Strange Scientific Journal Retraction Practices

Check out the text of this recent retraction in Nature Cell Biology:

We regret the lack of integrity of exemplar data in Figures 2–4 in this publication. The irregularities have been investigated by the co-authors and Vanderbilt University in collaboration with the US PHS Office of Research Integrity, and the investigation concluded that exemplar data in this publication were fabricated ( We have therefore decided to retract the publication and have been unable to contact the first author, Igor Dzhura, to sign the retraction statement.

The science showing CaMKII activates CaV1.2 Ca2+ channels and facilitates CaV1.2 current is now extensively validated, so our view is that the overall conclusions from this paper are valid. We apologize to the scientific community for any inconveniences or challenges resulting from the publication and retraction of this manuscript.

Emphasis added. Why do journals let fuckers like this routinely claim in retractions that they got lucky and their conclusions based on fraudulent data turned out to be sound, because other subsequent published studies turned out to be consistent? (This kind of thing is pretty common in retractions.)

This means that the editors are allowing a scientific claim to be published in their journal without subjecting that claim to peer review. And the authors whose unvetted scientific claim they are publishing have already proven by virtue of the retraction that their claims going forward should be subject to extraordinary scrutiny!


  1. DaveUK says

    It’s a standard statement that is in almost all retractions. It shouldn’t be allowed at all, and I have no idea why journals allow it. There is the small issue of publication bias as well following a big finding in a high-profile journal. Just because there are other studies out there that came after yours that ‘validate’ your findings, it does not mean the original data is correct……at……all.

    A classic example of this at the moment is the case of Irisin:

  2. Chebag says

    Trying to retain that priority claim, right?

    Agreed journals shouldn’t do this but look, it lets *them* off the hook too. Of course they are going to go along with this sort of thing.

  3. minxatlarge says

    Since the financial incentives for research were changed in the early 1980s (thanks a lot, Neoliberal Reaganomics via Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981) there’s been a small pool of corporate money (and a tinier pool of public money) that everyone chases. Consequently, most official research proceeds only after everyone is pretty sure of the results to expect. That’s why following studies ‘validate’ the ‘original’ research. As DaveUK pointed out…publication bias, blah, blah and etc. But what’s really stifling R&D is our lack of funding for public research.

    Instead of incentivizing financial shenanigans, we could PUT OUR OLD TAX SYSTEM BACK. Tax the top bracket at at least 50% (per IMF suggestions) and let scientists decide policy guidelines for funding public research. (Not that any of us enjoys applying for grants.) In my (unoriginal) opinion, our delusional flirtation with Neolib Economics has led not only to massive income inequality and infrastructure deterioration, but has also stifled innovation, especially in theoretical research.

    I’ve attempted to state my opinion as simply as possible, but I’m almost certain that someone can say it more elegantly.

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