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.

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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.