Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘investigator error’ Category

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

Researchers retract paper after they run out of breast milk

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ejcn

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 »

Authors retract paper linking nuclear power to slow action on climate change

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climate-policyDo pro-nuclear energy countries act more slowly to curb the effects of climate change? That’s what a paper published in July in the journal Climate Policy claimed. But the hotly debated study was retracted last week after the authors came to understand that it included serious errors.

An August 22 press release about the original study has been retracted by the University of Sussex, and no longer appears on ScienceDaily. An archived version notes:   Read the rest of this entry »

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Leading diabetes researcher acted negligently, probe concludes

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Kathrin Maelder

Kathrin Maedler

Several duplications in the work of a prominent diabetes researcher were the result of negligence, but there is not enough evidence to support charges of misconduct, according to an investigation at her university in Germany.

Recently, we’ve reported on several notices for papers co-authored by Kathrin Maedler, a researcher at the University of Bremen. So far, Maedler has one retraction, multiple corrections, and two expressions of concern to her name, after several of her papers were questioned on PubPeer. Previously, the University of Zurich in Switzerland — where Maedler completed her PhD in 2002 — determined there was a lack of evidence to support allegations of misconduct in papers that were part of her doctoral thesis. 

Last week, the University of Bremen released its own investigation report (in German), which we translated using One Hour Translation. It concludes that Maedler Read the rest of this entry »

Author pulls Diabetes paper with duplicated Western blots

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diabetesA researcher has retracted a paper from Diabetes after re-using some Western blots in one of the figures from other papers.

According to the retraction notice, the first and corresponding author — Eric Berglund, formerly at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee — contacted the journal himself to report the error, for which he takes full responsibility.

Here’s the retraction notice: 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 »