Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Two in 100 clinical trials in eight major journals likely contain inaccurate data: Study

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A sweeping analysis of more than 5,000 papers in eight leading medical journals has found compelling evidence of suspect data in roughly 2% of randomized controlled clinical trials in those journals.

Although the analysis, by John Carlisle, an anesthetist in the United Kingdom, could not determine whether the concerning data were tainted by misconduct or sloppiness, it suggests that editors of the journals have some investigating to do. Of the 98 studies identified by the method, only 16 have already been retracted. [See update at end.]

The types of studies analyzed — randomized controlled clinical trials — are considered the gold standard of medical evidence, and tend to be the basis for drug approvals and changes in clinical practice. Carlisle, according to an editorial by John Loadsman and Tim McCulloch accompanying the new study published today in Anesthesia, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 5th, 2017 at 3:45 am

A shadow was cast on a bone researcher’s work. What are journals doing about his papers?

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Last year, a researcher cast doubt on a bone scientist’s clinical trials, suggesting some of the findings may not be legitimate. So what’s happened since?

Since 2015, journals have retracted 14 papers by bone researcher Yoshihiro Sato, based at Mitate Hospital in Japan, for issues ranging from self-plagiarism, to problems with data, to including co-authors without their consent. (We covered the latest two retractions this week.) Last year’s analysis identified patterns in more than 30 of Sato’s clinical trials that suggest systematic problems with the results. (Sato has defended his research.)

With doubts cast on Sato’s body of work, we contacted the journals that have published his papers involving human trials, to see if any taken another look at Sato’s work; several responded. While most believe there is little reason to take further action at this time, some told us they are investigating.
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Fraud by bone researcher takes down two meta-analyses, a clinical trial, and review

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The troubles continue for a bone researcher, who’s lost multiple papers in recent months due to problems ranging from data issues to including authors without their consent.

Now, journals have retracted two more papers by Yoshihiro Sato. And in a sign of the downstream effects that fraud can have, another journal has retracted two meta-analyses by other authors that cited his work.

Earlier this month, the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion retracted the two meta-analyses because they were based on recently retracted papers by Sato, affiliated with Mitate Hospital. The two new retractions of Sato’s papers are a review and a randomized controlled trial.

Sato was not an author on the meta-analyses published in 2008 and 2011; he was, however, first and lead author on all the retracted papers referenced in the notices. The notices state that the trio of authors on the meta-analyses:

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Weekend reads: A publisher sends the wrong message on data sharing; jail for scientific fraud; pigs fly

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The week at Retraction Watch featured three new ways companies are trying to scam authors, and a look at why one journal is publishing a running tally of their retractions. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 11th, 2017 at 9:31 am

Posted in weekend reads

Author says he lied about approval for animal research

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A researcher in South Korea has retracted a 2015 paper after telling the journal he falsified the institutional approval required to conduct the animal experiments.

In the article, the author explicitly says that the Animal Experiment Review Board of a university based in Seoul, South Korea approved the experiments, but according to the journal, “the author did not receive an approval by the board and he used a false approval number.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “The role of compensatory movements patterns in spontaneous recovery after stroke,” published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science (JPTS) in September 2015 and retracted in December: Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Peer Reviewer: Could you also replicate the experiments? Thanks

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via the University of St Andrews

As if peer reviewers weren’t overburdened enough, imagine if journals asked them to also independently replicate the experiments they were reviewing? True, replication is a big problem — and always has been. At the November 2016 SpotOn conference in London, UK historian Noah Moxham of the University of St Andrews in Scotland mentioned that, in the past, some peer reviewers did replicate experiments. We asked him to expand on the phenomenon here.

Retraction Watch: During what periods in history did peer reviewers repeat experiments? And how common was the practice? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

January 9th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Japan group earns 4th retraction following investigation

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Researchers in Japan have issued their fourth retraction, noting that the same figures were used to depict different experimental conditions.

The group lost two papers in 2015 for the same reason, following a misconduct investigation at Oita University in Japan. Last year, the same group notched another retraction, and pegged the responsibility for the problematic figures on first author Satoshi Hagiwara.

Now, the group has published a fourth retraction in the European Journal of Pharmacologythe latest notice doesn’t identify a culprit. All four retracted papers list Hagiwara as first author.

Here’s the latest retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Analysis casts doubt on bone researcher’s body of work

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19-coverA new analysis of more than 30 clinical trials co-authored by a bone researcher based in Japan is casting doubt on the legitimacy of the findings.

Yoshihiro Sato, based at Mitate Hospital, has already retracted 12 papers, for reasons ranging from data problems, to including co-authors without their consent, to self-plagiarism. Most of these retracted papers are included in the analysis in the journal Neurology, which concluded that Sato’s 33 randomized clinical trials exhibited patterns that suggest systematic problems with the results.

Other researchers have used similar approaches to analyze a researcher’s body of work — notably, when John Carlisle applied statistical tools to uncover problems in the research of notorious fraudster Yoshitaka Fujii, and Uri Simonsohn, who sniffed out problems with the work of social psychologist  Dirk Smeesters.

Author Mark Bolland of the University of Auckland told us he was surprised by his findings: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

November 9th, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Ecology journal flags carnivore paper under investigation

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journal-of-applied-ecologyAn ecology journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a recently published study, citing an institutional investigation about the data and conclusions.

According to the notice — issued by the Journal of Applied Ecology — the author’s institution in South Africa has received a report from an independent examiner. The editors are reviewing the paper — about reducing the impact of lethal carnivores such as black-backed jackals — “in light of this information.”

An official from the journal told us the investigation has to do with “relevant background information” that was not included in the study, published online in December.

Here’s the EOC, published earlier this month: Read the rest of this entry »

Two more retractions bring bone researcher’s total to 12

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jbmrA bone researcher based in Japan with 10 retractions under his belt has retracted two more papers for similar reasons — problems with the underlying data, and including co-authors who didn’t participate in the project.

In both notices, Yoshihiro Sato is pegged as responsible for the content of the papers. The newly retracted research covers a long timespan — one paper was published in 2000, the other in 2013.

Here’s the first notice, issued by the Journal of Bone and Mineral ResearchRead the rest of this entry »