In an excellent blow-by-blow account in Science of the nearly 20-year-long saga, also out today, Jon Cohen and Martin Enserink review the unusual circumstances of that Expression of Concern. Science editor-in-chief Bruce
Alberts and Science Executive Editor Monica Bradford had first suggested that Mikovits and her co-authors retract the paper voluntarily. “Science feels it would be in the best interest of the scientific community,” they wrote in a 26 May letter. Mikovits was livid and questioned Alberts’s motives. “Who wrote that letter? I don’t think it was Science,” she says. The co-authors thought the retraction request was premature, too. “What if we walk away from this based on contamination and it’s not contamination?” Lombardi asked. “You’ve got to give us time to figure this out.”
Alberts stresses that they floated the retraction idea because Science already planned to publish the Expression of Concern. “It wasn’t a public call for retraction,” he notes, emphasizing that the recipients shared it with the media. He also does not think it would have been premature, although he says it’s often a tough call whether to retract a paper. “Ultimately, it requires expert judgment and a lot of sensitivity to the issues,” he says. “We had lost confidence in the results.”
Careful Retraction Watch readers may have noticed that one of the categories in our right-hand column under “by reason for retraction” is “lack of IRB approval.” That’s because in just over a year, we’ve written a number of posts about two cases of retractions for that reason.
She bases the stories on Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) documents obtained under a freedom of information request. NSERC — which provides $1 billion per year for research — seems to have gone far out of its way to keep the names of the researchers a secret.
In one set of heavily redacted documents, however, they did mention a December 2008 retraction. As Retraction Watch readers know, we investigate retractions…well, not exactly for a living, but we sure spend a lot of time doing it. So we threw ourselves at our favorite database and made some connections.
We’ve been reporting on the case of Zhiguo Wang, the Montreal Heart Institute researcher who was dismissed earlier this month for scientific misconduct. In the announcement about Wang’s dismissal, the institute said it had requested the retraction of three papers other than the two that Wang had himself retracted earlier this summer, making a total of five.
We noticed the other day that Weber’s name had disappeared from the Walden website and put in a call to the institution. A source there told us that Weber — a part-time faculty member who had been hoping for a full-time appointment at the school — apologized when confronted about the fraud.
Ten days ago, we reported on the dismissal of Zhiguo Wang, a Montreal Heart Institute researcher who had already retracted two papers because of image manipulation. At the time, an official said the institute had requested three more retractions, but when we asked which three papers, we were told:
As written in the press release, the MHI has requested the retraction of three additional scientific articles. We will not be able to confirm the name of the scientific articles and/or publications until confirmation of the retractions.