Do the right thing: 11 Courageous Retractions

The Authorea Team

Retraction Watch is a blog that tracks retractions in science -- and it's probably a site you never want your research to be on. To many, retracting your work means that you've committed fraud, and in most cases can be the end of a researcher's career. However, that's not always the case: in fact, retracting your work for the right reasons can even be good for your career and good for science (Lu 2013). Retraction Watch highlights cases where scientists did not retract their work due to fraud, but rather because it was "the right thing."  Here we take the opportunity to further highlight these pieces and the courageous scientists that did the right thing despite an enormous stigma.

We believe the future of scholarly communication will be more dynamic than it is today. By definition, this will require more corrections and retractions.  Authorea was built to show the full history of a document, from creation to final publication. We allow annotations of the literature and believe that a more dynamic and robust form of communication is the future -- it's what we're building. Join us!

1. “Immunology: Ways around rejection” (Vaux 1995)
I wish to point out that I no longer stand by the views reported in my News and Views article “Immunology: Ways around rejection” (Vaux 1995), which dealt with a paper in the same issue (“A role for CD95 ligand in preventing graft rejection” by D. Bellgrau et al. — Bellgrau 1995). My colleagues and I have been unable to reproduce some of the results of Bellgrauet al., as reported by J. Allison et al. (Allison 1997).

2. "Mer receptor tyrosine kinase is a novel therapeutic target in pediatric B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia" (Linger 2009)
The authors retract the 24 September 2009 article cited above, prepublished on 30 July 2009. They have recently learned that some of the cell lines used in their paper were inadvertently misidentified. Although the parental 697 and REH cell lines used to generate the Mer knockdown lines were authenticated by short tandem repeat (STR) analysis before publication, the transduced progeny were not analyzed until recently. The results of STR analysis indicate that the 697 shMer1A and 697 shMer1B cell lines are actually derived from the REH parental cell line. Importantly, the identities of the other 6 REH and 697 cell lines published in this study have been verified as authentic.Since this unfortunate discovery, the authors have generated new 697 Mer knockdown cell lines and authenticated their identity. These new cell lines are being used to replicate the original work. Data obtained to date support the overall findings and conclusions of the original report; these data will be described in a new manuscript. The authors sincerely apologize to the readers, reviewers, and editors of Blood for making this honest mistake.

3. "Demographic faultlines: A meta-analysis of the literature" (Demographic faultline...)
Reports the retraction of "Demographic faultlines: A meta-analysis of the literature" by Sherry M. B. Thatcher and Pankaj C. Patel (Journal of Applied Psychology, 2011[Nov], Vol 96[6], 1119-1139). At the request of the editor and in consultation with the American Psychological Association, the article is being retracted. This action is a result of a review by the editor and two additional experts that determined that there are significant errors in Tables 1, 2, and 3 which may affect the overall conclusions of the article. Co-author Pankaj C. Patel led the analysis, and both authors acknowledge that inaccuracies were made. The retraction of this article does not preclude resubmission of a new article that addresses the issues noted in the retraction. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2011-12686-001.) We propose and test a theoretical model focusing on antecedents and consequences of demographic faultlines. We also posit contingencies that affect overall team dynamics in the context of demographic faultlines, such as the study setting and performance measurement. Using meta-analysis structural equation modeling with a final data set consisting of 311 data points (i.e., k [predictor–criterion relationships]), from 39 studies that were obtained from 36 papers with a total sample size of 24,388 individuals in 4,366 teams, we found that sex and racial diversity increased demographic faultline strength more than did diversity on the attributes of functional background, educational background, age, and tenure. Demographic faultline strength was found to increase task and relationship conflict as well as decrease team cohesion. Furthermore, although demographic faultline strength decreased both team satisfaction and team performance, there was a stronger decrease in team performance than in team satisfaction. The strength of these relationships increased when the study was conducted in the lab rather than in the field. We describe the theoretical and practical implications of these findings for advancing the study of faultlines. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

