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Stem Cell Research Paper Recalled

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the making-the-grade dept.

Biotech 112

MattSparkes writes "One of the best-known stem cell papers describes adult cells that seemed to hold the same promise as embryonic stem cells. Now some of the data contained within the paper is being questioned, after staff at a consumer science magazine noticed errors. It shows how even peer-reviewed papers can sometimes 'slip through the net' and get to publication with inaccurate data."

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indeed. (5, Funny)

President_Camacho (1063384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032692)

Stem Cell Research Paper Recalled

Yes, I remember it quite vividly myself.

Re:indeed. (1)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034004)

Excellent. Then you'd better return it, or Amazon will charge your credit card for the full amount.

ok (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037166)

Now can we get the Bible recalled?

Sounds familiar! (5, Funny)

CyberGenesis (1064776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032734)

"It shows how even peer-reviewed papers can sometimes 'slip through the net' and get to publication with inaccurate data." Perhaps this is a phenomena Slashdot should take note of?

Print media with a clue? (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035358)

I'm boggled there's a published popular print medium that has employed on staff someone who could spot that.

I'm hoping it wasn't the doctor from India who does the floors at night.

Re:Sounds familiar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18036798)

Until you show me a peer reviewed paper proving this article is a fact, I won't believe it.

No shit sherlock. (5, Informative)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032768)

Peer review isn't about the accuracy of the data. It's about how the data supports the conclusions and whether the paper is notable enough for the journal. Peer reviewers don't have the time and money to duplicate every experiment they review.

Of course (5, Interesting)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032848)

Anyone who's read a significant number of journal articles has spotted some huge errors that somehow got published. I know of one paper (not naming any names!) where in explaining how a calculation was done it had the line: 18-7=9. Clearly (from context) the line meant to say 17-8=9, but I found it humorous that such a fundamental error got past both the original authors proof-reading and the peer-review process. These things go back and forth a couple times, usually.

Peer review isn't a perfect process. It just helps reduce the noise-to-signal ratio.

Re:Of course (1)

Flavio (12072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032914)

What kind of journal publishes arithmetic?

To me, the fact that they wasted space printing 18-7=9 is more shocking than the actual error.

Re:Of course (5, Insightful)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033292)

Lots of journal articles have simplistic calculations here and there. The point of showing such calculations isn't to prove that the author is capable of performing 3rd grade maths, its so that the reader knows where number X came from. IMHO It is probably the most frustrating thing when papers / books / lecture notes just present numbers and presumes the reader realises where they were derived from.

Re:Of course (0)

CapsaicinBoy (208973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032942)

I read an paper by a colleague last week in a reputable Elsevier journal. The text referred you to Table 1. There was a Table 1 in the paper, but it wasn't the Table 1 being referred to, which was missing entirely. Doh!

Probably the mistake of the publisher (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033040)

I recently had an article that was about to be published where the entire caption was missing from a table. Luckily I caught that in the proofs before it was actually published.

Re:Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033458)

I know of one paper (not naming any names!)

Why? Was it your paper? What could possibly be the reason to withhold the info about a paper that includes the subtraction of two numbers as an important treatise. Maybe it was published in the Journal of Bullshit?

Re:Of course (1)

AmigaBen (629594) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038470)

For the same reason that for some reason here on /. we don't name companies that have screwed us over. Because we'd hate to inhibit their ability to screw the next guy over!

Re:Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033882)

My main contribution to the world of science was finding an arithmetic mistake in one of my advisor's articles after it had been accepted for publication. It was something like 35+15 = 55 and it made a big difference to the conclusion.

Re:Of course (1)

Dean Hougen (970749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034278)

Like missing or mislabeled tables, this error might not have been in the draft(s) seen by the peer reviewers but might, instead, have been introduced later in final edits meant to clear up minor grammatical errors, etc. Peer reviewers are not copy editors.

Dean

Peer review and copy editing (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036800)

In this case I've actually worked with both authors, and when I mentioned it (I read it shortly after it came out), the author who wrote that bit realized that the error was in the original. You are correct that errors are often introduced during the editing stage (as you add minor points to please the peer reviewers, etc.), but it wasn't true in this case. As for peer reviewers not being copy editors, you are absolutely correct, but with so many eyes on the paper, you would have thought that someone would have caught it and pointed it out. I know that when I get my proof back, I check every equation against the original to make sure they haven't messed it up. Of course, in this case, you'd just look and see that they copied what you had down without thinking about the fact that the math was wrong.

Re:Of course (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034430)

I found it humorous that such a fundamental error got past both the original authors proof-reading and the peer-review process.

It's less humorous when it happens to you. It's never happened to me, but a colleague was once in quite a state when an article was published that he was lead author on and figures 2 and 3 were identical. Both were the original figure 2. It had happened in the original MS--somehow the same graph was included twice. The caption was right, the discussion in the text was right, but the actual graph in figure 3 was just a dupe of figure 2.

