In wake of media scrutiny, Sloan Kettering author adds financial disclosures

Michelle Bradbury, via MSKCC

A month after a journalism investigation that led to resignations and turmoil at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, researchers including a Sloan Kettering scientist have quietly corrected at least two papers to add disclosures of financial conflicts of interest.

The two corrections, in Chemistry of Materials, are dated October 8, 2018 and read: Continue reading In wake of media scrutiny, Sloan Kettering author adds financial disclosures

Journal flags papers, saying authors didn’t adequately disclose ties to Monsanto

A toxicology journal has issued an expression of concern for a group of papers about the controversial herbicide glyphosate after concluding that some of the authors didn’t adequately disclose their ties to the maker of the product.

At issue are five articles that appeared in a 2016 supplement to Critical Reviews in Toxicology, a Taylor & Francis title, about the chemical, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s blockbuster weed-killer Roundup. Although the authors of the articles don’t overlap perfectly, Keith Solomon, of the University of Guelph, in Canada, appears on three of the articles; Gary Williams, of New York Medical College, appears on three as well.

Williams was caught up in a ghost-writing scandal after court documents revealed that he had put his name on a published paper written by Monsanto employees. Solomon served on a panel funded by Monsanto that undercut the conclusions of a report from the World Health Organization that glyphosate is probably cancerous to people.

According to the expression of concern, which was first reported by Bloomberg today:    Continue reading Journal flags papers, saying authors didn’t adequately disclose ties to Monsanto

Caught Our Notice: Climate change leads to more…neurosurgery for polar bears?

Title: Internet Blogs, Polar Bears, and Climate-Change Denial by Proxy

What Caught Our Attention: There’s a lot going on here, so bear with us. (Ba-dum-bum.)

First, there was the paper itself, co-authored by, among others, Michael Mann and Stephan Lewandowsky. Both names may be familiar to Retraction Watch readers. Mann is a prominent climate scientist who has sued the National Review for defamation. A study by Lewandowsky and colleagues of “the role of conspiracist ideation in climate denial” was the subject of several Retraction Watch posts when it was retracted and then republished in a different form. And the conclusion of the new paper, in Bioscience, seemed likely to draw the ire of many who objected to the earlier work: Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Climate change leads to more…neurosurgery for polar bears?

Journal retracts letter for missing disclosure author says he tried to submit

An emergency medicine journal has retracted a letter to the editor, saying it didn’t include the author’s relevant commercial interest—which the author says he tried to disclose when he submitted the paper.

The author, Guy Weinberg, told Retraction Watch he had noted his conflict of interest when he submitted the letter last March, but said he did not use the journal’s disclosure form. He added that his primary concern is that the editors didn’t reach out to him to discuss the issue prior to retracting the letter.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Assessing Efficacy of Lipid in Unstable, non-LAST Overdose Patients,” published on Sept. 18 in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine: Continue reading Journal retracts letter for missing disclosure author says he tried to submit

Journal replaces anti-vaccine paper it retracted for missing conflicts, “number of errors”

A journal retracted a paper about how conflicts of interest might be influencing research into the link between vaccines and autism because — wait for it — the authors failed to disclose conflicts of interest.

According to the retraction notice, the editors retracted the paper without the authors’ agreement, because the authors had a host of personal and professional interests in the field they didn’t declare, such as being associated with organizations involved in autism and vaccine safety. What’s more, the article also contained “a number of errors, and mistakes of various types that raise concerns about the validity of the conclusion.”

But now, Science and Engineering Ethics has published a new version of the article that draws similar conclusions to the retracted one, albeit with an updated conflict of interest statement, among other changes. From the abstract of the revised version: Continue reading Journal replaces anti-vaccine paper it retracted for missing conflicts, “number of errors”

Most editors of top medical journals receive industry payments: report

Victoria Wong

When examining the roles of conflicts of interest in academic publishing, most research focuses on transparency around the payments authors receive. But what about journal editors? According to a new Peer J preprint, two-thirds of editors at prominent journals received some type of industry payment over the last few years – which, at many journals, editors are never required to disclose. (The findings echo those reported by another recent paper in The BMJ, published six days later.) We spoke with Victoria Wong at The Queens Medical Center in Hawaii, first author of the Peer J preprint.

Retraction Watch: In studies of academic integrity, most people concentrate on the authors who submit to journals, and on the articles published by journals, as a way to assess the integrity of science publications.  What drew your attention to the individual editors and their possible influence on the process?

