Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘wiley’ Category

Released FDA docs reveal details of agency’s (failed) attempt to retract paper

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Earlier this year, a raging controversy regarding a new drug spilled into the pages of a leading medical journal: the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and another official publicly called for the retraction or correction of a peer-reviewed article about the drug. They didn’t get their wish. Now, documents released by the FDA via a lawsuit shed light on the attempt — and show how tricky it can be to correct the official record.

The controversy surrounds the approval of eteplirsen, a drug approved last September to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare but invariably fatal disease that strikes (mostly) young boys. Eteplirsen was approved over the objections of the FDA team that reviewed the drug, which determined that there was insufficient evidence to approve the drug.

But the controversy didn’t end within the walls of the FDA complex. Ellis Unger, who led the review team, believed that one of the principal studies of the drug, published in the Annals of Neurology, was “misleading” because it was based on “unreliable data.” So in early November, Unger, joined by the then-head of the FDA, Robert Califf, took the extremely rare move of writing to the editor of the journal to “urge that the paper be corrected or retracted….”

According to the documents, the authors of the Annals article did, in fact, agree to correct the article.

On November 9, 2016, Clifford Saper, Annals‘ editor in chief, wrote to Califf and Unger:

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Written by Charles Seife

August 21st, 2017 at 8:20 am

Uni dings schizophrenia studies for problems with informed consent, other flaws

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Psychiatry journals have retracted two papers evaluating a schizophrenia drug after a university in Japan flagged issues, such as a lack of written informed consent.

The papers—published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental in 2012 and Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences in 2014—examined the safety and effectiveness of an antipsychotic drug in patients with schizophrenia.

According to the retraction notice in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, the ethics committee at St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki found that “the trial included subjects who did not satisfy inclusion criteria.” For instance, not all patients provided written informed consent. But the university found no evidence for data falsification or fabrication.

A spokesperson for Human Psychopharmacology told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Want to appeal a journal’s rejection? Sure — that’ll be $700

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Different journals follow different editorial policies — but we’ve never seen any charge money to authors who want to appeal an editorial decision. Until now.

Recently, a criminal justice researcher sent us links to multiple journals that charge appeal fees. For instance, the Journal of Accounting Research says authors must pay $500 for each submission — and another $500 if they want the journal to reconsider its decision to reject the paper.

Under “Appeals,” the journal writes:

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More notices appear for embattled Cornell food researcher

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Journals have posted two corrections alongside papers by Brian Wansink, a food researcher whose work has lately come under fire.

One of the corrected papers was among the initial batch that raised eyebrows last year; after Wansink praised the productivity of one of his researchers, critics suggested four papers contained critical flaws. The questions about his work soon extended to other papers, one of which was retracted in April. That month, an internal review by Cornell University announced that Wansink made numerous mistakes, but did not commit misconduct. Wansink has pledged to reanalyze multiple papers.

One paper that was among those initially criticized has received a formal correction notice from the Journal of Product & Brand Management. The notice, which appears behind a paywall, has drawn fire from a regular critic of Wansink’s work, Jordan Anaya, who argues “this correction actually needs a correction, actually several.”

Here’s the notice for “Peak-end pizza: prices delay evaluations of quality:”

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Are there foxes in Tasmania? Follow the poop

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Stephen Sarre, based at the University of Canberra in Australia, has made a career out of collecting and analyzing poop.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Part of his work is designed to answer a multi-million dollar question: Is Tasmania home to foxes, a pest that carries rabies and other diseases and can ravage local wildlife? According to the Australian news outlet ABCthe Tasmanian and Australian governments have spent $50 million (AUD) on hunting foxes on the island since 2001 — even though many have debated whether they are even there.

In 2012, after analyzing thousands of fecal samples, Sarre published a paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology which boldly claimed that “Foxes are now widespread in Tasmania.” But many outside researchers didn’t buy it, and quickly voiced their criticisms of the paper, namely that there may be problems with false positives and the methodology used to analyze the samples. Recently, the journal issued an expression of concern for the paper, citing an ongoing investigation into the allegations.