It got past him, his co-authors, the editor at the journal (who is supposed to check for important trivia like that) and both reviewers. Oops.

Data says whatever you want it to (3, Funny)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032866)

The true test of a PhD is how convincingly s/he can make the data, no matter what it is, say whatever s/he wants it to say.

Re:Data says whatever you want it to (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033722)

The true test of a PhD is how convincingly s/he can put off makeing up the data, no matter what it is

      There, fixed it for you.

Re:Data says whatever you want it to (4, Funny)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034152)

The true test of a PhD is how convincingly s/he can put off making up the data, no matter what it is

You have failed peer review.

Re:Data says whatever you want it to (2, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034898)

Holy crap, I never thought of it that way, but slashdot really does support a kind of peer review, and all the comments people make about it supporting "groupthink" and such can easily be extrapolated to scientific review.

I'm not sure if that's a defence of slashdot's moderation/threading system, or if it's an attack on science as it stands today.

Re:Data says whatever you want it to (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035668)

and all the comments people make about it supporting "groupthink" and such can easily be extrapolated to scientific review.

Uh yeah, definitely.

I'm not sure if that's a defence of slashdot's moderation/threading system, or if it's an attack on science as it stands today.

Peer review is what it is, review by peers. The problem only shows up when people start acting like peer review is a stamp of authenticity or correctness, when in reality it is neither and can be neither.

Re:Data says whatever you want it to (1)

ne0n (884282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034938)

The true test of a PhD is how convincingly s/he can put off makeing up the data, no matter what it is

There, fixed it for you.
You get bonus points for plagiarizing Alan Sokal's "Hermeneutics" paper :)

Re: off topic but (2, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035506)

I remember a great article in the British Medical Journal about a randomized, double-blinded crossover study using placebos, where the investigators tested the effectiveness of parachutes on statisticians. Needless to say it was a roaring success.

Re: off topic but (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035960)

I'd rather test a few placebo parachutes on lawyers thrown out at about 3000m.

Re:No shit sherlock. (2, Informative)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033044)

Amen to that. I've peer reviewed papers, and for most part you end up trusting the authors. It's not like the reviewer can rerun the experiments or inspect the raw data.

Much of peer review involves checking the form, rather than the substance, of the paper. Does the paper follow proper protocal? Is it clearly written? Are the references complete and correct? Should it be shortened or added to?

The substance of the paper also comes into it, of course, but the reviewer is very limited as to what he or she can do when it comes to checking the validity of the claims.

Re:No shit sherlock. (1)

Teresita (982888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033408)

Amen to that. I've peer reviewed papers, and for most part you end up trusting the authors. It's not like the reviewer can rerun the experiments or inspect the raw data.

Gosh, that reminds me of a scene in the original five-book Foundation Trilogy: "...Why not go to Arcturus and study the remains for yourself?" Lord Dorwin raised his eyebrows and took a pinch of snuff hurriedly. "Why, whatevah foah, my deah fellow?" "To get the information firsthand, of course." "But wheahs the necessity? It seems an uncommonly woundabout and jopelessly wigmawolish method of getting anywheahs. Look heah now, I've dot the wuhks of the mastahs- the gweat ahchaeologists of the past. I wigh them against each othah- balance of the disagweements- analyze the conflicting statements- decide which is pwobably cowwect- and come to a conclusion. That is the scientific method. At least"- patronizingly- "as I see it. How insuffewably cwude it would be to go to Ahctuwus, oah to Sol, foah instance, and blundah about, when the old mastahs have covahed the gwound so much moah effectually than we could possibly hope to."

Re:No shit sherlock. (1)

Dean Hougen (970749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034346)

Peer review is not research. Was Asimov really conflating the two? Also, is his dialog really that bad? Please tell me that is not a direct quote, despite the quotation marks!

Dean

Re:No shit sherlock. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035976)

The character (some kind of self-important noble) speaks in a way that he thinks makes him look intelligent. The scene shows the state of the Empire and why it's stagnating and collapsing, I don't think it's meant to criticise the present.

Re:No shit sherlock. (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038096)

I stand corrected. The reviewer could rerun the experiments if he or she had the same time and resources as the author of the paper. Which, of course, he or she never does. Generally a reviewer is a very busy person who can dedicate at most a few days to the task.

You should, perhaps, try peer reviewing a paper yourself to understand the position reviewers are in, and what peer review means in practice.

Re:No shit sherlock. (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038556)

I agree wholeheartedly. The last paper I reviewed actually worked out very well because I was very familiar with the subject matter already. I knew that their method was sound, but I could identify spots that needed clarification for others and pointed out some other related works. Many times you do have to trust the author though.

