Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Weekend reads, part 2: Oldest-ever PhD; most embarrassing citation ever; blame the antibodies?

without comments

booksAs we noted Saturday, there was so much happening around the web last week that it made sense to break up Weekend Reads, especially since this is a holiday weekend in the U.S. and elsewhere. Here’s part 2: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 25th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Weekend reads: Gay canvassing study redux; editors fired; how the world’s biggest faker was caught

with 10 comments

booksThis week at Retraction Watch was dominated by the Science same-sex marriage study, after we broke the news Wednesday morning that one of its authors had requested its retraction. (And crashed our servers in the process.) So the first section of this Weekend Reads will focus on pieces following up on that story:

But there was plenty more happening this week: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 23rd, 2015 at 9:48 am

Posted in weekend reads

Chip slip: Irreproducibility erases computer memory paper

without comments

nanoscaleResearchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have retracted a paper in Nanoscale about an experimental computer chip after they were unable to recreate their published results.

“We retract this article to avoid misleading readers and intend to undertake further tests to confirm our previous results,” they write in the notice.

The scientists are working on developing a chip that uses resistive random-access memory, which allows a huge amount of information to be stored in a tiny package and accessed quickly while using very little power. A number of companies are working on the technology, but none have successfully commercialized it.

Here’s the notice for “High uniformity and improved nonlinearity by embedding nanocrystals in selector-less resistive random access memory” (free, but requires login): Read the rest of this entry »

“The first author assumes all responsibility:” Malaria vaccine article retracted for image manipulation

with one comment

InfectAndImmunAuthors of a 2012 article in Infection and Immunity investigating a malaria vaccine strategy are retracting it because it “contains several images that do not accurately reflect the experimental data.”

The paper, “Fine Specificity of Plasmodium vivax Duffy Binding Protein Binding Engagement of the Duffy Antigen on Human Erythrocytes,” has been cited 9 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retraction notice places the blame for the image shenanigans squarely on the first author, Asim Siddiqui, who is currently listed on LinkedIn as a faculty member at the College of Applied Medicine at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

Here’s the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

What should an ideal retraction notice look like?

with 19 comments

logoHave you seen our “unhelpful retraction notices” category, a motley collection of vague, misleading, and even information-free entries? We’d like to make it obsolete, and we need our readers’ help.

Here’s what we mean: Next month, Ivan will be traveling to Rio to take part in the World Conference on Research Integrity. One of his presentations is a set of proposed guidelines for retraction notices and their dissemination that we hope will inform publishing practices and severely limit the number of entries in our “unhelpful retraction notices” category. In September, for example, we announced that our guidelines would be linked from PRE-val, which “verifies for the end user that content has gone through the peer review process and provides information that is vital to assessing the quality of that process.”

Here’s a draft of our proposed guidelines, which include many of the items recommended by the Committee on Publication Ethics and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 21st, 2015 at 11:30 am

Posted in RW announcements

JAMA vitamin-hip fracture study earns Expression of Concern for integrity issues

with 4 comments

jama coverJAMA has issued an Expression of Concern about a 2005 study of whether two different types of vitamin B could prevent broken hips in people who’d suffered strokes.

The original study concluded:

In this Japanese population with a high baseline fracture risk, combined treatment with folate and vitamin B12 is safe and effective in reducing the risk of a hip fracture in elderly patients following stroke.

Here’s the notice for the study, “Effect of folate and mecobalamin on hip fractures in patients with stroke: a randomized controlled trial:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 21st, 2015 at 9:30 am

The “worst moment of my scientific career:” Two bird migration articles brought down by analytical error

with 3 comments

JAvianBio_ak19Evolutionary and conservation biologists in Spain are retracting two articles – one from the Journal of Avian Biology and the other from Ardeola – because they discovered a fatal flaw in their analysis.

The Journal of Avian Biology article, “Are European birds leaving traditional wintering grounds in the Mediterranean?” aimed to determine whether the abundance of passerines had decreased in recent decades, but failed to control for birds that may have gotten killed by hunters. Although it was published in January, we can only find an abstract from its acceptance by the journal in November 2014.

The authors detail the saga of their error in the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Author retracts study of changing minds on same-sex marriage after colleague admits data were faked

with 44 comments

science coverIn what can only be described as a remarkable and swift series of events, one of the authors of a much-ballyhooed Science paper claiming that short conversations could change people’s minds on same-sex marriage is retracting it following revelations that the data were faked by his co-author.

Donald Green, of Columbia, and Michael LaCour, a graduate student at UCLA, published the paper, “When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality,” in December 2014. The study received widespread media attention, including from This American LifeThe New York Times, The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post,  The Los Angeles Times, Science FridayVox, and HuffingtonPost, as LaCour’s site notes.

David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, graduate students at University of California, Berkeley, were two of the people impressed with the work, so they planned an extension of it, as they explain in a timeline posted online yesterday: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 20th, 2015 at 7:09 am

“Super-surgeon” Macchiarini guilty of misconduct, external review finds

with 3 comments

Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini, the celebrated surgeon whose work has come under scrutiny in Italy and at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, committed misconduct in six papers, according to an external reviewer.

Macchiarini is best known for creating tracheas from cadavers and patients’ own stem cells. The findings of the external review, first reported yesterday by SvD Nyheter, were made public last week. They are only available in Swedish thus far, and we have requested a copy from the Karolinska.

External reviewer Bengt Gerdin, of Uppsala University, summarized his findings this way for Retraction WAtch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 19th, 2015 at 10:52 am

Highly cited paper on women and heart disease retracted for failure to replicate

without comments

jcemA highly cited study examining the risks of heart disease in post-menopausal women with symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has been retracted by its authors because they could not replicate the results.

Here’s the retraction notice for the paper, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Read the rest of this entry »