Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘investigator error’ Category

Columbia University probe prompts retraction of cardiovascular paper

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A journal has retracted a 2011 study at the request of Columbia University.

According to Jeanine D’Armiento, the study’s last author, the newly retracted paper in Clinical Science contained a figure from a Journal of Hypertension paper published by the same authors earlier that year. 

First and corresponding author Joseph George told Retraction Watch the error was unintentional. A Columbia spokesperson sent us this statement: Read the rest of this entry »

High-profile book on North Korea earns 52 corrections

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The author of a high-profile book about the history of North Korea is issuing 52 corrections to the next edition, scheduled to appear this spring. The changes follow heavy criticism of the book, alleging it contained material not supported by the list of references.

Last month, author Charles Armstrong, a professor at Columbia University, announced on his website that he was issuing the changes after reviewing the book in detail, especially the footnotes. He writes:

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Written by Alison McCook

January 31st, 2017 at 9:30 am

Nuclear fuel container material isn’t as novel as it appeared in now-retracted paper

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A layer of copper sprayed onto steel. (Figure 6 from “Structure and Mechanical Properties of Thick Copper Coating Made by Cold Spray“)

A paper describing the construction of a material that could be used in nuclear fuel containers has been retracted after the authors left out key details.

According to the editor, the omission made the authors’ method seem more novel than it was.

The material is described in “Structure and Mechanical Properties of Thick Copper Coating Made by Cold Spray.” It was published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Thermal Spray Technology.

According to the retraction notice, the authors did not specify in the paper how the first layer of copper was sprayed onto the steel:

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Dangerous chemo mistake retracted by journal after two years

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An oncology journal has retracted a 2014 paper that contained a potentially fatal mistake.

Specifically, the paper suggested that a chemotherapy drug be injected intrathecally — i.e., in the spine. But according to the retraction notice, the medical literature has unequivocally shown that that form of treatment is “uniformly fatal.”

The retraction comes approximately 18 months after the journal published a letter to the editor alerting readers to the risky wording in the 2014 paper.

Here’s the notice, issued by Hematological Oncology:

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“We made big mistakes:” Gastric paper pulled with unusual notice

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Sometimes we come across a real head-scratcher.

That happened this week, when we saw a retraction notice for a 2015 paper on gastric cancer in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, which only says the authors “made big mistakes” and contains two fairly significant typos.

Although there’s no sign of a retraction on PubMed, the table of contents for the latest issue of the journal lists the retraction — but includes no hyperlink to the notice. The only way to see it is via a Web cached version. Here’s the text:

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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:

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Bone researcher with lifetime funding ban earns third retraction

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via WCH

A researcher who received a lifetime funding ban for misconduct from a Canadian agency has logged her third retraction, after a re-analysis of her work unveiled “serious inconsistencies.”

In July, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) released a report about Sophie Jamal, following an investigation by her former employer, The Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada. The probe concluded that Jamal had manipulated data, which resulted in her being banned from CIHR funding for life, and the retraction of a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

After that retraction, researchers that made up the the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study Group (CaMos) decided to take a second look at Jamal’s work. In August, we reported on a retraction that came out of that examination, in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases (AJKD). At the time, a senior researcher from the group told us the group had also requested another journal retract a CaMos paper. 

Now, that other retraction has appeared. Here’s the retraction notice Osteoporosis International issued earlier this month: Read the rest of this entry »

Oops: Supposedly untreated cancer patients had surgery, after all

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gmrThe first author of a 2016 paper has retracted it after realizing that all the lung cancer patients that were supposed to have been untreated did, in fact, have surgery to remove their tumors. 

Zhao Kai, the study’s first author from the Qilu Hospital of Shandong University and Zibo Central Hospital (both in China), took full responsibility for the error.

Here’s the retraction notice, published last month in Genetics and Molecular Research: 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