Re:No shit sherlock. (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033378)

Thanks. This is something that's forgotten way too often. I'd add that in general when reviewing a paper, reviewers must make the basic assumption that the author is acting in good faith. When that assumption is violated, then there isn't much the reviewers can do and it's usually up to the scientific organisation (and community) to take actions.

Re:No shit sherlock. (2, Informative)

imkonen (580619) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037568)

"Peer review isn't about the accuracy of the data. It's about how the data supports the conclusions and whether the paper is notable enough for the journal."

You beat me to it. A lot of journals only use 1 or 2 reviewers. 3 is the most I've ever heard of. Reviewers are neither paid for their work nor given a lot of time to do it, so some really just phone it in. Even the more thorough ones: we're talking essentially 3 chances to find a mistake. I've rievewed papers and if I notice a mistake I'll certainly point it out even if it's just a grammar, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over the fact that I didn't manually overlay their graph with every other paper they've written to check for a mistake like the one mentioned in the article. That's the kind of mistake it takes 10000 pairs of eyes to catch.

To put it in terms a typical slashdotter should understand, that would be like expecting a program to be completely bug free after 4 revisions. Of course part of the process is that after it's been published, it's expected that other scientists will look at the paper and catch things reviewers might have missed...kind of like the open source coding model.

Talk about stem cells... (0)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032782)

So when did a consumer science magazine get enough stem cells to challenge a scientific journal? That's like the National Inquirier challenging the New York Times to retract a story.

Re:Talk about stem cells... (4, Informative)

bobscealy (830639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032832)

RTFA. New Scientist noticed that 6 graphs were duplicated exactly across two paper that were describing different cells. They questioned the results, and a panel of experts reviewed the data. Nowhere does it say that New Scientist magazine got their hands on even a single stem cell.

Re:Talk about stem cells... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033460)

I think you're being too literal. Replace "stem cells" with "guts". Laugh. It's funny. :P

Re:Talk about stem cells... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036756)

I was replacing "stem cells" with "balls" but that's just me.

I know New Scientist is "just" a consumer science magazine, but such publications can play an important role. Scientists, being human (mostly) are also prone to human failings, and even a lowly consumer science mag can point them out.

Interesting (0, Troll)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032802)

I find it interesting that these are the very reports the anti fetal stem cell people always quote. Seems like a consistent theme of anti global warming and anti fetal stem cell factions, psuedoscience.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033162)

I find it interesting that these are the very reports the anti fetal stem cell people always quote.

It's interesting how often the modern Republicans turn out to be wrong. I'm guessing it's the culture. They're so sure they're right that they focus entirely on finding facts to convince people of their conclusions rather than trying to figure out what the facts are actually saying.

When you choose facts that support your conclusions rather than choosing conclusions that are supported by the facts, you have a high probability of being wrong. Some people say Republicans are smart but, the way I see it, they are good at rationalizing but bad at being rational. Some Republicans even go so far as to redefine the questions so that they can claim they are right even when they're wrong.

I don't know how long the Republicans have been like this. Reagan got pretty far away from reality with his "shining city on the hill" stuff. But people liked it. Personally, I wanted to move to Switzerland because they had a higher standard of living but then I realized they don't speak English and the languages they do speak aren't sexy enough to be worth learning.

Peer review is self correcting (4, Informative)

CapsaicinBoy (208973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032816)

This is exactly how the system is *supposed* to work. Dr. Verfaillie publishes her team's findings, and others try to replicate it. If they can, the original finding is supported. If not, the failure to replicate usually leads to other insights. My old boss was usually more excited when an experiment failed than when it worked, because was what led to breakthroughs instead of mere confirmation.

Yes, the process can take time, and god forbid you were the poor grad student that spend 3 years heading down a blind alley, but this episode just reaffirms that overall, the process works.

Re:Peer review is self correcting (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032936)

Not only that, but it also demonstrates the danger of pulling out a single paper as being the last word on a particular topic. Unless you are damn sure that lots of people have gone over it and done some in-depth verification on it, it's better to wait for confirmation than to take it at face value.

This is how scientific consensus is important. In a "yup, I checked it, I got the same thing" way, not in a let's-vote-like-we're-voting-for-congress way.

Re:Peer review is self correcting (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033764)

Another point is that any paper should be extremely suspect until duplicated. For an average person, scientific papers are often misinterpreted as declaration for on high. The high level results are reported without any indication of process. For a scientist, the opposite seems true. These papers are read for the process, In fact I would wager that the ability for a person skilled in the craft to reproduce the process from the paper is likely a more important criteria than the "truth" of the conclusions.

