Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘unreliable findings’ Category

Journal retracts “hopelessly flawed” paper linking cell phone radiation to pain

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Mario Romero-Ortega. Credit: UT-Dallas

A journal is retracting a paper linking radio waves from cell phone towers to pain in amputees, despite objections from the authors.

Anthropogenic Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Elicit Neuropathic Pain in an Amputation Model,” originally published Jan. 16, 2016 in PLOS ONE, suggested that rats with injured nerves experienced pain when exposed to the type of electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phone network towers. A press release issued by the University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas) — where the corresponding author Mario Romero-Ortega and two co-first authors are based — said that this phenomenon has been reported anecdotally by people missing limbs.

But the study, especially its methodology, met with immediate criticism in the article’s comment section. PLOS ONE noted in March 2016 that the authors had contacted the journal regarding an error in some of the exposure levels reported in the study, which journal staff were “looking into.” In December 2016, the journal told the authors it was going to retract the paper. Now, more than one year later, it finally has.

Ken Foster, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who commented in February 2016 that the paper was “hopelessly flawed,” told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: “Ironically,” same error in same journal “was noted last year”

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Sleep quality and body composition variations in obese male adults after 14 weeks of yoga intervention: A randomized controlled trial

What Caught Our Attention: Last year, researchers led by David Allison at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health called for the retraction of an article linking weight loss and obese female yoga participants in the International Journal of Yoga, citing problems with randomization and baseline statistics. Despite the first author’s statement that he planned to retract the article, the journal refused to retract it.   Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: To know if someone’s been vaccinated, just asking isn’t enough

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Hepatitis B Virus Infection in Preconception Period Among Women of Reproductive Age in Rural China – A Nationwide Study

What Caught Our Attention: When researchers set out to study hepatitis B among women in rural China, and they wanted to know if the women had been vaccinated against the virus, they simply asked them. While that can sometimes be useful, apparently it was a mistake in this case, as the reliance on patient memory injected too much doubt into these findings.  Read the rest of this entry »

After losing two video game-violence papers, co-author’s weapons paper is flagged

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Can seeing a weapon increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors?

A meta-analysis on the so-called “weapons effect” has been flagged with an expression of concern by a SAGE journal, after the researchers discovered errors affecting at least one of the main conclusions.

The paper found that the presence of weapons increased people’s aggressiveness, but not feelings of anger. However, the corresponding author, Arlin James Benjamin, who works at University of Arkansas–Fort Smith, told us:

we would urge considerably more caution in interpreting the impact of weapons on behavioral outcomes based on those initial re-analyses.

Last author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University (OSU), was the corresponding author on two now-retracted papers linking video games and violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Reader complaints prompt retraction of meta-analysis of heart-failure drug

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A cardiology journal has retracted a 2016 meta-analysis after the editors had an, ahem, change of heart about the rigor of the study.

The article, “Ivabradine as adjuvant treatment for chronic heart failure,” was published in the International Journal of Cardiology, an Elsevier title.

The authors, a group at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, concluded that: Read the rest of this entry »

Publisher retracts “conceptual penis” hoax article

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File this under “not a surprise.” After the authors of a paper entitled “The conceptual penis as a social construct” confessed it was a hoax immediately after publication, the publisher has retracted it.

The notice is sparse:

This article has been retracted by the publisher. For more information please see the statement on this article.

In that statement, which we covered last week, the publisher said published the paper after choosing reviewers whose “expertise did not fully align with this subject matter.”

We asked co-author James Lindsay what he thought about that explanation:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 2nd, 2017 at 11:14 am

Reuters removes story on gender confirmation surgery because firm mistakenly released data

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Reuters has removed a story about gender confirmation surgery, saying it included problematic data.

The public relations firm representing the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) — which generated the data in the report  — took responsibility, saying it supplied Reuters with data the ASPS did not want released.

Yesterday, Reuters pulled its version of a widely-reported story about an increase in such surgeries in the U.S. (Later, it pulled the withdrawal notice as well, only to make it reappear at a different URL.)

The story, originally posted just after midnight yesterday, reported a 19 percent increase in those procedures from 2015 to 2016, based on data provided the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Around 1 pm US Eastern time that day, Reuters put up a withdrawal notice in place of the original story:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

May 23rd, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Editors retract paper about anesthesia procedure after investigation uncovers data issues

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The editors of an anesthesiology journal have retracted a paper about predicting how patients will respond to a procedure, after the results of an investigation cast doubt on the validity and originality of the work.

According to the retraction notice, the editors became concerned about the validity of the data and conducted an investigation, which found irregularities, “including misrepresentation of results.” Because the authors could not provide adequate evidence to assuage these concerns, the editors decided to retract the paper.

The paper — about which facial muscles best predict if a patient is ready to be intubated — had already been flagged on F1000: A few years ago, two anesthesiologists from Florida commented that they found the article “confusing,” and felt that the authors “did not prove their hypothesis.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Comparison of four facial muscles, orbicularis oculi, corrugator supercilii, masseter or mylohyoid, as best predictor of good conditions for intubation: A randomised blinded trial,” published in the European Journal of Anaesthesiology in 2013 and cited once: Read the rest of this entry »

Journal retracts paper by state senator (and former mathematician)

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Daniel Biss

Here’s something you don’t see every day: A state senator with an academic publication record, in his former career as a mathematician. Even more unusual: A retraction of one of his 15-year-old papers, after the journal realized most of the results were incorrect.

According to the notice, some aspects of the paper by Daniel Biss — now a democratic Illinois State Senator — are also “ambiguous.”

We spoke with Senator Biss, who told us he had been contacted by an editor who told him someone had raised questions about the paper, but he didn’t have much input in the notice:

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Written by Alison McCook

February 13th, 2017 at 9:35 am

Cancer researcher logs 6 retractions, bringing total to 10

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Anil Jaiswal

A journal has retracted six papers by a cancer researcher at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, bringing his total to 10.

The retractions cite an investigation by the university, and detail problems ranging from duplicated images, to tweaking an image to conceal particular bands, to including unreliable data.

Three of the papers had already been flagged by the journal with expressions of concern. The last author on all the papers is Anil Jaiswal, a professor in the pharmacology department. He has issued four previous retractions.

Bruce Jarrell, the Chief Academic and Research Officer and Senior Vice President at the University of Maryland, told us at least two more retractions are forthcoming:

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