Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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A press release had “fake” and “NASA” in its headline. Then it was retracted.

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Last Thursday, struck — as it were — by a headline about an asteroid preparedness test, I took to Twitter

I couldn’t quite tell if this was a clever dig at a certain President’s penchant for calling everything “fake news,” or a risky gambit, given various “faked Moon landing” conspiracy theories — or both.

And then, less than 90 minutes after I tweeted, the press release was retracted, with a note that an edited version would be reissued.

The original headline was: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 2nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in united states

College retracts press release about sociologist reviewing manuscript

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pctThe Pennsylvania College of Technology, aka Penn College, has retracted a press release about a sociologist there reviewing a manuscript.

Now, although we’ve covered a few retracted press releases, we don’t typically write about such events. This one, however, struck us as odd: Is reviewing a paper really the bar for sending out a press release? What if every university did that every time one of their faculty was asked to review?

The May 2 press release, issued by Penn State, of which Penn College is a part, begins: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 5th, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Posted in united states

Weekend reads: Science press releases under fire; a new plagiarism excuse; win $1,000

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booksThe week at Retraction Watch featured the retraction of an entire issue of a journal and a renewable energy researcher agree to retract ten papers for recycling, and saw The Australian put us on its list of “30 Most Influential” in higher education for 2016. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 16th, 2016 at 10:06 am

Posted in weekend reads

Court denies request to retract gov’t press release about convicted biotech CEO

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court caseA doctor and former biotech CEO lost his appeal yesterday to force the federal government to retract a press release that he claims contained errors that damaged his reputation.

But this case isn’t so straightforward — the press release in question described the verdict in a case against former InterMune CEO W. Scott Harkonen, who was convicted in 2009 of hyping the results from the company’s lung disease drug in….you guessed it, a press release.

Here’s more from the U.S. government’s description of the 2009 case:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 9th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Posted in united states

Confusion as JNCI yanks press release on embargoed breast density-cancer study after authors see error

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An unusual note went out to reporters on the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) press list yesterday:

Please disregard this MTM, which was sent out on Friday June 29, 2012.  The data in the study changed so we are no longer putting out a press release for the study.

The original release was headlined:

Percent Density May Be As Strong a Risk Factor as Variation in Breast Density for Breast Cancer

MTM stands for “memo to the media.” What wasn’t clear was whether the new notice meant the release was being pulled back, or the study itself, but the JNCI press office said it was just the release.

But the Mayo Clinic’s Celine Vachon told Retraction Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 3rd, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Case Western explains why it withdrew press release about Andrulis origin of life paper

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The wild and woolly saga of the paper that claims to solve “the puzzle of the origin and evolution of cellular life in the universe” continues.

Yesterday, Ivan wrote on his Tumblr about Case Western’s Erik D. Andrulis‘ paper, “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 28th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

EurekAlert retracts press release, and a Guardian reporter sanctioned by EurekAlert reports on it

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Cross-posted from Embargo Watch

EurekAlert has withdrawn a press release after realizing that it contained unsupported statements about climate change. As Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian reports:

An online news service sponsored by the world’s premier scientific association unwittingly promoted a study making the false claim that catastrophic global warming would occur within nine years, the Guardian has learned.

The study, by an NGO based in Argentina, claimed the planet would warm by 2.4C by 2020 and projected dire consequences for global food supply. A press release for the Food Gap study was carried by EurekAlert!, the news service operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) , and the story was picked up by a number of international news organisations on Tuesday.

Read the rest of Goldenberg’s story. It’s quite illuminating.

EurekAlert posted a statement that reads, in part: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 19th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Journal silently fixes emergency care paper — after misleading press coverage

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Last month, a colleague of emergency medicine doctor Daniel Waxman sent him some newly reported findings that took him by surprise. Waxman knew from the title of a press release about the recent paper — “Nearly Half of U.S. Medical Care Comes From Emergency Rooms” — that something was wrong.

Immediately I said, that’s not true. It’s just crazy.

Waxman quickly realized the mistake: The data were based only on care provided in hospitals — much of which, not surprisingly, originates from emergency departments (EDs). But the title of the paper, the abstract, and other places in the text do not specify that. What’s more,  the press release about the study says the findings relate to “all medical care.” The journal has since changed the paper, including the title, to make that distinction clear, but not provided any editorial notice indicating the text had been updated. Meanwhile, the press release and news stories about the original study continue to report the “surprising” original findings.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

November 14th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Newly released AI software writes papers for you — what could go wrong?

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This week, we received a press release that caught our attention: A company is releasing software it claims will write manuscripts using researchers’ data. 

The program, dubbed “Manuscript Writer,” uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate papers, according to the company that created it, sciNote LLC. A spokesperson explained the software generates a first draft the scientist should revise, and won’t write the Discussion, “the most creative and original part of the scientific article.” But can it provide any coherent text?  

According the release from sciNote, Manuscript Writer (an add-on to the company’s Electronic Lab Notebook, or ELN):

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

November 9th, 2017 at 10:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Ketamine-depression paper retracted following investigation at Yale

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A psychiatry journal has retracted a 2011 paper exploring the use of ketamine to treat patients with severe depression following an investigation at Yale University.

According to the retraction notice, Yale determined that the paper, published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, did not accurately describe the research. But the study’s lead author, Gregory Larkin, says he believes the retraction “is wholly unnecessary, serving neither patients nor science.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

August 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in united states