This difference in priorities is what causes such a disconnect between the science and non science communities, and in fact is one of the greatest challenges in teaching science. The public or the students wants to simply know "the answer", whereas the scientist is more concerned with how the answer was realized, and with which other problems such a process might help. it is also the argument between science and some fundamentalist religious folks. The later are say "god is the answer", the former is saying "science is the solution", neither necessarily talking about the same thing, but niether cognizant enough of the differences to intelligently diffuse the debate.

Supposed to, but often doesn't (2, Informative)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033784)

For a very illuminating read on this whole business, have a look at "Fabulous Science" by John Waller. Even illustious organisations such as the Royal Society - set up for goal of providing peer review - have been conned or biased (political correctness, partiotism, religious beleifs...). Even Nobel prizes have been awarded for massaged experiments.

Sexy science, bad science (5, Interesting)

Ra Zen (924419) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032820)

Stem cells are a hot topic, so people are willing to publish sloppy research or even fake date (remember Dr Hwang Woo-suk) just to get published fast and first. The same turns out to be true with other hot topics like flu research, where claims that the 1918 flu pandemic was of avian origin are severely overblown (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v440/n7088/f ull/nature04824.html; a free version is here: http://www.amherst.edu/~mhood/pubs.htm [amherst.edu] ). Most scientifc research is solid, and most review processes work, but publications like Science and Nature often publish articles based on how sexy they are and can curtail the review process if they think the story will be a hit. Most other journals keep things steady and have very solid review proceedures.

And ... (1)

BearSquirrel (1062290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18039402)

Let's not forget that there is also a big push from the right to publish anything that will make adult stem cells seem as promising as fetal stem cells. The fact that this paper is recalled will not deter stem detractors. The mainstay of scientific luddites is always old, discredited studies that they keep propogating regardless of how many times they've been told that it is wrong. You get exactly the same garbage from anti-evolutionists and the anti global warming crowd.

Somebody should tell the king... (-1, Troll)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032842)

Somebody should tell King Bush. Sure, Jeebus won't be happy, but the US is starting to look like a backwater country when it comes to science with him at the helm. The whole "stem cell debate" thing makes me embarrassed to tell people that I'm American.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (0, Offtopic)

gotee12 (1064796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032906)

Then leave...

(sorry I wasn't signed in properly with my last reply, I'm not an anonymous coward)

Traitors should leave first (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032968)

Why should a citizen be asked to leave when the politicians are the traitors?

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032982)

cowards leave; patriots stay and correct the problem.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033036)

I still like this country. The people running it are complete and total assholes. I'd rather stick around and do my small part to fix things. I have faith that the system will kick them out (and hopefully, imprison some of them) relatively soon, and the US will get back on track. We're seeing a low point in the history of the US right now, and time will tell if the system initially put in place will be resilient enough to recover from the damage done to it by our current "leaders".

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

gotee12 (1064796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033294)

Well I can understand someone having a different opinion than myself, and you do have that right. But seeing as how past administrations have done much worse (or better yet, haven't done enough good) and yet those administrations are praised when measured against the current amdinistration, simply shows how biased we Americans are. My side is right cuz it's my side, and your side is wrong cuz it's not my side. That's what America has become in my eyes, forget what's right and what's wrong. Everything's red or blue. I get pretty ticked when I think about it all but you know, "though we be in the world, we be not of it". (oops, did I give it away that I'm saved?)

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033352)

My side is right cuz it's my side, and your side is wrong cuz it's not my side.

Describes Republican politics since 1987, in high gear since 1992...

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

Eiron (1030492) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036476)

Describes all politics since ever.

Republicans may be guilty of this, but don't be fooled into thinking the Democrats, or any other political party for that matter, are innocent.

And those are some ridiculously arbitrary dates you chose. The US was practically founded on the idea that our side was right because it was our side, and if you can think of any war in record that didn't have that as the cause, one way or another, you probably just haven't looked into it enough. It's practically the human condition, you anonymous, specious ass.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033610)

My side is right cuz it's my side, and your side is wrong cuz it's not my side.

Both sides are wrong. There, does that make you feel better? It isn't the sides that are the problem. It is that there are sides.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

gotee12 (1064796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033678)

That's what I was saying, man. Everything's red or blue.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (0, Troll)

abigor (540274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033732)

Saved from what? Is that some religious thing? If so, why include a reference to that in your comment? All you do is totally discredit yourself.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

gotee12 (1064796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033850)

Yes it's a religious thing. I'm a Christian. And I included that in my comment since I was quoting scripture: John 15:19. I'll be sure to include references such as this in the future.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035580)

I still like this country. The people running it are complete and total assholes. I'd rather stick around and do my small part to fix things. I have faith that the system will kick them out (and hopefully, imprison some of them) relatively soon, and the US will get back on track.

Was FDR imprisoned for sending 120,000 innocent Americans to detention centers?

Was Truman imprisoned for using nuclear weapons to wipe out two cities?