4. "Individualistic sensitivities and exposure to climate change explain variation in species’ distribution and abundance changes" (Palmer 2015)
In our recent Research Article “Individualistic sensitivities and exposure to climate change explain variation in species’ distribution and abundance changes” (1), we presented an analysis relating species-specific measures of sensitivity and exposure to climate, to species’ recent population changes. While our measure and interpretation of species’ climate sensitivity remain correct, we now recognize our interpretation of the exposure measure was inaccurate: Our climate models included an intercept, representing a nonzero average population growth rate; thus, the exposure measure incorporated not only climate effects but other nonclimatic—and potentially unmeasured climatic—effects as well. While our results still demonstrate that a significant proportion of variation in population trends can be explained by exposure and sensitivity, the correct interpretation of the exposure measure means that the explained variation is not solely due to climate. As such, our conclusion that a large proportion of variation in population changes can be explained by individualistic responses to climate is misleading. Given this, and to avoid confusion, we are wholly retracting the Research Article, and we apologize that this was not picked up sooner.

5. "Kidney Function and Rate of Bone Loss at the Hip and Spine: The Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study" (Jamal 2010)
This article has been retracted at the request of coauthors Victoria J.D. Swan, Jacques P. Brown, David A. Hanley, Jerilynn C. Prior, Alexandra Papaioannou, Lisa Langsetmo, and Robert G. Josse, on behalf of the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study Research Group. Following the finding of “data falsification and/or fabrication” by the first author, Dr Sophie A. Jamal, in an article published in JAMA1 thereafter retracted,2 the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study Group (CaMos) conducted an investigation of the CaMos manuscripts for which Dr Jamal was the first or responsible author. Dr Jamal, formerly the Co-Director of the Toronto CaMos Centre, was responsible for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis in this article. Dr David Goltzman, Principal Investigator of CaMos, informed AJKD that the CaMos investigation found inconsistencies in this article that are difficult to reconcile with the CaMos source data; moreover, the investigation determined that the results of the reanalysis do not support the conclusions as originally published. Dr Jamal, who was both first and corresponding author, has declined to provide any comments or further information. Based on the CaMos investigation, Dr Goltzman, on behalf of co-authors Swan, Brown, Hanley, Prior, Papaioannou, Langsetmo, and Josse, contacted AJKD to ask that this article be retracted. Drs Goltzman, Swan, Brown, Hanley, Prior, Papaioannou, Langsetmo, and Josse recognize the seriousness of this issue; apologize unreservedly to the editors, reviewers, and readers of AJKD; and are committed to the integrity of the biomedical literature and believe there is no risk that these possibly invalid conclusions harmed CaMos participants or patients with osteoporosis.

6. "Impact of weight loss diet associated with flaxseed on inflammatory markers in men with cardiovascular risk factors: a clinical study" (Cassani 2015)
The Editor is retracting this article [1] because of concerns raised after publication with respect to the methods and the statistical analysis [2] which the authors have not been able to adequately address [2]. We apologise to all affected parties for the inconvenience caused. All authors support this retraction.

7. "The impact of anesthesiologists on coronary artery bypass graft surgery outcomes" (Glance 2015)
As explained by Glance and Dick, the findings of the 2015 article “The Impact of Anesthesiologists on Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery Outcomes” are incorrect because of flawed statistical analysis. The article is therefore retracted. The data in the retracted article are a subset of a revised analysis appearing in this issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia. The authors’ diligence in identifying the error and correcting the analysis is acknowledged with appreciation.

8. "Effect of cognitive therapy with antidepressant medications vs antidepressants alone on the rate of recovery in major depressive disorder: a randomized clinical trial" (Hollon 2014)
We write to report that we have discovered a number of pervasive errors in our published trial comparing recovery rates for major depressive disorder with cognitive therapy and medication vs medication alone (Effect of Cognitive Therapy With Antidepressant Medications vs Antidepressants Alone on the Rate of Recovery in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(10):1157-1164).

9. "Automated 3D feature matching" (Chuang 2015)
The article ‘Automated 3D feature matching’ by Tzu-Yi Chuang and Jen-Jer Jaw, published in The Photogrammetric Record, 30(149): 8-29 and placed online on 12th February 2015 in Wiley Online Library ( has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor (Stuart Granshaw), The Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society, and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The retraction is due to the inclusion of unattributed material, especially relating to the equations, which have appeared in equivalent forms in previous publications. The basic theory behind the formulation was mainly developed and explicitly formulated in Han (2010a), Han (2010b), Han et al. (2011), Han and Jaw (2013) and Han et al. (2014). These papers already established in detail similar theory, developing comparable equations necessary for estimating the rotation, scale and translation parameters as proposed in the RSTG approach in the Chuang and Jaw (2015) paper in the The Photogrammetric Record. The use of multiple geometric features and the quality assessment based on distance and angular discrepancies have also been discussed at length in these previous publications. These papers, listed below, should therefore have been cited by the authors to attribute work already published in the literature.

10. "Women’s preference for attractive makeup tracks changes in their salivary testosterone" (Fisher 2015)
Our article reported linear mixed models showing interactive effects of testosterone level and perceived makeup attractiveness on women’s makeup preferences. These models did not include random slopes for the term perceived makeup attractiveness, and we have now learned that the Type 1 error rate can be inflated when by-subject random slopes are not included (Barr, Levy, Scheepers, & Tily, 2013). Because the interactions were not significant in reanalyses that addressed this issue, we are retracting this article from the journal.

11. "Visualization of Lipid Metabolism in the Zebrafish Intestine Reveals a Relationship between NPC1L1-Mediated Cholesterol Uptake and Dietary Fatty Acid" (Walters 2012)
In our original Resource, we reported a regulatory link between NPC1L1-mediated cholesterol uptake and dietary fatty acid in zebrafish larvae. In the absence of dietary long-chain fatty acids (LCFA), larval enterocytes failed to internalize luminal BODIPY-cholesterol. We attributed this LCFA dependence to the cholesterol transport protein NPC1L1, as dietary LCFAs were shown to induce the translocation of transgenic human NPC1L1 from a perinuclear compartment to the intestinal brush border (supported by the data shown in Figure 5 of the Resource). When overexpressed, human NPC1L1 localized to the brush border, where it was able to mediate the internalization of BODIPY-cholesterol even in the absence of dietary LCFAs (Figure 5). We also reported that NPC1L1 directly mediates cholesterol uptake by larval enterocytes (shown in Figure 6 of the Resource). However, we recently discovered that the larval expression of the human NPC1L1 transgenic construct hsp70:HsNPC1L1-mCherry we reported was in fact that ofhsp70:mCherryCAAX, which encodes an mCherry fluorophore modified with a prenylation motif. When employing a recloned hsp70:HsNPC1L1-mCherry vector, our experiments failed to replicate the LCFA-induced translocation of NPC1L1 to the intestinal brush border, indicating that the findings reported in Figures 5 and 6 are no longer valid. Our conclusions regarding zebrafish intestinal lipid droplet formation and depletion when given a high-fat meal, BODIPY-fatty acid incorporation into LDs, and BODIPY-cholesterol localization to the endocytic compartment of enterocytes, distinct from LDs, are not affected by this mistake. Additionally, the finding that dietary cholesterol absorption is dependent on luminal long-chain fatty acids is also unaffected. All of these experiments (Figures 1–4 in the Resource) were performed using zebrafish lines that did not contain the incorrect construct mentioned above. Nonetheless, given that some of the core mechanistic conclusions we presented are no longer valid due to the use of the wrong construct, we are now retracting the paper. We apologize to the community if our error caused any significant confusion or inconvenience.


