It’s time to get serious about decreasing bias in the clinical literature. Here’s one way to do that.

Tom Jefferson

Recently, we wrote in STAT about the “research integrity czars” that some journals are hiring to catch misconduct and errors. But are there other ways that journals could ensure the integrity of the scientific record? Tom Jefferson, a physician, methods researcher, and campaigner for open clinical trial data, has a suggestion, which he explores in this guest post. (Jefferson’s disclosures are here.)

Readers of Retraction Watch know that the quality control mechanisms in the publication of science, chiefly editorial peer review, are not infallible. Peer review in biomedicine in its current form and practice is the direct descendant of the bedside consultation. In a consultation the object or person under observation (patient/the journal submission) is observed and analyzed by the doctor (editor) who decides what the best course of action is. If unsure, the physician/editor may call on the help of outside specialists (the hospital physicians/referees) to help make a final decision on the therapy and fate of the patient/submission.

Such a wonderfully genteel paradigm of scrutiny and scholarly activity cannot be expected to identify problems caused by the contemporary rampant commercialization of biomedical research and its dissemination. In fact it does not. In fact, the system as designed does little, if anything, to detect these issues. Continue reading It’s time to get serious about decreasing bias in the clinical literature. Here’s one way to do that.

Prominent psychologist at Cornell notches second retraction

Robert Sternberg

Robert Sternberg, a psychology professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, whose work has been cited more than 140,000 times, has had a second paper retracted because he duplicated his previous work.

Sternberg’s work came under scrutiny earlier this year when colleagues said he was citing himself at a high rate, and not doing enough to encourage diversity in psychology research. He resigned as editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, and around the same time, Brendan O’Connor, at the University of Leicester in the UK posted allegations on Twitter that Sternberg had been recycling his work, after O’Connor analyzed the material with Nick Brown.

Sternberg’s first retraction appeared in June in School Psychology International. Here’s the new one, in Theory Into Practice: Continue reading Prominent psychologist at Cornell notches second retraction

Weekend reads: Prominent doctors who don’t disclose conflicts, and the journals that enable them; a “nudge” study faces scrutiny

Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance.

The week at Retraction Watch featured two new names on our leaderboard, vindication for The Joy of Cooking, and a retraction for an antibiotic switcheroo. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: Prominent doctors who don’t disclose conflicts, and the journals that enable them; a “nudge” study faces scrutiny

Authors try to duplicate bad data, fail miserably

Cangaroojack via Flickr

We’ve seen plagiarizers plagiarizing plagiarizers, but here’s what seems to be a first: A journal has retracted an article that duplicated text…from a paper that had been retracted for containing dubious data.

The Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science published the recycled paper, titled “Development and in vitro-in vivo characterization of chronomodulated multi-particulate drug delivery system of terbutaline sulphate for treatment of nocturnal asthma by box–Behnken statistical design.” The authors were from several institutions in India.

As the retraction notice explains: Continue reading Authors try to duplicate bad data, fail miserably

Researchers retract PNAS paper when they realize they’d been victims of an antibiotic switcheroo

Gentamicin B1, via PubChem

In March 2017, a group of researchers in Vancouver, along with a colleague in Philadelphia,  published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) concluding that a particular antibiotic might be useful for treating conditions in people with rare mutations.

Then, this past July, while continuing the work, they had an unexpected result. That made them suspect that the antibiotic they thought they had ordered, gentamicin, wasn’t what they thought it was. With the help of a different company that sells the antibiotic, they confirmed they were studying a different compound — and retracted the paper.

Here’s the notice for “Gentamicin B1 is a minor gentamicin component with major nonsense mutation suppression activity:” Continue reading Researchers retract PNAS paper when they realize they’d been victims of an antibiotic switcheroo

The Joy of Cooking, vindicated: Journal retracts two more Brian Wansink papers

Brian Wansink

In February of this year, the Joy of Cooking launched what you could call an epic Twitter stream. Inspired by Stephanie Lee’s reporting in BuzzFeed on Brian Wansink — the food marketing researcher at Cornell who later resigned following findings of misconduct by the university — the legendary cookbook pointed out all that was wrong with a 2009 study claiming that their recipes added calories over the years. Those tweets led to coverage in The Verge, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.

This week, the Annals of Internal Medicine retracted that paper, along with another. That brings Wansink’s tally of retracted papers to 17, with one of the papers retracted twice. (And no, 17 is nowhere near a record; he’s not even among the 30 authors with the most retractions in the world.) As Retraction Watch readers will likely recall, his work began to unravel when, after a 2016 blog post in which Wansink seemed to endorse p-hacking, four researchers joined forces to analyze his work.

Here’s the notice for 2009’s “The Joy of Cooking Too Much: 70 Years of Calorie Increases in Classic Recipes,” a paper that has been cited 20 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science: Continue reading The Joy of Cooking, vindicated: Journal retracts two more Brian Wansink papers

Pair of nanotech researchers up to at least two dozen retractions

A pair of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) has had a total of nine more papers retracted, pushing their totals to 24 and 26, respectively.

The totals put the two researchers — Rashmi Madhuri, with 24 retractions, and Prashant Sharma, with 26 — on our leaderboard of the 30 authors with the most retractions in the world.

Three of the retractions appeared in RSC Advances, two appeared in Journal of Materials Chemistry B, and one each appeared in Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Journal of Materials Chemistry C, Biomaterials Science, and CrystEngComm.

For example, here is the retraction notice from Journal of Materials Chemistry C: Continue reading Pair of nanotech researchers up to at least two dozen retractions

Former Colorado “golden boy” earns three-year ban on Federal funding

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity has announced findings of misconduct against a once-promising pharmaceutical scientist at the University of Colorado.

The ORI says Rajendra Kadam fabricated data on government grants while working on his PhD at UC Denver under the supervision of Uday Kompella. As we reported in 2015 when this case first broke, Kadam was put in charge of a piece of technology that apparently he alone knew how to operate — giving him ample opportunity to cook results without fear of detection.

Under the terms of the ORI finding — which comes nearly four years after the UC inquiry wrapped up — Kadam will be barred from Federal U.S. research funding for three years, beginning November 13, 2018. Continue reading Former Colorado “golden boy” earns three-year ban on Federal funding

A colleague included plagiarized material in your grant proposal. Are you liable?

Richard Goldstein

Last month, a judge recommended that a former University of Kansas Medical Center professor be banned from Federal U.S. funding for two years. The ban came after an investigation showed that the researcher, Rakesh Srivastava, had submitted a grant application that was heavily plagiarized from someone else’s. But there’s far more to the case, as Richard Goldstein –who represented the scientist in Bois v. HHS, the first case to overturn a funding ban by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI), and who has written about another case for us — argues in this guest post. 

Picture this scenario: You submit an NIH grant proposal.  Unbeknownst to you, it contains material plagiarized from another scientist.  Are you liable for research misconduct? Continue reading A colleague included plagiarized material in your grant proposal. Are you liable?

Weekend reads: Is science self-correcting?; peer review’s “undue emotional burdens;” retractions at Science

Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance.

The week at Retraction Watch featured a dental researcher who is up to 18 pulled papers; the retraction of a paper claiming that people feared contagion less in the dark; and the mass resignation of a journal’s editorial board. You’ve no doubt read lots of stories about CRISPR’d babies. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: Is science self-correcting?; peer review’s “undue emotional burdens;” retractions at Science