Was Hoover imprisoned for 48 years of wiretapping without warrants?

I voted against Bush in 2004. But you have to admit, in the historical view, Bush's abuses of power are small potatoes.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (2, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033448)

The whole "stem cell debate" thing makes me embarrassed to tell people that I'm American.

See, people like you trolling a debate they know nothing about would make me ashamed to be an American (if I was one). Here's a hint: this story is talking about adult stem cells, which has no significance at all in regard to the current political/moral question of embryonic stem cells. They're two totally different things, obtained through totally different processes.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033648)

Yes, we Americans are also embarrassed to tell people that you're an American too. Hey, consensus! Bonus!

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033690)

Here's a hint: this story is talking about adult stem cells

      Come on - he SAID he was American. You expect him to have a clue?

      Oh I am burning Karma tonight, hehehe. Please, feed the trolls!

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (4, Informative)

CapsaicinBoy (208973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033714)

people like you trolling a debate they know nothing about would make me ashamed to be an American (if I was one). Here's a hint: this story is talking about adult stem cells, which has no significance at all in regard to the current political/moral question of embryonic stem cells.

Actually, they are completely relevant to the moral/political question of embryonic stem cells, in so far as embryonic stem cell opponents have been using these adult stem cells to have their cake and eat it too.

Specifically, they've been tying the hands of researchers due to their religious beliefs and then shielding themselves from criticism by claiming "oh, we don't need embryonic cells anyway, because adult stem cells are just as good." Here is one example [nationalreview.com] .

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034074)

We also tied the hands of Nazi scientists, due to our religious beliefs that you shouldn't do medical experiments on Jews...

Anyway, the results for adult stem cells do seem to be better than for embryonic stem cells. However, this causes a political problem: pro-choice people would prefer to get find some use for embryonic stem cells, in order to weaken people's opposition to abortion. If saving one's life could be found to depend on killing an embryo, some people might be tempted to give up their principles...

Research with adult stem cells is going well, but that doesn't really have any political benefit for the pro-choicers, so they have to insist on following the less-promising line of research.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038212)

This is one mistake in one paper on adult stem cells. It's important for those working in that field, but it hardly invalidates the whole notion of adult stem cell therapies. And in terms of therapies, adult stem cells are better than embryonic, as they don't suffer from rejection. Embryonic stem cell research is pretty much just that - purely research. They're easier to perform research with, as I understand it, but any discoveries made have to be translated back into adult stem cells for therapeutic uses. The whole point of stem cell therapeutics is that you use the persons own cells to repair the injury. And given that harvesting stem cells kills the embryo, the only way you could benefit from an embryonic stem cell therapy would be if you were one of a pair of twins, and they harvested the cells from your twin and left you alive.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

Mainusch (20215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037634)

If adult stem cells prove to be as useful as embryonic stem cells[1], then the only reason to harvest embryonic stem cells would be the sheer joy of killing unborn babies.

[1] It should be noted that adult stem cells have already proven extremely useful in treating many diseases, whereas embyonic stem cells have proven useful in treating exactly zero so far.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038046)

Actually, embryonic stem cells will never be useful in therepeutics; they would still suffer from the problem of rejection (you could never use your own embryonic stem cells in a therapy, as the only method of collection we have involves the destruction of the embryo). The only area they are claimed to be useful in is pure research, where they are easier to work with. Any discoveries made with embryonic stem cells, however, would have to be translated to adult stem cells when it came to therapy, as I understand things.

Re:Somebody should tell the king... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037800)

You mean that we are a backwater scientifically because George W. Bush became the first President to fund stem cell research? Or because the U.S. develops 40% of the new drugs in the world (even though we are only 5% of the world's population)?

Not quite. (5, Insightful)

Assassin bug (835070) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032878)

The title for this post is misleading. The paper has not been recalled. Some of the data are in despute and it reads as though there will be some corrections posted by Nature. But if you had read the paper to the end you would have noticed that Nature is still deciding on the paper. Oh, and might New Scientist have anything to gain by overhyping a technical error in a Nature paper... hmmm?

Re:Not quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18037220)

No, not really. Nature is a scientific journal and NewScientist is a weekly science-oriented news magazine aimed at the layman. So if you're implying that NewScientist pointing out an error in a Nature article would allow them to capture some customers, you fail to recognize that they don't compete; they serve different markets.

Re:Not quite. (1)

Assassin bug (835070) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038120)

Yes, maybe. I know they serve different markets. One is a scientific journal and the other is a popular science mag. But that's my point. New Scientist can puff up its feathers and claim they are the watchdog of the big science journals, get a lot of press over it and improve their subscriptions.

