Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘unreliable findings’ Category

Osteoporosis paper felled by concerns with “scientific integrity”

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A paper suggesting that exposure to sunlight might help prevent hip fractures in the elderly has been retracted, due to duplication and “concerns about the underlying data.”

An expression of concern that appeared last July flagged the 2005 paper as containing text that matched another paper with the same first author that was published in 2011. According to the publisher, that duplicated text sparked a closer look at the text, which raised concerns about the scientific integrity of the paper.

The retraction note, published by the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, says that the first author was responsible for the content of the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Investigation finds data issues polluted air quality paper

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1-s2.0-S0013935113X0009X-cov150hAn investigation at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia has found that a paper on air pollution and human health contains a host of issues with the data and its analysis. The paper has been retracted with a very detailed note from Environmental Research.

The issues with the paper include an “incorrect analysis of the data,” and its failure to properly cite multiple papers and one researcher’s contributions. Ultimately, according to the retraction note, the investigation found that the “conclusions of the paper are flawed.”

“Submicrometer particles and their effects on the association between air temperature and mortality in Brisbane, Australia” has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retraction note is very, very detailed. It outlines the problems with the paper:

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Honest errors take down math paper

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1-s2.0-S0022247X15X00217-cov150hAn incorrect proof has felled a math paper. There’s not too much to say in a straightforward situation like this one, which we’ve seen before — the result of honest errors, not any malfeasance.

Here’s the abstract for “Spectral mapping theorem for generalized Kato spectrum:”

In this paper, we give an affirmative answer to Mbekhta’s conjecture (Mbekhta, 1990) about the pseudo Fredholm operators in Hilbert space. As a consequence, we characterize pseudo Fredholm operators and we prove that the generalized Kato spectrum satisfies the spectral mapping theorem in the Hilbert spaces setting.

The paper — published in the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications — has been cited twice, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the retraction note:

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Written by Shannon Palus

November 26th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Mol bio paper pulled by PLOS following investigation into figures

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Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 11.58.47 AMPLOS Biology has retracted a paper about the molecular details of β-catenin expression following an investigation by the first author’s institution in Italy.

The investigation, by the Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro, found that there were multiple “figure anomalies.” According to the note:

An explanation of inadvertent error was given for some of the issues identified, while for two issues, a satisfactory explanation could not be provided.

First author Roberto Gherzi says none of his co-authors helped prepare the figures. The authors maintain that the conclusions are unaffected, but that assurance wasn’t enough for the journal. Here’s more from the lengthy retraction note, which provides some backstory on the “serious concerns” regarding the data:

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Study claiming dramatically higher rates of male military sexual trauma is retracted

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psychological servicesA study that found a 15-fold increase in the rate of sexual trauma among men in the U.S. military — and sparked suggestions of “an epidemic of male-on-male sex crimes” in the military among conservative media outlets — has been retracted because of a flaw in the analysis.

The study, published just last week, appeared in Psychological Services, an American Psychological Association (APA) journal. In an announcement Sunday titled “American Psychological Association Retracts Article Positing Excessively High Rates of Sexual Trauma Among Military Men,” the APA said that “Scholars raised valid concerns regarding the design and statistical analysis which compromise the findings.” Here’s the text: Read the rest of this entry »

Sex addiction article retracted, republished

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Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 2.01.12 PMAn open-access journal with a speedy peer review process has been having some issues with a retracted article on the biology of sex addiction.

Here’s the simple timeline of events: “Hypersexuality Addiction and Withdrawal: Phenomenology, Neurogenetics and Epigenetics,” a review article, was published by Cureus in July, following a two-day peer review. In the weeks that followed, the paper received a number of criticisms. So the journal quietly corrected it, then issued a formal correction, then retracted the paper — and now, finally, has republished it. The editor of the journal, Stanford professor emeritus John Adler, admitted the “decision was dumb” to initially fix the article without an alert, but it was ultimately doomed by “political” issues — namely, a larger debate over whether or not “sex addiction” exists at all.

We’ll start with the retraction. According to the note, it stems from the mistaken characterization of how sex addition — “hypersexuality” — is described in the current “bible” of psychiatry:

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Written by Shannon Palus

November 2nd, 2015 at 11:30 am

Much of preclinical research into one cancer drug is flawed, says report

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elife-identity-headerA review of preclinical research of a now widely used cancer drug suggests the studies contain multiple methodology flaws and overestimate the benefits of the drug.

Specifically, the researchers found that most studies didn’t randomize treatments, didn’t blind investigators to which animals were receiving the drug, and tested tumors in only one animal model, which limits the applicability of the results. Importantly, they also found evidence that publication bias — keeping studies that found no evidence of benefit from the drug, sunitinib, out of the literature — may have caused a significant overestimation of its effects on various tumor types.

Together, these findings suggest the need for a set of standards that cancer researchers follow, the journal notes in a “digest” of the paper, published Tuesday by eLife:
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Written by Alison McCook

October 13th, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Nature: No plans to change wording of STAP retractions

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cover_nature (2)Despite acknowledging in its own pages that two recent high-profile retraction notices turned out to not tell the whole story, Nature will not be updating the original retraction notices, the journal tells us.

We checked in with Nature after it published two Brief Communications Arising regarding two high-profile retractions of papers describing a new method of reprogramming cells to a pluripotent state. (This method is also known as stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, or STAP.)

We were particularly intrigued by the journal’s plans for the retractions, published in 2014, when an editorial in the September 23 issue about the new BCAs (here and here) suggested the wording of the notices might be problematic: Read the rest of this entry »

Authors pull Science paper on molecular wires for “inappropriate data handling”

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pic.mag.current-issueThis week’s issue of Science includes a retraction of a highly cited paper about manipulating the current in a string of molecules with a magnet, after an investigation by the co-authors revealed “inappropriate data handling” by the first author.

According to the note, the co-authors’ suspicions arose when they tried to follow-up on the data. Following a “thorough investigation,” they concluded that first author Rabindra N. Mahato had handled the data in such a way that they could no longer trust the conclusions. In the end, Mahato agreed to the retraction.

Here’s more from the note: Read the rest of this entry »

Duke researcher with 7 retractions earns two Expressions of Concern

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American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care MedicineData issues continue to plague pulmonary papers co-authored by Duke University professor William Foster and former Duke researcher Erin Potts-Kant. Yesterday, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine posted an Expression of Concern for two articles from the pair while the findings are “under review.”

The notice was published after the paper’s corresponding author, John Hollingsworth (also at Duke), told the journal that “some of the data published in these articles may be unreliable,” a term that we’ve gotten used to seeing from previous retractions.

Another Expression of Concern from the journal published earlier this year for another paper co-authored by Foster and Potts-Kant turned into a retraction months later. Hollingsworth was a co-author on that paper and another paper retracted from Environmental Health Perspectives in July.

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