. The authors have also corrected a fourth paper in another journal, and wrote on PubPeer that they are working with journals to address concerns in three more.

The papers share two authors: Mireia Duñach at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Antonio García de Herreros at the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques. A representative of the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques told us it is looking into Garcia de Herreros’s work.

We’ll start with “β-Catenin N- and C-terminal tails modulate the coordinated binding of adherens junction proteins to β-catenin,” which has been cited 45 times since it was published in 2002, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. The retraction notice says:

Continue reading Authors reused images in three papers, concludes journal probe

Grad student who confessed to falsifying data barred from government funding

ori-logoNearly five months after a graduate student at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine spontaneously confessed to cooking data, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) said today that she has agreed to exclude herself from receiving government funding for three years.

According to the ORI, Meredyth Forbes: Continue reading Grad student who confessed to falsifying data barred from government funding