  1. Susan Feng Lu, Ginger Zhe Jin, Brian Uzzi, Benjamin Jones. The Retraction Penalty: Evidence from the Web of Science. Sci. Rep. 3 Nature Publishing Group, 2013. Link

  2. David L. Vaux. Ways around rejection. Nature 377, 576–577 Nature Publishing Group, 1995. Link

  3. Donald Bellgrau, Daniel Gold, Helena Selawry, Jodene Moore, Alex Franzusoff, Richard C. Duke. A role for CD95 ligand in preventing graft rejection. Nature 377, 630–632 Nature Publishing Group, 1995. Link

  4. J. Allison, H. M. Georgiou, A. Strasser, D. L. Vaux. Transgenic expression of CD95 ligand on islet   cells induces a granulocytic infiltration but does not confer immune privilege upon islet allografts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 94, 3943–3947 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1997. Link

  5. R. M. A. Linger, D. DeRyckere, L. Brandao, K. K. Sawczyn, K. M. Jacobsen, X. Liang, A. K. Keating, D. K. Graham. Mer receptor tyrosine kinase is a novel therapeutic target in pediatric B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Blood 114, 2678–2687 American Society of Hematology, 2009. Link

  6. Demographic faultlines: A meta-analysis of the literature: Retraction of Thatcher and Patel (2011).. Journal of Applied Psychology 101, 1150–1150 American Psychological Association (APA), 2016. Link

  7. G. Palmer, J. K. Hill, T. M. Brereton, D. R. Brooks, J. W. Chapman, R. Fox, T. H. Oliver, C. D. Thomas. Individualistic sensitivities and exposure to climate change explain variation in species distribution and abundance changes. Science Advances 1, e1400220–e1400220 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2015. Link

  8. Sophie A. Jamal, Victoria J.D. Swan, Jacques P. Brown, David A. Hanley, Jerilynn C. Prior, Alexandra Papaioannou, Lisa Langsetmo, Robert G. Josse. RETRACTED: Kidney Function and Rate of Bone Loss at the Hip and Spine: The Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study. American Journal of Kidney Diseases 55, 291–299 Elsevier BV, 2010. Link

  9. Roberta Soares Cassani, Priscila Fassini, Jose Silvah, Cristiane Maria Lima, Júlio Marchini. Impact of weight loss diet associated with flaxseed on inflammatory markers in men with cardiovascular risk factors: a clinical study. Nutrition Journal 14, 5 Springer Science \(\mathplus\) Business Media, 2015. Link

  10. Laurent G. Glance, Arthur L. Kellermann, Edward L. Hannan, Lee A. Fleisher, Michael P. Eaton, Richard P. Dutton, Stewart J. Lustik, Yue Li, Andrew W. Dick. The Impact of Anesthesiologists on Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery Outcomes. Anesthesia & Analgesia 120, 526–533 Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health), 2015. Link

  11. Steven D. Hollon, Robert J. DeRubeis, Jan Fawcett, Jay D. Amsterdam, Richard C. Shelton, John Zajecka, Paula R. Young, Robert Gallop. Effect of Cognitive Therapy With Antidepressant Medications vs Antidepressants Alone on the Rate of Recovery in Major Depressive Disorder. JAMA Psychiatry 71, 1157 American Medical Association (AMA), 2014. Link

  12. Tzu-Yi Chuang, Jen-Jer Jaw. Automated 3d feature matching. The Photogrammetric Record 30, 8–29 Wiley-Blackwell, 2015. Link

  13. C. I. Fisher, A. C. Hahn, L. M. DeBruine, B. C. Jones. RETRACTED: Womens Preference for Attractive Makeup Tracks Changes in Their Salivary Testosterone. Psychological Science 26, 1958–1964 SAGE Publications, 2015. Link

  14. James W. Walters, Jennifer L. Anderson, Robert Bittman, Michael Pack, Steven A. Farber. RETRACTED: Visualization of lipid metabolism in the zebrafish intestine reveals a relationship between NPC1L1-mediated cholesterol uptake and dietary fatty acid. Chemistry & Biology 19, 913–925 Elsevier BV, 2012. Link

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