Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘united states’ Category

Prominent food researcher retracts paper from JAMA journal, replaces it with multiple fixes

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Brian Wansink

Earlier this week, we reported that high-profile food researcher Brian Wansink — who’s faced months of criticisms about his research — had issued his second retraction. On Thursday, he issued his third.

The retracted paper — a 2012 research letter in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, now JAMA Pediatrics — reported that children were more likely to choose an apple over a cookie if the apple included an Elmo sticker. The same day the paper was retracted, Wansink and his co-authors published a replacement version that includes multiple changes, including to the methodology and the results.

The retraction notice lists the mistakes, which the authors say they made “inadvertently:”

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“A gut-wrenching experience:” Authors retract, replace JAMA paper

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When economist Jason Hockenberry looked at data comparing some of the financial issues facing different U.S. hospitals, he was surprised by what he saw.

Hockenberry was examining the effects of a recently introduced U.S. program that penalizes hospitals with relatively high rates of readmissions for certain conditions by reducing Medicare payments. Although Hockenberry expected hospitals that serve low-income and uninsured patients to have more readmissions (and therefore more penalties), he saw these so-called “safety-net hospitals” had been steadily improving their performance since the program began in 2012, and had faced fewer penalties over time.

The results were so striking, they ended up in JAMA on April 18, 2017. But within one week after publication, Hockenberry learned outside researchers had raised questions about the analysis.

The outside researchers thought the authors had incorrectly categorized some of the safety-net hospitals. After looking into their concerns, Hockenberry — based at Emory University in Atlanta — realized the analysis did contain errors that affect the findings. This week, he and his co-authors retracted the article, replacing it with a corrected version. The new paper still reports that the gap between the penalties faced by safety-net and non-safety-net hospitals is closing — but not for the reasons they initially thought.  

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Journal republishes withdrawn paper on emergency care prices, amid controversy

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The Annals of Emergency Medicine has republished a controversial paper it withdrew earlier this year which compared the cost of emergency care at different types of facilities.

Because the paper drew heavy criticism when it was originally released, the journal has published a revised version, along with several editorials and discussions between the authors and critics. One point of contention: The analysis stems from data provided by an insurance company — Blue Cross Blue Shield — which it declined to share.

The paper — originally published in February —  caught national attention (and raised concerns among some emergency care providers) when it reported the cost of treatment in emergency departments can be significantly higher than at urgent care centers, even for the same conditions. The journal withdrew the paper in spring, and re-published it Tuesday, with minor changes.

First author Vivian Ho at Rice University told us she made “slight changes”  to some headings, phrases, and the appendix, but:

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“Devastating:” Authors retract paper in Nature journal upon discovering error

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Several years ago, Chris Dames thought he had made an exciting discovery, a “secret sauce” that would allow him to design a device using a novel mechanism.

In a 2014 Nature Communications paper, Dames—who works at the University of California at Berkeley—and his team described the first experimental results for the device, a photon thermal diode. A thermal diode conducts heat in one direction but not in the other, and in theory, could have broad applications—for example, provide barriers that shield buildings from excess heat or use heat to power computers.

But two years later, in August 2016, a colleague thought he had discovered a fundamental error in the design of the experiments. Bair Budaev, who also works at the University of California at Berkeley, believed that the authors made a “a fundamental symmetry error” which invalidated their results. Read the rest of this entry »

Another retraction hits high-profile food researcher under fire

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Brian Wansink

It’s been a rough year for Brian Wansink.

Last year, the prominent food researcher posted a blog praising a student for her productivity in his lab. But when Wansink described his methods, readers became concerned that the lab was using improper research techniques to generate more publications. Earlier this year, researchers posted an analysis of four papers by Wansink about pizza consumption to PeerJ, saying they discovered more than 150 inconsistencies in the data. Now, one of those four papers has been retracted.

On Friday, BMC Nutrition posted a brief notice about the 2015 paper, which examined whether people who pay different amounts for all-you-can-eat Italian buffets feel more or less guilty about how much they ate. The notice says the retraction stems from concerns about the data analysis, and the authors do not agree with the journal’s decision.

