Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘erroneous data’ Category

Authors retract two statin papers, one with problems “too extensive to revise”

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Researchers in China have retracted two 2016 papers about the possible use of a cholesterol-lowering agent to treat bleeding on the brain.

One of the retracted papers in the Journal of Neurosurgery (JNS) had multiple problems that were “too extensive to revise,” according to the lengthy retraction notice, relating to issues with authorship, data analyses, and patient enrollment. The notice is signed by first author Hua Liu of the Nanjing Medical University in China.

Liu is also the first author of another recently retracted paper in Frontiers in Neuroscience, pulled for incorrectly categorizing patients.

The JNS retraction notice begins: Read the rest of this entry »

Harvard biologist retracts diabetes breakthrough in Cell

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2013 probably felt like it was going to be a great year for stem cell biologist Douglas Melton at Harvard. He had published a buzz-worthy paper in Cell about a new way to potentially boost insulin in diabetics, attracting significant media attention, and eventually gathering nearly 200 citations.

But 2016 is closing out on a less positive tone for Melton — today, he and his colleagues are retracting the paper, after multiple labs (including his own) couldn’t reproduce the findings.

Although the lab has itself already published two articles casting doubt on the original findings, Melton told Retraction Watch he chose to retract the paper to ensure there was no confusion about the original paper’s validity: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

December 27th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Error-laden database kills paper on extinction patterns

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An ecologist in Australia realized a database he was using to spot trends in extinction patterns was problematic, affecting two papers. One journal issued an expression of concern, which has since turned into a retraction. So far, the other journal has left the paper untouched.

The now-retracted paper concluded that medium-sized species on islands tend to go extinct more often than large or small mammalian species. But a little over a year ago, Biology Letters flagged the paper with an expression of concern (EOC), noting “concerns regarding the validity of some of the data and methods used in the analysis.”

Now, last author Marcel Cardillo at Australian National University has come to a new conclusion about extinction patterns. A retraction notice that has replaced the EOC explains:

Read the rest of this entry »

Entomology journal retracts 2016 study with flawed analyses

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journal-of-medical-entomologyAn entomology journal has issued its first retraction during the current editor’s nearly 30-year tenure — for a 2016 study with serious flaws in the analyses. 

After the Journal of Medical Entomology (JME) published the study — about the identification of genes that enable an insect to detect odors — an outside researcher wrote a letter to the journal highlighting flaws in the paper. The journal then asked the authors to respond, and enlisted two additional peer reviewers to look into the study, the outside comment, and the authors’ response. They concluded the paper should be retracted.

William Reisen — the journal’s editor-in-chief from the University of California, Davis — said the journal believes the errors were unintentional and there was no fraud on the authors’ part. He added: Read the rest of this entry »

“A sinking feeling in my gut:” Diary of a retraction

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Daniel Bolnick is photographed at HHMI’s Janelia Farms campus on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 in Ashburn, Va. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for HHMI)

When an ecologist realized he’d made a fatal error in a 2009 paper, he did the right thing: He immediately contacted the journal (Evolutionary Ecology Research) to ask for a retraction. But he didn’t stop there: He wrote a detailed blog post outlining how he learned — in October 2016, after a colleague couldn’t recreate his data — he had misused a statistical tool (using R programing), which ended up negating his findings entirely. We spoke to Daniel Bolnick at the University of Texas at Austin (and an early career scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute) about what went wrong with his paper “Diet similarity declines with morphological distance between conspecific individuals,” and why he chose to be so forthright about it.

Retraction Watch: You raise a good point in your explanation of what went wrong with the statistical analysis: Eyeballing the data, they didn’t look significant. But when you plugged in the numbers (it turns out, incorrectly), they were significant – albeit weakly. So you reported the result. Did this teach you the importance of trusting your gut, and the so-called “eye-test” when looking at data? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

December 8th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Researchers retract paper after they run out of breast milk

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If you think something is amiss with your data, running an experiment again to figure out what’s going on is a good move. But it’s not always possible.

A team of researchers in Seoul recently found themselves in a bind when they needed to check their work, but were out of a key substance: breast milk.

The shortage led them to the retract their 2016 paper on a micronutrient found in breast milk that helps protect infants’ retinas. “Association between lutein intake and lutein concentrations in human milk samples from lactating mothers in South Korea,” was published online last spring in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

Here’s the retraction notice: 

Read the rest of this entry »

Tomato study didn’t get co-author okays, includes unreliable data

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scientia-horticulturaeA journal has retracted a paper examining the traits of drought-resistant tomatoes after an investigation at the first author’s institution in Italy found a number of problems.

For starters, the first author — Maria Riccardi of the National Research Council of Italy-Institute for Agricultural and Forest Systems in the Mediterranean (CNR-ISAFOM) in Ercolano, Naples, Italy — apparently submitted the paper without consulting the study’s four other listed co-authors. What’s more, according to the retraction notice in Scientia Horticulturae, the paper’s description of the experiment “does not reflect the real conditions under which the data was collected,” rendering the findings invalid.  

Riccardo d’Andria, CNR-ISAFOM’s former director who conducted an investigation into the case, said Read the rest of this entry »

Authors pull malaria study after arguing over the results

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journal-of-advanced-pharmaceutical-technology-researchResearchers have retracted a study about malaria infections in India after follow-up research unveiled problems with the data and set off a dispute among the authors.

According to the notice, when the authors continued their research on the same topic, some of the new data raised concerns about what was reported in the 2010 paper. That set off a “number of disputes between authors,” which led them to retract the paper.

This account was supported by the study’s first and corresponding author, Naitik Trivedi, from the A.R. College of Pharmacy & G.H. Patel Institute of Pharmacy in Anand, Gujarat, India. Trivedi told us he believes the previous study didn’t include some relevant parameters, which affected the results. 

Trivedi noted that all the authors agree to the retraction, adding: Read the rest of this entry »

Despite retraction, antipsychotics still effective, safe for dementia, says author

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alzheimers-research-and-therapyResearchers have retracted a systematic review that suggested that antipsychotic drugs are effective and safe for patients with symptoms of dementia — but claim their re-analysis of the updated data still comes to the same conclusions.

According to the retraction notice in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, some participants were incorrectly included twice in the meta-analysis. 

The corresponding authors recently lost another paper for an entirely different reason — earlier this year, we reported on a retraction in Annals of Neurology for Jin-Tai Yu and Lan Tanaffiliated with the Ocean University of China, Qingdao University, and Nanjing Medical University in China. The authors pulled that paper after appearing to pass off others’ data as their own.

Here’s the retraction notice for the review, issued earlier this year: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors retract (and replace) cardiac rehab study in JAMA journal

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Researchers have retracted and replaced a 2014 paper in JAMA Internal Medicine after realizing a number of errors had affected the findings.

The authors note the mistakes do not have a significant impact on the overall proportion of heart patients who participated in cardiac rehab. However, a number of findings were affected, such as the difference in participation in cardiac rehab defined by race, and how the overall participation has changed throughout the years.

Therefore, JAMA Internal Medicine has published a lengthy notice of retraction and replacement, which explains the errors made in the original paper, and updated the first paper with a new version of the study.

The retraction and replacement notice, issued this week, starts: Read the rest of this entry »