Continue reading Most editors of top medical journals receive industry payments: report

“We would now catch” this conflict of interest: Hindawi journal retracts two papers

A computer science journal has retracted two papers, after discovering “a conflict of interest between the handling editor and one of the authors.”

Matt Hodgkinson, head of research integrity at Hindawi Limited, which publishes the journal Scientific World Journal, told us that the conflict of interest stemmed from the fact that Zheng Xu, an author on both papers, and Xiangfeng Luo, the handling editor on the papers, were “frequent collaborators.”

Xu—who is based at The Third Research Institute of Ministry of Public Security in Shanghai—and Luo—a professor in the School of Computer Engineering and Science at Shanghai University—have co-authored dozens of papers together, including several that were cited in the now-retracted articles. Luo also told us that Xu was his former PhD student.

When Hindawi approached Xu about the conflict of interest, Xu told us he “fully agreed” to retract the articles but claimed there was another reason for the retraction involving a special issue in the journal. More on that in a moment. Continue reading “We would now catch” this conflict of interest: Hindawi journal retracts two papers

What should journals do when peer reviewers do not disclose potential conflicts?

Peer reviewers, like authors, are supposed to declare any potential conflicts of interest. But what happens when they don’t?

Take this case: In a court transcript from Feb. 23, 2017, Bryan Hardin testified that he was a peer reviewer on a 2016 paper in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, which found that asbestos does not increase the risk of cancer. In the deposition, Hardin—who works at the consulting firm Veritox—also said that he has testified in asbestos litigation on behalf of automakers, such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, but said he had not disclosed these relationships to the journal.

Last year, the first author of the 2016 review withdrew a paper from another journal (by the same publisher) which concluded asbestos roofing products are safe, following several criticisms — including not disclosing the approving editor’s ties to the asbestos industry. In this latest case, the journal told us it believes the review process for the paper was up to snuff, but two outside experts we consulted said they believed Hardin’s relationships — and failure to disclose them — should give the journal pause.

We obtained a copy of the transcript from Christian Hartley, who was representing a man suing a mining company because the man developed cancer after being exposed to asbestos at work. When Hartley asked Hardin whether he had told the journal about testifying for companies involved in asbestos litigation, Hardin responded:

Continue reading What should journals do when peer reviewers do not disclose potential conflicts?

Undisclosed conflicts of interest usually lead to corrections – but for some journals, that’s not enough

When authors are faced with filling out a journal’s conflict of interest form, deciding what qualifies as a relevant conflict can be tricky. When such omissions come to light, only rarely do they result in retractions – and certainly not author bans. But there are exceptions.

In October, the journal Chest retracted a 2015 review article exploring how mechanical ventilation can be used most effectively to manage acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) after finding that the authors failed “to disclose all relevant conflicts of interest.” What’s more, the journal initially planned to ban the two authors with undisclosed conflicts from submitting papers to the journal for three years, but ultimately decided against it.

The Committee on Publication Ethics says that retractions may be warranted in cases of undisclosed conflicts of interest, but in our experience, most notices that cite that reason mention other problems with the paper, as well. Not this case – here, the only thing that seemed wrong with the paper was the authors’ failure to mention their ties to a ventilator company. The authors requested a correction – the usual fix, one accepted by the other journals they contacted – but to Chest, that wasn’t enough.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Mechanical Ventilation as a Therapeutic Tool to Reduce ARDS Incidence”: Continue reading Undisclosed conflicts of interest usually lead to corrections – but for some journals, that’s not enough

A journal said it would retract a paper about asbestos — now it’s “withdrawn.” What changed?

journal-of-occupational-and-environmental-hygieneEarlier this year, an environmental journal told an activist group it was going to retract a study about the safety of roofing products made from asbestos. Now the journal has let the authors withdraw the paper — a different process, according to the journal.

The move follows multiple letters from critics asking to retract a study, which found exposure to asbestos-containing roofing products to be within safe limits. The study’s critics claimed that it contains multiple problems, including not declaring the approving editor’s links with the asbestos industry, grouping together different materials with varying levels of asbestos exposures, and providing misleading information.

Although the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) initially said it planned to retract the paper, last month, Stephen Reynolds, president of JOEH’s board of directors, sent a letter to Kathleen Ruff, director of the organization Right On Canada, saying plans had changed: Continue reading A journal said it would retract a paper about asbestos — now it’s “withdrawn.” What changed?