Rheumatology has retracted a 2011 paper with too many errors to correct.
According to the notice, the article, titled “Meta-analysis of systemic lupus erythematosus and the risk of cervical neoplasia’, by Hongli Liu and colleagues at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, seems to have been deeply flawed:
We regret to retract the article ‘Meta-analysis of systemic lupus erythematosus and the risk of cervical neoplasia’ because:
Errors were identified in the publication involving several parts of the study including extraction of data, statistical analyses and interpretation of results.
Cervical neoplasia should have been interpreted as abnormal pap smears.
Unfortunately, such extensive changes cannot be addressed in a corrigendum and warrant a new manuscript. It is important to note that this is not considered to be scientific misconduct, but rather an honest error by authors.
We regret any problems that this article may have caused and retract it from the literature.
Prof. Robert Moots, Editor on behalf of the Journal
Dr Hongli Liu, corresponding author on behalf of the authors
According to the abstract of the paper, which looked at seven previous articles:
This meta-analysis demonstrates the positive association between SLE and cervical neoplasia risk. Individuals with SLE have a heightened risk of developing cervical cancer.
It has been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
The notice certainly raises a few questions. Who identified the errors in the publication and when? And why weren’t these problems caught during the review process?
We emailed Moots, but his office responded that it could not immediately supply answer to our queries. Depending on when and what we eventually hear, we’ll update this post.
Update, 1:40 p.m. Eastern, 3/30/12: Please see this update with comments from Moots.
Hat tip: Clare Francis. Disclosure: One of us (AM) edits a publication called Rheumatology Practice News Special Edition that competes with Rheumatology.