Cannot see the Future (1)

forand (530402) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032888)

What appears to be described in the article could not have been discovered by the peer reviewers since they were being reviewed at roughly the same time. Similarly it is insane to expect anyone to read and remember every graph from all the papers published in any given field. In my field there are at least 50 a day, I would do nothing but read papers if I was going to be familiar with them all.

Oblig. Futurama (3, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032892)

Prof. Farnsworth: Is it true that stem cells may fight the aging process?
Stem Cell Clinic Worker: Well, yes, in the same way that an infant may fight Muhammad Ali, but....
Prof. Farnsworth: (slapping down $300 Tricky Dick Fun Bill) One pound of stem cells, please!
(Prof. Farnsworth begins slathering the stem cells all over his face.)
Stem Cell Clinic Worker: Of course, any age-reversing effects will be purely temporary--euuugh!

Journals want to make make money (4, Insightful)

seriv (698799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032894)

It's kind of obvious, but popular science journals such as Nature (where this paper was published) and Science will publish what will sell issues. Its not always about the quality of the science. If a paper has shock value but has clear problems, these journals will publish it anyway in many cases. Peer review doesn't enter into the process as much as one would think when a topic is hot. It is just like crazy extremists who get all sorts of publicity for saying something outrageous.

Nature != popular science journal (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033546)

I think the word you were looking for is prestigious science journals. Nature and Science are the ultimate targets for many fields; a publication in either of these journals can drastically increase one's scientific reputation, which is everything in academia. Popular science denotes a magazine targeted to those not involved in the field, such as Scientific American. Science and Nature depend on their reputation as premier journals for revenue; the people who subscribe to Science and Nature do not do so because their articles contain shock value, but because their articles are thorough, novel, and relevant. When do you think the last time someone wandered past a Nature on the magazine stand and thought, "Wow, this article on the molecular markers of HSCs and their potential pluripotency shocks me; I have to buy it!" Do magazine stands even carry Nature?

There is certainly a bias in both Nature and Science towards novel, groundbreaking research, along with an emphasis on sexy (nanotechnology and stem cells are very hot right now, so the threshold to publish these papers has dropped). This does not have anything to do with the quality of science in the papers that are published - I challenge you to find an article in either Nature or Science that has "clear problems" in the science presented.

As someone mentioned previously, peer-review checks for a correlation between the conclusions and the data they are drawn from; it is not meant to verify results prior to publication. You, sir, are talking out of your ass.

Re:Nature != popular science journal (1)

CapsaicinBoy (208973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033840)

Wow. Great post. You hit it right on the head.

Too bad you are an AC that probably will never get enough mod points for this to see the light of day. :(

Mod parent up, GP down (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034424)

The big time multi-disciplinary journals such as Science and Nature really are some of the most well respected journals in many fields. These are journals we're talking about here, not newsstand rags. They have very high standards for submissions and target an audience of scientists, even though they tend to gravitate toward more popular topics.

MOD UP! (1)

Dean Hougen (970749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034502)

How could the parent post be moderated -1 overrated down to -1 from 0? It was right on target. Was the moderator a sock puppet for the GP?

Nature and Science are not popular rags.

Dean

Re:Nature != popular science journal (1)

seriv (698799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035990)

There is certainly a bias in both Nature and Science towards novel, groundbreaking research, along with an emphasis on sexy (nanotechnology and stem cells are very hot right now, so the threshold to publish these papers has dropped). This does not have anything to do with the quality of science in the papers that are published - I challenge you to find an article in either Nature or Science that has "clear problems" in the science presented.

Challenge accepted.

No. Nature and Science and not sold on newsstands. Both journals cost a fair amount and are usually only purchased by libraries and members of the scientific community. I called them popular, because they are read by members of all scientific disciplines and are widely known. Anyways, the majority of papers that these journals publish are some of the best works in science. If a scientist has only a few papers published in either journal in their career, they will have done well. I am not denying that. The problem comes from the fact that, as you said, these journals want to publish sexy results. From this point on, I will be quoting a paper published in Nature on this subject found at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v419/n6909/fu ll/419772a.html [nature.com] (you might not be able to see it unless you have access to Nature's archives, sorry).

an article in The Wall Street Journal alleged that Science and Nature "are locked in such fierce competition for prestige and publicity that they may be cutting corners to get 'hot' papers".
Hmmm... maybe I am not just "talking out of [my] ass," as you claim. I will not go through every example of bad peer review in journals, but I will quote the example I was thinking of when I wrote my original post:

Accusations began to fly in March, when Science published a report from scientists led by Rusi Taleyarkhan at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee who claimed to have triggered nuclear fusion in a beaker of organic solvent. The paper appeared to howls of protest, both from leading physicists who were sure that the authors were mistaken and from other researchers at Oak Ridge who had examined the work and claimed to have uncovered serious flaws.
That doesn't sound like good peer review, does it? Now, there is no conclusive evidence to say that Nature and Science fudge the refereeing process, but it is an opinion shared by many. Enough people believed it to warrant Nature to write an article on the subject.
Do your research next time you try to blast someone and have enough courage to not post anonymously. Eat it.

