Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘bmj’ Category

Spam me once, shame on you. (Academic) spam me 3000 times…?

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Every year, academics get thousands of spam emails inviting them to submit manuscripts or attend conferences — but don’t bother asking to “unsubscribe” for Christmas.

Spoiler alert, for those of you planning to read the rest of this post: It doesn’t make much of a difference.

That’s according to the conclusions of a study published in one of our favorite issues of the BMJ  — the Christmas issue. After a group of five self-described “intrepid academics” tried to unsubscribe from the 300+ spam invitations they received on average each month, the volume decreased by only 19% after one year.

Not surprisingly, many emails — approximately 1 in 6 — were duplicates (aka “reheated spam”), and the vast majority (83%) had little relevance to the researchers’ interests.

Study author Andrew Grey at the University of Auckland told us that since it’s the BMJ Christmas issue, they wanted to have a bit of fun. But it’s not an all-together light topic, he noted: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

December 14th, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Posted in bmj,bmj,new zealand

BMJ won’t retract controversial dietary guidelines article; issues lengthy correction

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bmjThe BMJ has released a detailed correction to a much-debated article critiquing the expert report underlying the U.S. dietary guidelines.

After the article was published in 2015, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) organized a letter signed by more than 100 researchers, urging the publication to retract the article. Today, the journal said it found “no grounds” to do so.

However, in a press release accompanying the announcement of the correction, the BMJ notes that some aspects of the CSPI’s criticisms were merited.

Editor in chief Fiona Godlee said in a statement:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

December 2nd, 2016 at 12:08 pm

What publishers and countries do most retractions for fake peer review come from?

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1092-coverA new analysis — which included scanning Retraction Watch posts — has identified some trends in papers pulled for fake peer review, a subject we’ve covered at length.

For those who aren’t familiar, fake reviews arise when researchers associated with the paper in question (most often authors) create email addresses for reviewers, enabling them to write their own positive reviews.

The article — released September 23 by the Postgraduate Medical Journal — found the vast majority of papers were retracted from journals with impact factors below 5, and most included co-authors based in China.

As described in the paper, “Characteristics of retractions related to faked peer reviews: an overview,” the authors searched Retraction Watch as well as various databases such as PubMed and Google Scholar, along with other media reports, and found 250 retractions for fake peer review.  (Since the authors concluded their analysis, the number of retractions due to faked reviews has continued to pile up; our latest tally is now 324.)

Here are the authors’ main findings: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 27th, 2016 at 9:32 am

BMJ won’t retract controversial dietary guidelines article, says author

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bmjThe BMJ is not going to retract a 2015 article criticizing the expert report underlying the U.S. dietary guidelines, despite heavy backlash from readers, according to the author of the article.

As Politico reported today, the publication told journalist Nina Teicholz it wouldn’t retract the article, first published one year ago today.

Teicholz confirmed to us the journal emailed her in April to say the article would not be retracted: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 23rd, 2016 at 2:41 pm

Is it dangerous to set quotas for research output?

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roosy

Roosy Aulakh

Yes, argues Roosy Aulakh, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandigarh, India. In last week’s BMJ, she argues that recent measures to force researchers in India to produce a minimum number of publications to obtain promotions could set the stage for many problems, including fraud.

Retraction Watch: You cite a recent paper that showed more than 50% of Indian medical institutions and hospitals didn’t publish a single paper between 2005 and 2014. Did that finding surprise you?

Roosy Aulakh: Well definitely yes! With over 400 medical colleges in India producing more than 50,000 doctors an year, such poor research output surely came as a surprise.

RW: In response, the Medical Council of India (MCI) is now requiring researchers to publish at least four articles to become an associate professor, and eight to become a professor. Does that concern you? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 19th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Despite apology, bagpipes study not slated for retraction

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Thorax

It’s not often that a paper elicits an apology — but that’s just what happened when family members first learned a bagpipe musician died from inhaling mold and fungi from a case study reported in a journal. The hospital has since apologized; the journal, however, told us it is not planning to issue a retraction.

The University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust in Wythenshawe, UK, has apologized and launched an internal investigation into the case report after the family’s distress was extensively covered by the UK’s mainstream media, such as The BBC, The Independent, The Daily Mail, and The Telegraph.

There seem to be conflicting accounts over whether any consent was obtained to publish the report. The Thorax paper says the patient gave consent, and according to Gisli Jenkins, co-editor-in-chief of the journal and a professor of experimental medicine at Nottingham University in the UK, consent was sought from the family. But the patient’s daughter told us that neither the next of kin nor the patient were approached for consent. 

The release of the report on August 22 was “completely unethical,” said Erin Tabinor, daughter of musician Bruce Campbell and a makeup artist in Liverpool, UK. Tabinor told us that the family wasn’t aware that playing bagpipes was the cause of Campbell’s death: Read the rest of this entry »

Should systematic reviewers report suspected misconduct?

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BMJ Open

Authors of systematic review articles sometimes overlook misconduct and conflicts of interest present in the research they are analyzing, according to a recent study published in BMJ Open.

During the study, researchers reviewed 118 systematic reviews published in 2013 in four high-profile medical journals — Annals of Internal Medicine, the British Medical Journal, The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet. In addition, the authors contacted review authors to ask additional questions; 80 (69%) responded. The review included whether the authors had followed certain procedures to ensure the integrity of the data they were compiling, such as checking for duplicate publications, and analyzing if the authors’ conflicts of interest may have impacted the findings. 

Carrying out a systematic review involves collecting and critically analyzing multiple studies in the same area. It’s especially useful for accumulating and weighing conflicting or supporting evidence by multiple research groups. A byproduct of the process is that it can also help spot odd practices such duplication of publicationsRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 16th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Is China using organs from executed prisoners? Researchers debate issue in the literature

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Journal of Medical EthicsA researcher is calling for the retraction of a paper about a recent ban in the use of organs from executed prisoners in China, accusing the authors of misrepresenting the state of the practice.

In April 2015, a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics welcomed the ban by the Chinese government as “a step in the right direction,” but noted that China remains plagued by a crucial shortage in available organs.

Some academics disagreed with the authors’ take on the issue, noting that the paper fails to note that many organs may continue to be harvested from Chinese prisoners of conscience; ultimately, the journal received a letter asking to retract the paper. The journal decided not to, and instead asked the authors to issue a lengthy correction, for instance changing the language about the government decision (“law” became“guideline”), and allowed critics to publish a rebuttal to the paper in May 2016.  Read the rest of this entry »

Against authors’ wishes, journal pulls study with errors, statistical mistake

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Annals of the Rheumatic DiseasesA rheumatology journal has retracted a paper about treating knee pain after an institutional investigation found a mistake in the statistical process.

Over several months, the authors proposed a series of corrections to the 2014 study. However, the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (ARD) decided that there were “unresolved concerns” about the reliability of the data, and decided to retract the paper entirely, despite the authors’ objections.

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

In precedent break, BMJ explains why it rejected controversial “weekend effect” paper

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After the reviewer of a rejected paper was publicly outed, the BMJ has taken the unusual step of explaining why it chose not to publish the paper.

The paper — eventually published in another journal — raised hackles for suggesting that there is no “weekend effect,” or a higher mortality rate in hospitals on Saturday and Sunday. This caught the attention of UK policy makers, who have proposed changing policies to compensate for any supposed “weekend effect.”

Amidst the heated discussion about the research, one of the reviewers was identified, along with suggestions that he may have been conflicted because he had published a study showing the opposite finding. Yesterday, the BMJ posted a blog explaining that it was the editors — and not one sole reviewer — who decided to reject the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 17th, 2016 at 11:49 am