Researchers in Norway have retracted a second high-profile exercise paper — again after running afoul of an ethical approval committee.
As part of the 2016 study, the researchers gave athletes asthma medication to measure its effect on signals from the nervous system to the lungs; although the drug appeared to have no detectable effect on the nervous system signals, 45 minutes after getting the drug, athletes (including those without asthma) showed an average slight increase in one measure of lung function.
Annette Birkeland, of The Norwegian National Research Ethics Committees (FEK), told us:
The authors of a 2014 study about asthma in Norwegian athletes have retracted it after realizing they hadn’t obtained proper approval from an ethical committee.
The study’s first and corresponding author of the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine — Julie Stang from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo — told us the authors had struggled to obtain ethical approval for the research, but believed the issue had been resolved.
However, earlier this year, a member of an ethical committee wrote an article in the Norwegian press about his concerns regarding the study, which tested the effects of three drugs on top athletes’ breathing. In it, he said the Regional Committees for medical and health professional research ethics (REC) had not approved the study, as members were concerned the presumably healthy athletes were being exposed to drugs used to treat asthma, which could enhance their performance.
Stang has denied that the study had anything to do with boosting athletic performance.
If you need evidence of the value of transparency in science, check out a pair of recent corrections in the structural biology literature.
This past August, researchers led by Qiu-Xing Jiang at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center corrected their study, first published in February 2014 in eLife, of prion-like protein aggregates called MAVS filaments, to which they had ascribed the incorrect “helical symmetry.” In March, Richard Blumberg of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues corrected their 2014 Nature study of a protein complex called CEACAM1/TIM-3, whose structure they had attempted to solve using x-ray crystallography.
Obesity has retracted a study that suggested overweight people may be less depressed than their slimmer counterparts in cultures where fat isn’t stigmatized, after realizing the authors lied about having ethical approval to conduct the research.
The authors claimed their research protocol had been approved by Norwegian and Bangladeshi ethical committees, but, according to the retraction note, part of the study “was conducted without the required approval of the university ethics board.” The journal’s managing editor told us that there is no evidence that there was harm to the study subjects.
This one seems like an honest mistake: a paper on dietary supplements during pregnancy has been retracted based on an error in data recording.
In the BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth paper, “Folic acid supplementation, dietary folate intake during pregnancy and risk for spontaneous preterm delivery: a prospective observational cohort study,” women for whom the researchers had no data on folic acid supplementation were classified as taking no supplements. Despite the error, the authors claim the overall conclusion remains the same: taking folic acid supplements didn’t protect women from preterm deliveries.
A group of psychiatric researchers in Norway has lost their 2013 paper in BMC Research Notes on the effects of antipsychotic medications on the brain after discovering that they’d botched their imaging analyses.
The article, “Does changing from a first generation antipsychotic (perphenazin) to a second generation antipsychotic (risperidone) alter brain activation and motor activity? A case report,” came from a trio of scientists at the University of Bergen and Haukeland University Hospital, also in Bergen. According to the abstract of the paper, which was published last May:
The authors of a study estimating how much radioactive material from two sunken Russian submarines is taken up by fish in the Barents Sea have retracted it, citing the need for “significant and extensive” corrections.