Here’s the expression of concern (paywalled, tsk tsk):

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The retraction countdown: How quickly do journals pull papers?

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After Tina Wenz was found guilty of scientific misconduct, how long did it take for journals to retract the problematic papers?  The answer: Between three and nine months.

In September 2016, the University of Cologne found that Wenz had committed scientific misconduct in six papers and requested they all be retracted. From that point on, the retraction clock was ticking.

We’ve explored how long it takes a journal to act over the years, and we’ve found that the time between identifying a problem to retracting the paper can vary — and sometimes last years.

In Wenz’s case, one of the papers—published in Cell Metabolism in 2009—had already been retracted in 2015. Three of the remaining five were retracted in December 2016—a 2008 paper in Cell Metabolism, a 2009 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), and a 2009 paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

In January 2017, the journal IUBMB Life pulled a 2014 paper flagged in the investigation. And just over nine months after Wenz was found guilty of misconduct, the last paper—published in 2013 in Mitochondrion—has been retracted.

The most recent notice states that the University of Cologne requested the retractions, after determining that the data had been “inappropriately manipulated.”

Here’s the retraction notice in Mitochondrion:

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Inclusion of “personal correspondence” in evolution paper prompts retraction, new journal policy

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Hearsay is not admissible as evidence in court — and it doesn’t seem to go very far in science, either.

A pair of researchers in the field of human evolution have lost a paper which contained data from “personal correspondence” that the providing party apparently did not enjoy seeing in print.

The article, “Early hominin biogeography in Island Southeast Asia,” was published in the September/October 2015 issue of Evolutionary Anthropology. The authors, Roy Larick and Russell Ciochon, are paleoanthropologists and co-founders of the Iowa-Bandung Java Project — a 20-year old collaborative effort to study the origins of early humans in Indonesia. Read the rest of this entry »

Plagiarism costs author five papers in five different journals

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An engineering researcher has written about models tackling a range of complex issues — security problems in Iraq, poverty in Europe, and emergency responses to humanitarian crises. But there may be some limits to his expertise: Between 2016 and 2017, five journals have retracted five of his papers, citing plagiarism.

Some of the notices describe the plagiarism as “extensive,” “significant,” and “substantial.” One journal editor, who retracted one of Kubilay Kaptan’s papers last year, told us the paper “was simply a direct copy from an existing one.”

The editor noted that Kaptan — who lists his affiliation as the Civil Engineering Department at Beykent University in Istanbul — claimed to be “the victim of a personal smear campaign, which involved submitting plagiarised manuscripts in his name.” We reached out to Kaptan several times by phone and email to verify this claim, but did not hear back.

Here’s the most recent retraction, for a 2016 paper published in Journal of Refugee Studies  Read the rest of this entry »

12 years after researcher found guilty of misconduct, journal retracts paper

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In 2005, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity found an obesity researcher had engaged in scientific misconduct.

More specifically, the ORI report revealed that Eric Poehlman, then based at the University of Vermont, had “falsified and fabricated” data in 10 papers. The 2005 report asked that the journals issue retractions or corrections to the papers. By 2006, six of those papers were retracted (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). In 2006, a judge sentenced Poehlman to one year and one day in prison for falsifying research data.

In 2015, we explored how long it takes a journal to retract a paper. We found that four of the 10 papers had still not been retracted — one appeared to be missing from Medline, another had received a correction (as the ORI report requested), and two had not been retracted or corrected (1, 2).

Until now. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

June 21st, 2017 at 11:45 am

Journal hit by citation scandal named among top in field

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It’s been a mixed year for Wiley’s Land Degradation & Development.

Following accusations of citation irregularities at the journal (whose its Impact Factor rose dramatically from 3.089 in 2014 to 8.145 in 2015), its editor was asked to resign. Another editor resigned shortly after.

But last week, Clarivate Analytics named the journal among the top 10 in the field of climate change, as part of its annual Journal Citation Reports.

The annual report also lists a number of journals that have been suppressed from Clarivate’s analysis “due to anomalous citation patterns;” Land Degradation & Development is not listed among the 13 journals this year.

A spokesperson for Clarivate told us:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 19th, 2017 at 9:23 am