Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘misused data’ Category

“Dramatic impact:” Authors misread breast cancer treatment database, retract paper

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A journal has retracted a 2016 study on the use of radiation by breast cancer patients after the authors misinterpreted what was reported in a national cancer database.

Correcting for the error, according to the retraction notice, had a “dramatic impact on the original article data and conclusions.”

Quyen Chu, a surgeon at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, told us that the problem appears to stem from a misunderstanding about the US National Cancer Database (NCDB). After the paper was published, the NCDB pointed out to Chu that a key data point had not been reliably or consistently collected during the timeframe relevant to the study. The database’s user’s manual says essentially the same thing; Chu said he and his authors read it, but misunderstood it.

The original Journal of the American College of Surgeons study looked at whether a 2004 National Comprehensive Cancer Network treatment guideline — which suggested some patients could avoid radiation on top of surgery and hormone therapy — led to an actual decrease in radiation therapy. But the error forced the authors to drop tens of thousands of patients treated before 2004, which had a severe impact on their ability to draw conclusions.

Chu told us:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

May 11th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Journal retracts surgery study with data “not intended for use in research”

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A journal has retracted a surgery study by researchers at Brown University after noticing it included data that was not intended for research purposes. (Incidentally, the data were collected by the publisher of the journal.)

Ingrid Philbert, managing editor of the Journal of Graduate Medical Education — which published the paper — told Retraction Watch that senior staff at the publisher alerted the journal that they suspected the authors had used data from a confidential source:

This is a fairly new set of case log data, and as the collector [of] the data, the [Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)] gets to determine the use and it has decreed that this data be used solely for accreditation decisions.

Philbert said the journal asked the authors where they got the data:

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Social networking site privacy breach complaint prompts retraction

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patients-like-meA journal has removed a paper after realizing it contained a verbatim quote from a patient that could reveal the patient’s identity.

The journal learned of the slip-up after receiving a complaint from a social networking site for patients called PatientsLikeMe, which enables people with similar conditions to connect with each other. The retracted paper — ironically about automatically sanitizing private information on social networking sites — included a brief quote from an HIV-positive user of the site, containing specific dates and infections the patient had experienced.

The corresponding author of the study in Expert Systems and Applications confirmed to us that the letter from PatientsLikeMe about two lines of text in the study triggered its removal.

The journal has republished an updated version of the paper without the problematic text. 

Here’s an excerpt from the complaint, sent by Paul Wicks, Principal Scientist and Vice President of Innovation at PatientsLikeMe, to the researchers and the journal in December 2015: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors didn’t generate key brain images, probe finds

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Frontiers in Human NeuroscienceA neuroscience journal has issued a retraction after discovering some of the paper’s integral images didn’t originate from the authors’ labs.

The retraction notice  — for a study about a condition once known as “water on the brain” — cites an investigation by the journal’s publisher, Frontiers, which determined that the figures were not “duly attributed.” The authors say they agree with the retraction.  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Revisiting hydrocephalus as a model to study brain resilience,” published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: Read the rest of this entry »

Journal flags paper over allegations it used competitors’ text, plasmids

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MGGA journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a paper on a common crop virus after the authors were accused of using competitors’ unpublished text and plasmids.

Investigations by the journal and the involved institutions — the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, where the paper’s authors are based, and North Carolina State University (presumably, where the accusing group is from) — were inconclusive, the notice states.

So the editor flagged “Sequences enhancing cassava mosaic disease symptoms occur in the cassava genome and are associated with South African cassava mosaic virus infection” with an EOC:

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JAMA takes all calls for retraction seriously — even from PETA

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JAMAA leading medical journal is taking a second look at a recent high-profile paper about elephants’ lower risk of cancer, after receiving a call for retraction from a somewhat unusual corner: the animal rights group PETA.

This isn’t the first time the activist group has called for a retraction — last year, it nudged a journal to pull a paper that had been flagged for fraud by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity. Their latest target: A 2015 paper in JAMA, which PETA claims contains inaccurate information.

What’s more, the organization argues, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus — which partly funded the research — is using the findings as “justification for the continued use of abusive training techniques with elephants.” Yesterday, PETA sent a letter to the journal asking it to either retract the paper or issue an expression of concern, claiming: Read the rest of this entry »

Neuro journal pulls article for data theft, prompts misconduct probe

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Neuroscientists have retracted a research letter less than two months after it appeared, admitting they appeared to pass off others’ data as their own.

Two of the researchers are listed as affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the incident has led to a misconduct investigation at the institution, a UCSF spokesperson told us.

The article, “DNAJC6 variants in Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,” appeared in April. It was quickly followed by this notice, dated in May: Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer researchers: We took data from another lab

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Authors have admitted to using material from another lab for their paper on neuroblastoma.

A spokesperson for Springer told us that the theft came to light when:

The scientists, from whom the data originated, contacted the journal.

The editor in chief of the journal investigated the case, the spokesperson told us, and then issued this retraction notice:

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We’re using a common statistical test all wrong. Statisticians want to fix that.

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ASA-newlogoAfter reading too many papers that either are not reproducible or contain statistical errors (or both), the American Statistical Association (ASA) has been roused to action. Today the group released six principles for the use and interpretation of p values. P-values are used to search for differences between groups or treatments, to evaluate relationships between variables of interest, and for many other purposes.  But the ASA says they are widely misused. Here are the six principles from the ASA statement:  Read the rest of this entry »

Authors used wrong dataset in study on shock therapy, exercise in depression

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J psych resA psychiatric journal has pulled a 2014 paper that found electroconvulsive therapy and exercise helped people with depression, after the authors determined they had mistakenly analyzed the wrong data.

According to the retraction notice from the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the researchers had “erroneously analyzed” data from a previous study they had published the year before.

Here’s more from the note for “Electroconvulsive therapy and aerobic exercise training increased BDNF and ameliorated depressive symptoms in patients suffering from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder:” Read the rest of this entry »