Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

'Surprising' Results, Suspicion, and Silence

An editorial in Nature this week that outlines the journal's correction and retractions policy following investigations of suspicious data has blogger Ms. PhD at YoungFemaleScientist "wondering." She gives two examples of misconduct, about which she "know[s] about peripherally" that haven't been investigated. In the first case, she writes, the "author makes an outrageous claim, [the] paper gets reviewed by high-impact journal because the result is so 'surprising'. Turns out the crux of the claim is based on an extremely high sample number and/or vastly overstated statistical power." This is alarming to Ms. PhD because no one had tried to verify that the authors had replicated their experiment in a smaller number of samples and "nobody can publish anything conflicting with the model based on these published claims, without reproducing the original results in at least as many samples, and no one can afford to do that because it's so outrageously expensive," she writes. In a second scenario, authors submit a paper with misprocessed data to a high-impact journal; when it is rejected by reviewers, the authors re-submit the paper to another high-impact journal who publishes it. "Sometimes I wonder how often these kinds of things are happening. More often I wonder why everyone puts up with it," the blogger writes.

The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.