Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘breach of ethical policy’ Category

Journal retracts surgery study with data “not intended for use in research”

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A journal has retracted a surgery study by researchers at Brown University after noticing it included data that was not intended for research purposes. (Incidentally, the data were collected by the publisher of the journal.)

Ingrid Philbert, managing editor of the Journal of Graduate Medical Education — which published the paper — told Retraction Watch that senior staff at the publisher alerted the journal that they suspected the authors had used data from a confidential source:

This is a fairly new set of case log data, and as the collector [of] the data, the [Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)] gets to determine the use and it has decreed that this data be used solely for accreditation decisions.

Philbert said the journal asked the authors where they got the data:

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Study errors “may have placed you or your child at a greater risk of harm”: 2014 letter to parents

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Mani Pavuluri

Mani Pavuluri

Three psychiatric studies of children contained a myriad of problems that may have put participants at greater risk than was disclosed by consent forms, according to a 2014 letter sent to hundreds of the participants and their families.

Through a public records request, we’ve obtained a copy of the letter — which lists a host of problems in the studies, ranging from enrolling ineligible patients, not informing families of the risks associated with the studies, and skipping tests intended to minimize the risks associated with lithium.

In 2013, Mani Pavuluri told the University of Illinois at Chicago that one of her study participants had been hospitalized — an event which prompted the university to halt three of her studies, launch a misconduct probe, and send letters to approximately 350 families of children participating in the research, notifying them of what happened.

The letter concludes:

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Authors retract paper lacking approval to study asthma in athletes

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british-journal-of-sports-medicineThe 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 MedicineJulie 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.

Stein Evensen, the committee member who wrote the article, declined to comment beyond the published text. So we’ve gotten the kronikk article translated from Norwegian using One Hour Translation. It reads: Read the rest of this entry »

Should journals reject papers solely on ethical grounds?

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biological-conservation

Recently, an ecology journal received a submission that made them pause. In order to conduct their research, the authors had to kill thousands of fish. The study had been approved by conservation authorities, but it still wasn’t sitting well with the journal.

So it rejected the paper, on ethical grounds.

Biological Conservation explained its decision in a recent paper, noting the killing of thousands of vertebrates (marine and freshwater fish) in a protected area was “unnecessary and inappropriate,” and adds the journal will continue questioning and rejecting papers that “do not meet reasonable standards of practice.”

This is not a universal practice, however — years ago, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published the results of a research project that resulted in 90 people becoming infected with HIV. Again, that study had obtained the necessary ethical approvals — but should the journal act as the final judge?

According to the editors of Biological Conservation, yes. In “Field work ethics in biological research,” they write: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

November 15th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Cardiovascular researcher in Taiwan logs four retractions

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clinical-scienceA researcher has earned four retractions following an investigation at his institutions in Taiwan.

The retraction notices, which appear in Clinical Science, mention investigations into the work of Kou-Gi Shyu at the Shin-Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital and Taipei Medical University (TMU).

Shyu is listed as being affiliated with both institutions in the original papers, but a TMU official told us Shyu left his teaching role at TMU amidst the probe. Shyr-Yi Lin, professor of medicine and dean of research and development at TMU, noted: Read the rest of this entry »

Child psychiatrist flagged for misconduct loses two more papers

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Mani PavuluriA child psychiatrist has lost two papers after an institutional investigation concluded that she intentionally misrepresented children’s medication history in her research.

In November 2015, we reported on a retraction for Mani Pavuluri in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience following a probe at the University of Illinois at Chicago, her institution, which concluded that there was a “preponderance of evidence” that Pavuluri had committed misconduct. 

After an “unanticipated event” took place during a study, three studies by Pavuluri were halted and a letter was sent out to 350 research subjects, informing them of errors in the work. At the time, the Illinois spokesperson noted that Pavuluri — who, according to her LinkedIn page, is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry — was also asked to retract two 2013 studies in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Those papers have now been retracted, noting that Pavuluri “intentionally and knowingly” misrepresented children’s medication history.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Deficits in emotion recognition in pediatric bipolar disorder: The mediating effects of irritability:” Read the rest of this entry »

Does your work need IRB approval? Better check, says author of retracted paper

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screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-9-51-48-pm

Does an article that discusses anonymized student projects about how to catalog data count as research on human subjects?

One of the students included in the paper thought so, and complained to the journal after learning that it had published the case study of the program without the approval required for studying people. The authors admitted they didn’t get consent from participants, because they didn’t realize the work required it. The mix-up has prompted both them and the journal to reconsider their policies regarding ethics approval of studies.

In the meantime, “A Project-Based Case Study of Data Science Education” has been retracted, with this notice:

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Social networking site privacy breach complaint prompts retraction

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patients-like-meA journal has removed a paper after realizing it contained a verbatim quote from a patient that could reveal the patient’s identity.

The journal learned of the slip-up after receiving a complaint from a social networking site for patients called PatientsLikeMe, which enables people with similar conditions to connect with each other. The retracted paper — ironically about automatically sanitizing private information on social networking sites — included a brief quote from an HIV-positive user of the site, containing specific dates and infections the patient had experienced.

The corresponding author of the study in Expert Systems and Applications confirmed to us that the letter from PatientsLikeMe about two lines of text in the study triggered its removal.

The journal has republished an updated version of the paper without the problematic text. 

Here’s an excerpt from the complaint, sent by Paul Wicks, Principal Scientist and Vice President of Innovation at PatientsLikeMe, to the researchers and the journal in December 2015: Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

UK doctor banned from practice after fabricating data in grant applications

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Queen Mary University of LondonA prominent cancer researcher in England has been banned from practicing medicine and has lost his funding from a UK charity after being found to have fabricated data in grant applications.

The moves against the researcher, Thorsten Hagemann, come after investigations by the General Medical Council, akin to a U.S. state medical board, and Hagemann’s former institution, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), turned up evidence of misconduct. In June, we reported on the retraction of a meeting abstract in The Journal of Pathology and the corrigendum of a Nature paper by Hagemann following the inquiry at QMUL.

A spokesperson from the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service told the Evening Standard: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 8th, 2016 at 2:00 pm