Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘unreliable findings’ Category

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This article has been retracted by the publisher.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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“Crucial experiments” missing from retracted plant study

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A 2016 study was retracted from a Frontiers journal after editors realized the authors had omitted experiments that didn’t support the hypothesis. 

Gearóid Ó Faoleán, ethics and integrity manager at Frontiers, which publishes Frontiers in Plant Science, told us:

In accordance with our complaints protocol, the Field Chief Editor led the investigation that resulted in the decision to retract the paper.

Here’s the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

EMBO journals retract figures in two papers missing source data

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Journals published by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) have retracted a handful of figures in two papers with the same last and first authors.

After some figures in the 2005 and 2007 papers were flagged on PubPeer and the authors couldn’t provide the original data, the journals decided to retract parts of the papers, since other data supported the remaining conclusions, according to the Head of Scientific Publications at EMBO.

The partial retractions are labeled as corrigenda by the journals. Earlier this year, the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) announced it would be classifying partial retractions as errata, noting they had been used so rarely by journals.

Both lengthy corrigenda (also reported by Leonid Schneider) contain statements from the authors and the editors. The statements from the authors provide detailed explanations about the problems with the figures in question; here’s an excerpt from the editor’s statement in The EMBO Journal corrigendum: Read the rest of this entry »

Karolinska requests retraction of 2014 Macchiarini paper

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Paolo Macchiarini

It has been a tough couple of years for surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, once lauded for pioneering a groundbreaking procedure to transplant tracheas.

After a series of documentaries prompted his former employer, Karolinska Institutet (KI), to reopen a misconduct investigation against him, KI has today released one verdict regarding a 2014 Nature Communications paper: guilty.

KI said it is contacting the journal to request a retraction of the paper, which has already been flagged with an expression of concern.

Here’s more from a release from the institution: 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 »

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: 

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