Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist Linda Buck has retracted a 2001 Nature paper. In the retraction in this week’s Nature, the authors report difficulty replicating the data and ‘inconsistencies’ between the original data and figures and data printed in the paper. Buck told Nature reporter Heidi Ledford that the figures and data in question were contributed by the first author, Zhihua Zou, who was unavailable for comment.
This is the highest profile retraction that I can recall in neuroscience, but so far, there has been little fallout. Perhaps that’s because the original findings were notable only in the neuroscience community rather than in the general public. Regardless, it indicates that neuroscience and its well known labs are not immune from fraudulent data. Although I admire Buck’s swift and direct action, it concerns me that the first author has been assigned the lion’s share of the blame. This seems like a familiar refrain, and I find it troubling.