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Biotech Science

Stem Cell Research Paper Recalled 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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Stem Cell Research Paper Recalled

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  • Not quite. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Assassin bug ( 835070 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:38PM (#18032878) Journal
    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?
  • by seriv ( 698799 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:40PM (#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.
  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:42PM (#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.
  • So this means... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @08:57PM (#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.
  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by malsdavis ( 542216 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:14PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:41PM (#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.
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:48PM (#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.
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @10:05PM (#18033764) Homepage Journal
    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.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.