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2015 Saw the Publication of Corrections to Two of President Tessier-articles Lavigne’s by “Science”
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the president of Stanford University, had two manuscripts ready to be corrected for publication in 2015, according to Holden Thorp, the journal’s editor-in-chief, who verified this in a statement to The Daily.
Thorp did not provide an explanation for why the two manuscripts for which Tessier-Lavigne served as the lead author did not eventually have corrections published, or for why the esteemed journal did not respond to several PubPeer commenters who requested that it look into the matter.
The problems in the articles were originally mentioned in a Daily article published on Tuesday, which exposed seven years’ worth of undisclosed accusations of scientific misconduct involving the University president’s research. According to specialists consulted by The Daily, four of Tessier’s studies, Lavigne’s including the two published in Science, had “severe flaws.”
“In reviewing records following a news story published in The Stanford Daily, it is clear that in October 2015, Marc Tessier-Lavigne became aware of issues with images in two Science studies on which he was co-author published in February 2001 and March 2001, contacted Science, and agreed to follow up,” according to Thorp’s statement, which was later shared with Science’s three million Twitter followers.
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In collaboration with Science editorial, Tessier-Lavigne created errata for both papers, according to Thorp. We made a mistake, though, and Science never published these errata. We regret this mistake and extend our regrets to the scientific community.
The journal’s official word for corrections attached to manuscripts that contain errors is “errata.” The editorial policies of the journal state that the modifications are to be made immediately online and announced in the publication’s following print issue.
Thorp has not responded to inquiries from The Daily since the original article’s publication on whether he has spoken with Tessier-Lavigne since then, how and why the concerns were brought up to Science, and whether Tessier-Lavigne provided original data.
Additionally, the statement doesn’t discuss the original faults or how deeply science has looked into them. Thorp didn’t specify who was at fault, how the mistakes might have happened, or whether Tessier-Lavigne told the journal how he first learned of the mistakes. The statement is silent on what happened to the adjustments, as well.
Tessier-Lavigne and Science have also been asked to provide The Daily with copies of the suggested corrections. According to Dee Mostofi, a university spokesperson, Tessier-Lavigne willingly reported inaccuracies to Science in late 2015 while he was being considered for the role of the university president. Thorp’s comment supports this claim. Early in 2016, Tessier-Lavigne was chosen for the position.
Tessier-Lavigne and the University have not responded to repeated requests for comment, and it is unclear whether the Board of Trustees, which confirmed Tuesday night that it is now opening its own investigation into the research, was informed of the errors at the time.
As soon as feasible, Science, according to Thorp, “will be disclosing our future moves as they relate to these two papers.” In response to The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Journal’s revelation that it is looking into a 2008 publication in which Tessier-Lavigne is listed as a co-author, Thorp made the following statement.
The Daily received an email from EMBO’s editor-in-chief, Facundo Batista, who stated that the publication would carry out any necessary “follow-ups” in accordance with its own misbehavior policies. A request for comment was not answered by Cell, a renowned science publication that published a study co-authored by Tessier-Lavigne that allegedly contained manipulation.
The University claimed that the paper’s findings were unaffected by the inaccuracies in Science and Cell. Professionals disputed this. The Daily has contacted the University for comment regarding the assertion made by Science.