Category: writing stuff

It’s a weird feeling for me when I see that an article I’ve covered is being retracted.  I find myself wondering whether I should have asked more questions about the quality of the work – which may or may not be fair. But after all, these articles have (presumably) gone through peer-review by experts in the field (for whatever that may be worth) and been seen by many thousands of eyes before I got around to reading them, and it’s not like I’m replicating the experiments myself. But I still remember the gut-twinge I felt during the infamous Woo-Suk Hwang stem cell debacle, just a few months after I’d covered their team’s work in a two-page news feature.

Now it’s happened again – coincidentally, with another Science article. This time the circumstances are a bit weirder, though. To be sure, Ferrer and Golyshin were making a pretty big claim – by assembling chips containing arrays of more than 2500 fluorescently-labeled molecules, they hoped to essentially catalogue the various metabolic reactions being performed by a particular cell or microorganism. Their proof of concept, with the bacterium Pseudomonas putida, was an apparent success, but it wasn’t long before the trouble started.

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