Re:Nature != popular science journal (1)

John Newman (444192) | more than 7 years ago | (#18038278)

I think you're right on, and a big part of the problem is that Nature and Science are skewed towards "anticipated science", vs. novel science. In order to be hot, a topic must be widely known and followed, and most people in the field know what the next logical steps will be. Stem cells and fusion are great examples. Chromatin modification and remodeling has been another one for the past few years. Everyone knows that certain advances in these fields will be Nature-material, and everyone knows what the advances are. This generates two behaviors. Giant factory labs throw dozens of postdocs and (god forbid) grad students at a problem, until one of them sticks. And folks desperately motivated to establish a reputation make stuff up. This sort of behavior can only happen if you think you know what the result *should* be.

It is much more rare to see the genuinely surprising article, describing a truly unexpected result, and with only a handful of authors, in these high-profile journals. Such against-the-grain findings will usually hit the walls of "insufficiently supported", "not of general interest", or old-fashioned closed mindedness. Until they crawl up from lower-profile journals and become the new "hot".

Re:Journals want to make make money (0, Flamebait)

abigor (540274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033766)

My god, why is this modded up? Nature and Science are exactly the opposite to what this guy (who clearly has no familiarity with the subject) is talking about.

Re:Journals want to make make money (1)

doctorzizmore (999192) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033996)

Journals like Nature and Science get by mainly on advertisements, subscriptions to institutions, and to a lesser extent on subscriptions to individual scientists. It isn't like they are trying to publish sensational news stories so people will rush out to the newstands to buy the latest issue (it's actual quite difficult to even find these journals unless you have a subscription). The reason everyone wants to publish in Nature and Science is because Nature and Science publish only the best research. Therefore the journals would sabotage themselves pretty quickly if all they did was publish unsubstantiated research articles. I think it's true that "sexy" articles will sometimes get through with a little less evidence than is warranted, but these journals would never knowingly publish false results. They'd be shooting themselves in the foot. Plus peer review can only do so much. This is actually a good thing to see every once in a while. It means the system is working, which is really what keeps scientists honest.

Re:Journals want to make make money (1)

sharky611aol.com (682311) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034508)

For the love of God, please mod parent down...

Re:Journals want to make make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035794)

Gotta love the Slashdot moderation system.

The parent post is modded +5 insightful, even though it's COMPLETE AND TOTAL B.S., while the replies correcting it have been marked 'flamebait' and 'overrated'.

Time for a change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032946)

Maybe it is time to drop secret peer-review all together. How about open review of scientific papers? Not to mention the so needed open access to scientific knowledge, altogether.

Re:Time for a change? (0)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033638)

How about open review of scientific papers? Not to mention the so needed open access to scientific knowledge, altogether.


Publishers: What, see the paper BEFORE it goes to press? But, but, how are we going to rip you^H^H^H^H^H^H^H do our hard work and provide our valuable service? You must pay $35 for that 780k PDF, we've put a lot of work into getting it to you!

      Sarcasm aside, I agree with you. Greedy publishers don't belong in science anymore. The articles want to be free!

Re:Time for a change? (1)

Dean Hougen (970749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034628)

Maybe it is time to drop secret peer-review all together. How about open review of scientific papers? Not to mention the so needed open access to scientific knowledge, altogether.

Publishers: What, see the paper BEFORE it goes to press? But, but, how are we going to rip you^H^H^H^H^H^H^H do our hard work and provide our valuable service? You must pay $35 for that 780k PDF, we've put a lot of work into getting it to you! Sarcasm aside, I agree with you. Greedy publishers don't belong in science anymore. The articles want to be free!
There sure are a lot of posters on Slashdot who want to criticize the current system but have no idea how it works. I mean, I understand that accusations of greed and secrecy are fun to make but, really, shouldn't they have some relationship to what you are criticizing? Even on Slashdot?

Here is a free clue for you: There are highly-respected journals that give away all their content for free on the web for anyone to read. They still use anonymous reviewers. The use of anonymous reviewers has nothing to do with greed or a desire to keep knowledge bottled up.

Dean

Re:Time for a change? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036572)

Here is a free clue for you: There are highly-respected journals that give away all their content for free on the web for anyone to read. They still use anonymous reviewers. The use of anonymous reviewers has nothing to do with greed or a desire to keep knowledge bottled up.

      Yes, anywhere from 6 to 24 months after publication for most of them - which can be a lifetime in some fields.

not just "sometimes" (2, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033028)

It shows how even peer-reviewed papers can sometimes 'slip through the net' and get to publication with inaccurate data."

How about the misandry-filled assertations about how women use more words than men, have brains more "wired" for communication, etc? Turns out that everyone's been quoting each other and nobody can even stick to facts interview to interview [boston.com] .

What's appalling is that the author, Dr. Brizendine, not only holds a top academic position, but also has a best selling book that is full of "facts" that are complete fabrications.

Re:not just "sometimes" (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033708)

How about the misandry-filled assertations about how women use more words than men, have brains more "wired" for communication, etc?


What you say are true. Man use just many words as woman. Me go watch football now.

So this means... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033126)

not very much apparently. The author of the paper has tried to fix the inacuracies, but it seems from the article that the author still has evidence that adult stem cells are just as viable as embryonic stem cells.

I really hope they can advance this area of study, I would hate to think that we use human embryos to solve other human's problems just because it was harder to do it with adult stem cells.

Stem Cell Research Paper Recalled... (4, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033258)

...when it was learned that it contains small parts, not suitable for children under three.

Re: Stem Cell Research Paper Recalled... (4, Funny)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033562)

...when it was learned that it contains small parts, not suitable for children under three.

Given the political context that should read, "...when it was learned that it contains small parts of children under three."

Re: Stem Cell Research Paper Recalled... (0)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033842)

Considering that it was evaluating small parts of adults, I respectfully disagree.

Re: Stem Cell Research Paper Recalled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034396)

So wasteful, how many copies of this did they print out, only to recall it due to an error, I'm sure they killed many a tree.

How about re-devolution of cells or re-embryonic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18033682)

I might cite the work of twice Nobel nominated Dr. Robert O. D. Becker. His groundbreaking work in understanding the flow of electric current in nerves, injuries, fractures, bone marrow etc. and the differentiation between formation of regenerated limbs or a mere scab have long been overlooked by the academic and formal establishment for so long yet the results can be clearly seen when repeated (with salamanders or dogs or anything with bone marrow). If you have not read his books I humbly suggest that you read them: The Body Electic, Cross Currents. My creed is that you look at the evidence and then make theories and assumptions from there, not make assumptions and instead of making the creed fit the assumptions.

Re:How about re-devolution of cells or re-embryoni (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035612)

Fascinating. I did not know this man's name but heard of these ideas in many medical documents I read frequently. I will make the time to read some of his books. By the way, in searching for those references, I noticed you misspelled "ElectRic" (which google caught for me anyways). Thanks for the information.

Was it Really Peer Reviewed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034302)

True story.

Several years ago I wrote a paper and submitted it to a prestigious conference. Within a few days of submitting my paper, I received a "Dear Colleague" email, asking me to volunteer to "peer review" submissions because they were short of reviewers. I respectfully declined.

Why? Because my paper was based upon a new interpretation of findings reported in a 50 year old journal article by a famous researcher. In it, he presented then unexplainable observations about physiology. I am not a physiologist. I do not have a PhD. I do not have an MD. I have no formal experience in the field. I don't even have an M. Sc. I'm a geek with strengths in analysis and synthesis. But I was able to come up with a well-supported hypothesis that he had lacked the perspective to see.

So I wrote my paper. It was eventually rejected; no reason given. I submitted a letter about this experience to a medical journal. They publish letters, but only in the on-line version of their journal. They declined to publish my letter - claiming lack of space. I guess the Internet is full.

Hence my question, "Was it really peer reviewed?"

basic screw-ups in peer review (1)

docinthemachine (1031976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034314)

There are so many comments on the nature of peer review. Let's call a spade a spade. From the lazy reviewer (jeez my review has 12 major flaws the oter reviewer corrected 3 misspelled words) to the one who knows nothing about the topic to the "trickle down review" where the chair gives it to a fellow to do -- here are what I see as the basic flaw of the peer review system! http://docinthemachine.com/2007/02/15/flawedpeers/ [docinthemachine.com]

This is unexpected? (3, Interesting)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035494)

I'm a Stats major and professors enjoy once in a while talking about the bad stats they've seen in published papers. One such paper, in a journal that was a described as "if it publishes your paper you're nearly guaranteed tenure in the field," used statistical methods that were inherently flawed (it downright failed on simple examples).

Another one published in a prestigious journal and with a few million in government backing found 100+ genes that were significantly linked to cancer. The statistics was the type that anyone who has taken even a couple courses could find flaws in. So someone redid the analysis and found ~8 such genes at best and possibly fewer. Due to the profile of this one the proper analysis is being done as a follow-up with the original researchers help (otherwise the flaws would have been much harder to identify).

So yeah, published papers can and do have flaws but they usually they get caught after a while, the point of publishing in some ways. At the same time more researchers should release their data so it can be verified more accurately (this has its own problems as if too many people run too many methods on the same data there will be spurious results of one sort or another).
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