Retractions are a scientist's worst nightmare. In the last 10 years, at least 788 scientific papers have been pulled from the literature, according to a study linkurl:published this year in the Journal of Medical Ethics
.;http://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2010/10/18/jme.2010.038125.abstract Whether it is a result of research misconduct, duplicate publication, or simply sloppy data analysis, a retracted paper can devastate a scientist's research, or even impact a whole scientific field.
Here are 10 of the biggest retraction stories of the last year.
Highly cited retractions
|Image: Wikimedia commons, Tttrung|
5. The mechanism of estrogen signaling -- that wasn't (232 citations)
Two papers on the mechanism of estrogen signaling linkurl:were retracted;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57380/ after a former Wyeth employee, Boris Cheskis, was found to have unreliable data. The papers, published in linkurl:PNAS
and one in linkurl:Molecular and Cellular Biology
,;http://mcb.asm.org/cgi/content/full/30/6/1568 were together cited 232 times.
4. 10+ retractions from one Mayo lab (268 citations)
A senior research associate in an immunology lab at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, linkurl:was found guilty;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57449/ of falsifying nearly a decade's worth of data, resulting in at least 10 retractions and the cancellation of a clinical trial. The researcher, Suresh Radhakrishnan, did not admit to the misconduct, and subsequently linkurl:authored an opinion article;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57557/ for The Scientist
arguing that he, and others in his position, should not be blacklisted from science. The retracted publications accrued at least 268 citations.
3. I am a Rhodes Scholar...or not (perhaps up to 300 citations)
Duke researcher Anil Potti posed as a Rhodes Scholar and apparently invented the statistical analyses used in his research on how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy. Last month, the Journal of Clinical Oncology
pulled linkurl:his 2007 paper,;http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/25/28/4350/suppl/DC2 cited 50 times, and one of Potti's collaborators has requested the retraction of a 2006 linkurl:Nature Medicine
paper.;http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v12/n11/full/nm1491.html The paper, cited 253 times, has already been the subject of two corrections, linkurl:according to Retraction Watch
.;http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/another-update-on-anil-potti-co-author-asks-nature-medicine-to-retract-paper/ Potti has since stepped down from his position at Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy.
2. Stem cells turn cancerous? (317 citations)
linkurl:A 2005 Cancer Research
paper,;http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/65/8/3035.abstract which suggested that adult stem cells can spontaneously turn into cancerous cells and held safety implications for the use of such cells in research, was retracted in August. The actual finding may still be valid, however, as several other studies have found similar results, linkurl:according to Retraction Watch
.;http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/its-not-a-tumor-authors-retract-2005-cancer-research-paper-linking-adult-stem-cells-to-cancer/ The paper was cited 317 times.
1. There is no autism-vaccine link. We repeat, there is no autism-vaccine link (640 citations)
In February, linkurl:The Lancet
pulled;http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/846.page a linkurl:controversial study;http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2897%2911096-0/abstract published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues. Based on a sample of 12 children, the authors claimed to have found a link between autism and the widely used MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination. Ten of the paper's 13 authors had already acknowledged some of the problems with the paper, publishing a "retraction of an interpretation" in 2004. The paper was cited 640 times.
Most notable retractors
5. Researchers retract reactome
A powerful new tool known as linkurl:the reactome,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56266/ developed by Manuel Ferrer of the CSIC Institute of Catalysis in Madrid and Peter Golyshin of Bangor University in the UK and collaborators, claimed to assess the functionality of hundreds of active proteins simultaneously, and stirred much excitement among the scientific community. But not long after its linkurl:publication last October in Science
,;http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5950/252.abstract its validity was called into question. Though it has many supporters, including linkurl:Nobel Laureate Richard Roberts of New England Biolabs,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57615/ Science
published an "'Editorial Expression of Concern" in January of this year, and finally retracted the paper in November, after an investigating committee convened by CSIC found that it did not provide sufficient evidence for its conclusions. It was cited 18 times in its short tenure in the literature.
4. A whoops from gene therapy expert
As a result of data irregularities and duplicated figures, six papers by notable gene therapy researcher Savio Woo of The Mount Sinai Medical Center were retracted this year, including two that claimed to have found potential breakthroughs -- even a possible cure -- for high-mortality diseases such as pancreatic cancer, linkurl:according to Retraction Watch
.;http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/work-from-noted-gene-therapy-research-under-scrutiny-with-slew-of-retractions/ The papers, published in linkurl:Molecular;http://www.nature.com/mt/journal/v18/n12/full/mt2010198a.html linkurl:Therapy
,;http://www.pnas.org/content/102/43/15581 the linkurl:Journal of the National Cancer Institute
;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2720732/ and linkurl:Human Gene Therapy
,;http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829288/?tool=pubmedpaper were cited a total of 60 times.
3. Cognition expert takes hard look at his data
Well-known psychologist and author of the book "Moral Minds" Marc Hauser is taking a year of leave from his position at Harvard University after an internal investigation found linkurl:evidence of scientific misconduct.;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57730/ The questionable data also led to the retraction of a linkurl:2002 Cognition
paper,;http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T24-46MBHN2-7&_user=10&_coverDate=11%2F30%2F2002&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=ea02f877a69d5ab04c3fbfd3ebb3b742 cited 38 times, which demonstrated that, like human infants, cotton-top tamarins have the capacity to generalize patterns.
2. Rising stem cell star stumbles
Amy Wagers, a stem cell biologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, retracted a linkurl:2010 Nature
paper,;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7280/full/nature08749.html cited 13 times, that found factors in the blood of young mice could rejuvenate blood stem cells in older mice after linkurl:discovering issues with the data,;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57748/ including a duplicated figure. A second paper, linkurl:published in Blood
;http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/cgi/content/short/112/3/519 and cited 28 times, is under review. Wagers, a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, was dubbed a linkurl:"Scientist to Watch";http://www.the-scientist.com/2008/01/1/57/1/ by The Scientist
in 2008. While a postdoc in Irving Weissman's lab, she earned a reputation for putting other people's findings to the test. She is the author of a series of highly cited papers in the stem cell field, including a 2002 Science
paper cited 828 times, a 2004 Nature
paper cited 727 times, and a 2004 Cell
paper cited 412 times.
1. More retractions from Nobelist
Nobel Laureate Linda Buck linkurl:retracted two papers;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57699/ from prominent journals because she was "unable to reproduce [the] key findings" of experiments done by a former postdoc, according to a statement made by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), where Buck worked at the time of the publications. The retractions, a linkurl:2006 Science
paper;http://www.sciencemag.org/content/311/5766/1477.abstract?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Combinatorial+Effects+of+Odorant+Mixes+in+Olfactory+Cortex&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT and a 2005 linkurl:PNAS
paper,;http://www.pnas.org/content/107/40/17451.extract?sid=ed6b3a62-2baa-407a-9af8-2f21a76759fa are tied to yet another Buck retraction -- a linkurl:2001 Nature
paper;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v414/n6860/full/414173a0.html that she pulled in 2008 for similar reasons. The three retracted papers have been cited 291 times.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:High-profile paper retracted;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57748/
[15th October 2010]*linkurl:More retractions from Nobelist;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57699/
[23rd September 2010]*linkurl:10 retractions and counting;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57449/
[26th May 2010]