Retraction retraction watch

The Retraction Watch blog reports the case of a retraction of a retraction of a research study:

Bitter legal fight leads to a retracted retraction

Two years ago, the FASEB Journal retracted a paper that it had initially agreed to correct, after a dean at one of the author’s institutions said that a “well-recognized and top-class fact finding commission concluded that the publication contains gross flaws.” The retraction of the 2003 paper, as we noted at the time, punctuated a complicated case involving several investigations as well as legal maneuvering.

faseb-june-2013Now, the journal has retracted the retraction. Here’s the beginning of the notice:

“Regarding the article titled, “Molecular analysis of Nogo expression in the hippocampus during development and following lesion and seizure,” by Susan Meier, Anja U. Bräuer, Bernd Heimrich, Martin E. Schwab, Robert Nitsch, and Nicolai E. Savaskan, published in the June 2003 issue of The FASEB Journal (FASEB J., 2003 Jun;17(9):1153—1155; doi:10.1096/fj.02-0453fje)….”

This could be the end of the story — or it could be just the beginning two chapters. There is a possibility — a possibility, mind you — that the retracted retraction will again be retracted. Spectators eagerly wonder: will this become that rare kind of case, a retraction retraction retraction?

BONUS (thanks to investigator Mark Siegel for bringing this to our attention): Hilda Bastien, in her Absolutely Maybe blog, writes about the larger context of this:

Bad research rising: The 7th Olympiad of research on biomedical publication

What do the editors of medical journals talk about when they get together? So far today, it’s been a fascinating but rather grim mixture of research that can’t be replicated, dodgy authorship, plagiarism and duplicate papers, and the general rottenness of citations as a measure of scientific impact.

We’re getting to listen and join in the editors’ discussion this week in Chicago. They assemble once every four years to chew over academic research on scientific publishing and debate ideas. This tradition was started by JAMA in Chicago in 1989. The name of the international congress still goes by its original pre-eminent concern, “peer review and biomedical publication.” But the academic basis for peer review is a small part of what’s discussed these days.