A 2015 PNAS paper is six pages long. Its correction is four pages long.

Sometimes, corrections are so extensive, they can only be called one thing: Mega-corrections.

Recently, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) issued a four-page correction notice to a paper about a compound that appeared to reduce the chances a cancer will recur. The notice describes figure duplication, problems with error bars and figure legends — as well as the loss of statistical significance for some data.

According to the authors’ statement in the notice:

Continue reading A 2015 PNAS paper is six pages long. Its correction is four pages long.

Distraction paper pulled for clerical error

The authors of a 2018 paper on how noisy distractions disrupt memory are retracting the article after finding a flaw in their study.

The paper, “Unexpected events disrupt visuomotor working memory and increase guessing,” appeared in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, a publication of the Psychonomic Society. (For those keeping score at home, psychonomics is the study of the laws of the mind.)

The article purported to show that an unexpected “auditory event,” like the sudden blare of a car horn, reduced the ability of people to remember visuomotor cues. Per the abstract:

Continue reading Distraction paper pulled for clerical error

A journal decided to correct, rather than retract, a paper that contained “potentially contentious advice.” Do you agree with their call?

In March, a journal published a paper about blood sugar levels in newborns that caused an immediate outcry from outside experts, who were concerned it contained a sentence that could be potentially harmful if misinterpreted by doctors.

Recently, the journal explained — in impressive detail — why it’s not retracting the paper. That, of course, gives readers the ability to form their own opinions. After seeing the pros and cons, let us know if you think the journal made the right call in a poll at the bottom of the story.

When it first appeared, the paper — “Newborn plasma glucose concentration nadirs by gestational-age group,” published by Neonatology — included this sentence in its abstract:

In order to potentially prevent low glucose concentrations at the time of the nadir, exogenous glucose should be provided to all newborns as soon as possible after birth.

According to an editorial note published by the journal’s editors, that caused immediate concern for outside experts:

Continue reading A journal decided to correct, rather than retract, a paper that contained “potentially contentious advice.” Do you agree with their call?

Does the Mediterranean diet prevent heart attacks? NEJM retracts (and replaces) high-profile paper

The New England Journal of Medicine has retracted a 2013 paper that provided some proof that the Mediterranean diet can directly prevent heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.

The original paper, “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet,” has been cited 1,759 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

But the findings haven’t disappeared — the authors have replaced the paper with a new version, which softens its earlier claims. Continue reading Does the Mediterranean diet prevent heart attacks? NEJM retracts (and replaces) high-profile paper

How much cancer stems from diabetes, obesity? Lancet journal swaps high-profile paper

Six months ago, the media was ablaze with the findings of a new paper, showing that nearly six percent of cancer cases are caused, at least in part, by obesity and diabetes. But this week, the journal retracted that paper — and replaced it with a revised version.

The new paper doesn’t change the main findings much — the share of all cancers attributable to diabetes and obesity changed from 5.6% to 5.7%, which wouldn’t change any headlines about the original paper. But soon after the paper was published, a group of researchers noticed the authors’ mistake — which was significant enough to prompt the journal to retract the paper entirely, and swap it with a new one.

According to first author Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard at Imperial College London:

Continue reading How much cancer stems from diabetes, obesity? Lancet journal swaps high-profile paper

That study reporting worrisome levels of zinc in tuna? It’s being retracted

Recently, a rash of news outlets posted concerns that canned tuna and other products may contain potentially dangerous levels of zinc. They were all wrong.

News outlets such as The Daily Mail and The Sun reported findings from a recent study, which showed that canned foods such as tuna may contain 100 times the daily limit of zinc — raising concerns about how such huge doses of the mineral could be causing digestion problems. The last author of the study told Retraction Watch the paper is going to be retracted, because the authors made a fundamental error calculating the amount of zinc present in canned foods.

Last week, the UK’s biggest health website NHS Choices posted a critique of the paper, in which they recalculated the levels of zinc present in canned foods:

Continue reading That study reporting worrisome levels of zinc in tuna? It’s being retracted

Whoops: Authors didn’t mean to include new data in article about transgender identity

Here’s something we don’t see that often — authors retracting one of their articles because it included new data.

But that is the case with a 2017 review exploring the potential genetic and hormonal underpinnings of gender identity.  The authors Rosa Fernández García and Eduardo Pásaro Mendez told Retraction Watch that they asked bioethics journal Cuadernos de Bioética to withdraw their review after realizing it “indirectly” mentioned some of their unpublished work. According to García, the authors had hoped to publish the new data in a scientific paper before the review came out, but the review ended up being published first.  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Is Sexual Identity Optional? A Study of The Genetics of Transsexuality:”

Continue reading Whoops: Authors didn’t mean to include new data in article about transgender identity

Authors retract, replace highly cited paper on ADHD in kids

Researchers have retracted and replaced a 2014 paper in JAMA Psychiatry, exploring a new way to classify attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, after discovering errors in the data.

Some experts have criticized the current diagnostic criteria for ADHD—noting, in some cases, it could inflate the rate of diagnosis. Sarah L. Karalunas, the paper’s corresponding author, told Retraction Watch that the aim of the study was to look beyond current criteria and “demonstrate an approach that could be used to better delineate the boundaries of ADHD and other psychiatric diagnostic categories.”   Continue reading Authors retract, replace highly cited paper on ADHD in kids

Authors claim clinical trial data came from one center. It came from three.

A BMJ journal has retracted a 2017 paper that made a false claim about the clinical trial in question. 

The Acupuncture in Medicine paper reported the results of a clinical trial about the impact of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine on stroke, gathered from one center. However, in November, the editors of the journal discovered that the authors had completed the trial at three centers, and had already published the data in Scientific Reports in 2016. The authors say the duplication and misrepresentation of the data stemmed from “confusion and misunderstanding.” Continue reading Authors claim clinical trial data came from one center. It came from three.

Author: “The retractions were about bureaucracy, not science”

A researcher has retracted two 2014 papers, after discovering they had not gone through the proper approval process before being submitted.

The papers were part of a collaboration funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which focused on solving protein structures. Adam Godzik, the senior author, told Retraction Watch that all papers had to be approved by a special committee before being submitted to a journal. Given the scale of the collaboration, the committee for the Joint Center for Structural Genomics (JCSG) would assess whether researchers who had made a previous contribution to the work should be added as authors.

Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics retracted both papers after Godzik informed the editor in August 2014 that neither article had undergone the required review before being submitted to the journal. Although Wiley agreed to the retractions in an email to Godzik in September 2014,  the papers were only pulled in January—more than three years later. Continue reading Author: “The retractions were about bureaucracy, not science”