The new retraction is the second for Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell.

Here’s the complete retraction notice:

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Written by Alison McCook

September 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Article defending colonialism draws rebuke, journal defends choice to publish

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Facing a volley of criticism for publishing an essay that called for a return to colonialism, a journal editor has defended his decision to print the article.

The Case for Colonialism,” published Sept. 8 in Third World Quarterly (TWQ), was written by Bruce Gilley, a professor of political science at Portland State University. For an idea of what the piece was about, here’s the beginning of the abstract:

For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts.

Since the essay came out, scholars have criticized both the article itself and the journal’s decision to publish it. Several critics have called for retraction. [Update: 15 members of the editorial board have resigned in response.]

One group of critics wrote that they objected to the essay because:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

September 19th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Two more retractions for former US prof who altered dozens of images

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Two journals have retracted papers by a biologist who was recently found guilty of misconduct by his former employer, the University of Colorado Denver, bringing the total to five.

The investigation report by UC Denver, which we obtained earlier this year via a public records request, had recommended one of the two newest retractions, which appears in the journal Hepatology. The other retraction, in the Journal of Immunology, was not flagged by the report — which found, among other conclusions, that Almut Grenz had altered multiple values in research that had already been submitted for peer review.

Here’s the notice for the Journal of Immunology paper:

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Authorship for sale: Some journals willing to add authors to papers they didn’t write

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Got $300? Then you can be added as an author to a paper — even if you had no role in the research.

That’s right — some journals are willing to add authors to papers they didn’t write, often for a fee. This realization comes from one of the many sting experiments we’ve witnessed over the years, designed to expose the perils of the publishing industry, in which some journals will claim to peer review and publish any manuscript for a fee — no matter how nonsensical the content. Pravin Bolshete, a medical writer and researcher from India, wanted to explore a different side of predatory publishing — would journals agree to add a fictional author to a manuscript he/she didn’t write?

Presenting his findings at the Eighth Peer Review Congress this week in Chicago, Bolshete reported that, after sending hundreds of emails to publishers considered predatory according to the now-defunct (and controversial) list compiled by librarian Jeffrey Beall, 16% agreed to add an author to a paper.

Bolshete told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

September 13th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Carlo Croce, Ohio State researcher facing misconduct allegations, suing New York Times for defamation

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Carlo Croce

Carlo Croce, a cancer researcher at The Ohio State University who has faced numerous allegations of research misconduct, has filed a lawsuit against the New York Times, claiming the newspaper defamed him in a March 8 story.

Croce filed the civil suit May 10, in the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, naming as co-defendants Times reporters James Glanz and Agustin Armendariz, publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., and executive editor Dean Baquet. According to court documents, he’s seeking damages in excess of $75,000. The Times lawsuit was first reported by Courthouse News in May, but it’s actually the second defamation suit Croce filed that we know of.

In April, we’ve recently learned, Croce filed a separate defamation lawsuit against David Sanders, a professor at Purdue University and a key source for the Times story. Croce is seeking damages from Sanders in excess of $75,000.

Croce’s lawyer, Thomas Hill, of Columbus, Ohio firm Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter, told Retraction Watch his client was fighting a “David and Goliath battle” against the Times: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

September 8th, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Posted in united states

UCSF, VA investigations find “clear evidence” of misconduct in cancer papers

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Earlier this year, the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center teamed up to write a letter.

Addressed to the editorial office at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the letter, parts of which have been published in a retraction notice, contained information concerning two papers on genetic risk factors for a type of kidney cancer and a type of uterine cancer, respectively, published in different AACR journals over a decade ago by researchers affiliated with the institutions.

The papers had been at the center of research misconduct investigations at both UCSF and the VA and the investigations came to the conclusion that both papers contained:

fabrication or falsification of data that constitutes Research Misconduct.

Though one of the papers has been retracted, it’s unclear what will happen to the other. [Note: See update at the bottom of the post.] Read the rest of this entry »