Researchers replicated a classic paper on unsuccessful treatment of writer’s block. Then they tried to write it up.

Matt Brodhead

In 1974, Dennis Upper published a paper — well, to be precise, a blank page — entitled “THE UNSUCCESSFUL SELF-TREATMENT OF A CASE OF “WRITER’S BLOCK.” There have been several attempts to replicate the work, which has become a classic among a certain cohort of academics.

Until late last month, however, there was no multidisciplinary attempt to replicate the study. (As best we can tell, anyway. Who has time to do a proper literature review these days?) Now there is, along with an editor’s note that calls it “an exceptionally fine piece of scholarship.” We felt the best way to celebrate this auspicious occasion — coming about as far on the calendar from April 1 as one can — would be to interview the corresponding author of the new paper, Matt Brodhead, of Michigan State University. Lucky for us, he did not suffer from writer’s block, so he could respond to our questions by email.

Q: We can’t find the actual paper, even though the editor’s note refers to “the article below.” Did you bury your results in the supplemental information?
Continue reading Researchers replicated a classic paper on unsuccessful treatment of writer’s block. Then they tried to write it up.

What should happen to a paper published by Theranos?

Elizabeth Holmes, via Wikimedia

Last December, a group of scientists at a biotech firm published a paper on a “miniaturized, robotic clinical laboratory.” The technique, according to the authors, “would benefit patients and physicians alike.”

Nothing terribly unusual there. But what was — and what caught the eye of a Retraction Watch reader — was the name of the last author: Elizabeth Holmes.

Continue reading What should happen to a paper published by Theranos?

Former director of U.S. research watchdog agency moves to NIH

Kathy Partin

Kathy Partin, who served as director of the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) for just under two years until being removed from the post late in 2017, has a new position at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Retraction Watch has learned.

As of yesterday (Sept. 30), Partin is intramural research integrity officer at the NIH. She replaces Melissa Colbert, who will be retiring. Continue reading Former director of U.S. research watchdog agency moves to NIH

Weekend reads: Lessons from the downfall of Brian Wansink; “scientific terrorism” redux; why Cochrane booted a member

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 journal reversing three retractions, retractions for “irreconcilable differences,” and an expression of concern for papers whose authors failed to adequately disclose ties to Monsanto. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: Lessons from the downfall of Brian Wansink; “scientific terrorism” redux; why Cochrane booted a member

Journal reverses retractions, says apparent citation manipulation was “an innocent and honest mistake”

A journal that retracted three papers earlier this year because of concerns that one of the authors had asked conference presenters to cite them has republished the articles, saying that it has “inconclusive evidence of improper behavior.”

In February, we reported that the Journal of Vibroengineering had retracted three papers by Magd Abdel Wahab, of Ghent University in Belgium. Wahab had chaired a recent conference, and as we reported then, almost three-quarters of papers that cited Wahab’s three papers originated from the conference. Journal editor Minvydas Ragulskis told us that was “large enough to assume a high probability for citation manipulation.”

At the time, Wahab told us the papers would be republished. And it turns that they were, not long after our original post. There is no explanation on the papers themselves, just a “Republished Paper” in front of the three titles, and an editorial note that is not linked, as best we can tell, from any of the papers.

Along with the citation data the investigation was based on, that note explains that: Continue reading Journal reverses retractions, says apparent citation manipulation was “an innocent and honest mistake”

Weekend reads: The study that never existed; turmoil at Cochrane; a plagiarist is appointed professor

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 lot of news about Brian Wansink — six new retractions, his resignation, and findings of misconduct. There was other news, too, including a dozen new retractions of work by a scientist who once went to court to try to sue his critics. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: The study that never existed; turmoil at Cochrane; a plagiarist is appointed professor

Wansink admits mistakes, but says there was “no fraud, no intentional misreporting”

Brian Wansink (far left)

Brian Wansink, the Cornell food marketing researcher who announced his resignation yesterday and has been found to have committed misconduct by the university, admits to mistakes and poor record-keeping in a statement released today.

But he insists that there was “no fraud, no intentional misreporting, no plagiarism, or no misappropriation.” (See entire statement below.) Continue reading Wansink admits mistakes, but says there was “no fraud, no intentional misreporting”

Cornell finds that food marketing researcher Brian Wansink committed misconduct, as he announces retirement

A day after the JAMA family of journals retracted six of his studies, Cornell food marketing researcher Brian Wansink tells Retraction Watch that he will be retiring next year.

And Cornell said today that it found that Wansink “committed academic misconduct in his research and scholarship, including misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.”

[See an update with a new statement by Wansink here.]

In a statement, Wansink said: Continue reading Cornell finds that food marketing researcher Brian Wansink committed misconduct, as he announces retirement

JAMA journals retract six papers by food marketing researcher Brian Wansink

Brian Wansink (far left), via USDA

Brian Wansink, the much-beleaguered food marketing researcher at Cornell whose work has fallen under intense scrutiny, has just had six more papers retracted, all from the JAMA family of journals.

[See an update on this post; Wansink has resigned, and Cornell has found that he “committed academic misconduct.”]

JAMA warned readers about the six studies in April, by subjecting them all to expressions of concern, and followed up with print notices in May. Howard Bauchner, editor in chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network journals, told us at the time,

Given the large number of retractions of articles with Dr. Wansink as an author there is uncertainty that the results of his publications are valid.

Today, JAMA announced it was retracting the six articles: Continue reading JAMA journals retract six papers by food marketing researcher Brian Wansink

What really happened when two mathematicians tried to publish a paper on gender differences? The tale of the emails

Quillette

Retraction Watch readers may be familiar with the story of a paper about gender differences by two mathematicians. Last month, in Weekend Reads, we highlighted an account of that story, which appeared in Quillette.

The piece, by one of the paper’s authors — titled “Academic Activists Send a Published Paper Down the Memory Hole” — touches on issues familiar to those who follow the culture wars, which isn’t all that surprising given the controversial topic, one once discussed by then-Harvard president Larry Summers.

The piece has generated a great deal of conversation, some of it quite heated, and a number of participants in those conversations have suggested that seeing the emails that the author of the Quillette piece says support his account would be useful. That’s what this post is mostly designed to do: Surface those emails. Continue reading What really happened when two mathematicians tried to publish a paper on gender differences? The tale of the emails