Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Authors’ pharma ties cause Cochrane to withdraw two diabetes reviews

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Cochrane_LogoThe Cochrane Library has withdrawn two reviews evaluating the effectiveness of diabetes treatments because some of the papers’ authors work with pharmaceutical companies.

Bianca Hemmingsen, first author on both reviews, told us the Cochrane Library asked the authors to remove the researchers with ties to pharma, but after one “refused to withdraw,” both papers were pulled entirely.

However, Hemmingsen insists that their employment had no impact on either paper.

This breaks the typical mold for Cochrane withdrawals, which are usually only pulled to indicate updates and show that older reviews no longer represent the best evidence.

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Two groups mistakenly publish case reports on the same patient

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Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics

Talk about a popular patient: A woman who developed a case of internal bleeding while taking the anticoagulant Xarelto (rivaroxaban) was written up in not one — but two — case reports. The trouble was, both groups didn’t realize what the other was doing, so the more recent article is now being retracted from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

The authors, a trio of doctors at Sakarya University in Turkey, described the case of a 75 year-old woman who came to the emergency room for fatigue and stomach pain after taking rivaroxaban for three days. A scan revealed a rectus sheath hematoma.

However, the case had already been published a few months earlier in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology by a separate group of doctors from Sakarya, along with authors from Yenikent State Hospital and Vakfikebir State Hospital.

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Updated: Author resigns from West Point following paper legitimizing attacks on scholars who question terror tactics

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[Note: This post has been updated with new information about the author’s resignation.]

Following criticisms of a 2015 paper which proposed attacks on scholars who question the government’s handling of the war on terror, the author has resigned from his post at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The nearly 200-page paper, “Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column,” appeared in the National Security Law Journal of George Mason University School of Law, in Virginia. It was written by William C. Bradford, who is a somewhat controversial figure.

In the paper, Bradford, assistant professor at the United States Military Academy, criticizes U.S. academics who specialize in armed conflict and claim “that the Islamist jihad is a response to valid grievances against U.S. foreign policy”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

August 31st, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Investigation of prominent geneticist Latchman finds “procedural matters,” no misconduct

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David Latchman, Birkbeck

An investigation by the University College London has cleared prominent geneticist David Latchman of misconduct, but concluded he has “procedural matters in his lab that required attention.”

Latchman has two retracted paperson PubPeer, there are questions about nearly four dozen more.

The results of the investigation were first reported by the Times Higher Education. We also received a short statement from a UCL spokesperson:

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PubPeer founders reveal themselves, create foundation

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The creators of PubPeer dropped their own anonymity today, as part of an announcement about a new chapter in the life of the post-publication peer review site.

By now, Retraction Watch readers will be familiar with Founded in 2012, the commenting site has allowed for robust discussions of scientific papers — which in turn have led to corrections and retractions. (We regularly feature discussions there in our PubPeer Selections feature.) The site has many supporters — including us — but also some critics, one of whom has filed suit against its commenters, arguing anonymous comments cost him a job opportunity. (Late last week, PubPeer learned that a judge had granted them the right to appeal the most recent decision in that case.)

Like most of the commenters on the site, whose careers could be threatened if they were exposed as critics, the founders of the site have until now been anonymous.

Today, however, founders Brandon Stell, George Smith, and Richard Smith unmasked themselves. They are joined on a board of directors by Boris Barbour and Gabor Brasnjo. Stell and Barbour are practicing scientists, while Brasnjo, who trained as a scientist, works as an attorney. Here’s the whole statement, followed by a Q&A with Stell: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 31st, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in pubpeer selections

Weekend reads: Ghost authors proliferate; science goes to the movies; pricey grant fraud

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured the results of a massive replication study, yet another retraction for Diederik Stapel, and a messy situation at PLOS. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 29th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Court grants Toronto researchers review of misconduct findings

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A Canadian court has granted a review of two researchers’ application to quash the findings of a university investigation that found signs of falsified data, according to the researchers’ lawyer.

Yesterday, the court ruled that the application by Sylvia Asa and her husband, Shereen Ezzat, to quash the University Health Network investigation’s findings be reviewed by a full panel of the divisional court.

That review should take place within the next few months, Brian Moher, the researchers’ attorney, told us. The pair are pleased with the outcome, Moher told Retraction Watch:

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Written by Alison McCook

August 28th, 2015 at 2:30 pm

“Our manuscript unintentionally failed to meet academic and publication standards”

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Authors of a 2014 review paper about the use of “as needed” medications by people with mental health diagnoses are retracting it, but we’re scratching our heads as to why.

The retraction appears in “The experiences of mental health professionals’ and patients’ use of pro re nata (PRN) medication in acute adult mental health care settings: a systematic review protocol of qualitative evidence,” published by The JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports.

From the abstract of the paper:

Pro re nata is a Latin phrase meaning “for an unforseen need or contingency”…The authors of the systematic review found that although the practice of using “as required” medication is common there is no good evidence of whether this is the best way of helping people to be less agitated when compared to being given a regular dose of medication.

We’re not entirely sure what went wrong here. This is the full contents of the note:

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Trachea surgeon Macchiarini acted “without due care,” but is not guilty of misconduct: Karolinska

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Paolo Macchiarini

Paolo Macchiarini

Following an investigation, Karolinska Institutet has found that surgeon and visiting professor Paolo Macchiarini acted in some cases “without due care,” but that his behavior “does not qualify as scientific misconduct.”

Karolinska’s Vice Chancellor has also recommended that Macchiarini submit an unspecified number of corrections “to clarify and rectify the failings that the inquiry has brought to light.”

Macchiarini is most well-known for pioneering the creation of tracheas from cadavers and patients’ own stem cells. However, the glow of his success was diminished somewhat after four Karolinska surgeons filed a complaint, alleging Macchiarini had downplayed the risks of the procedure and not obtained proper consent, among other accusations.

An external review by Bengt Gerdin of Uppsala University concluded in May that Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

August 28th, 2015 at 8:45 am

Yes, many psychology findings may be “too good to be true” – now what?

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scienceToday, Science published the first results from a massive reproducibility project, in which more than 250 psychology researchers tried to replicate the results of 100 papers published in three psychology journals. Despite working with the original authors and using original materials, only 36% of the studies produced statistically significant results, and more than 80% of the studies reported a stronger effect size in the original study than in the replication. To the authors, however, this is not a sign of failure – rather, it tells us that science is working as it should:

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Written by Alison McCook

August 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm