Careful Retraction Watch readers may have noticed that one of the categories in our right-hand column under “by reason for retraction” is “lack of IRB approval.” That’s because in just over a year, we’ve written a number of posts about two cases of retractions for that reason.
One was the now-infamous case of Joachim Boldt, who has retracted some 90 papers. The other was more mundane, about a group studying injuries among Aussie rules football players.
These retractions — and another case in which lung cancer screening trial investigators have said 90 percent of their consent forms are unobtainable, according to The Cancer Letter and The New York Times — raise some important ethical questions that we explore in our latest LabTimes column. Excerpt:
Certainly, violation of research ethics is a profound problem that journals must take seriously. But some observers raised a provocative and interesting point: What if a study lacks IRB approval but produces impressive (and reproducible) results? Is retraction really the only option? Should other researchers be denied the chance to learn from the tainted finding?
Read the column to find out how we answer those questions. And let us know how you would.