How did the younger co-workers in the retracted papers react to the need for a retraction?
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I would guess that (in spite of the unpleasantness of it all) it is easier for an established researcher to understand the need to "do the right thing" and retract the paper than for a junior student (for whom the paper may be the only one on the CV so far). How do you keep the valid contributions of the original paper in the literature?

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It was important for everyone that we set the record straight. This was true not only for me, the PI, but for the authors of the retracted papers as well. Still because the papers were a major part of their work in my lab, it created a difficult situation for them in their new positions. We did consider correcting the mistakes rather than retracting the paper but ultimately decided that the mistakes were major enough that it would be best to retract. This way, the scientific record is clean. We are now working to republish the data that were validated. For example the PeerJ paper describes generation of an antibody that was first reported in the retracted paper.

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Ask me anything journal club

- on correcting the scientific record

Who: Pamela Ronald is a Professor at the Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center at the University of California, Davis. She also serves as Director of Grass Genetics at the Joint Bioenergy Institute.

Drs. Ofir Bahar, Rory Pruitt, Benjamin Schwessinger, and Arsalan Daudi are all present or former postdoctoral fellows in Prof. Ronald’s lab.

What: Prof. Ronald’s lab studies how plants respond to disease, and how plants can defend themselves against invading microbes. Last year, the group retracted its PLOS ONE and Science papers after finding that a bacterial strain they had been using was contaminated and a bioassay they had relied on was flawed. They investigated into what went wrong, and published new results in PeerJ last month to correct the scientific record.

Prof. Ronald, Dr. Bahar, Dr. Pruitt, Dr. Schwessinger, and Dr. Daudi will be answering your questions live, regarding their article and their retraction experience, or any other topic of relevance to plant-microbe interactions.

Plant interactions with microbes are important in the context of plant health and global food security, and of course maintaining the integrity of the scientific record is of paramount importance. So take this opportunity to get all your questions answered by five experts in the field who have been through the process of correcting their work!

Image: Gene Hettel, CC-BY-SA

When: February 18, 2014 09:00 am PST

Where: Ask me anything - on correcting the scientific record