Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘unreliable findings’ Category

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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Lizards aren’t getting hotter faster than the planet after all, says retraction

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EcographyA paper that raised alarms by suggesting lizards were warming even faster than the planet has been retracted after the authors employed the wrong method to measure temperatures.

Some scientists thought that, because of the way lizards retain heat to regulate their cold-blooded bodies, they might be more sensitive to temperature changes. Well, not in this case. The paper has been retracted from Ecography because the scientists erred in calculating the “radiative conductance of the animal” — basically, how much heat it can get rid of — such that the “broad-scale” conclusions of the study are invalid.

The notice for the aptly named paper “Lizards could be warming faster than climate” reads: Read the rest of this entry »

Anti-fish oil researcher netted two more retractions

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Brian Peskin

Earlier this year, Food and Nutrition Sciences retracted two papers from an author who criticized highly popular fish oil supplements after an additional round of peer review concluded his papers present a “biased interpretation,” among other issues.

Last year, Brian Peskin lost a paper for an “undeclared competing interest” — namely, that he held patents and directed a company associated with essential fatty acids.

In place of fish oil, Peskin touts plant-based supplements for treating cardiovascular disease. From the abstract of the freshly-retracted “Why Fish Oil Fails to Prevent or Improve CVD: A 21st Century Analysis,” he claims that Parent Essential Oils (PEOs) — such as alpha-linolenic acid, which can be converted into the EPA and DHA found in fish oil — “fulfill fish oil’s failed promise”: Read the rest of this entry »

Retraction no. 8 (and a 1/2) hits former Duke researcher Erin Potts-Kant

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American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular PhysiologyAnother retraction and a correction that retracts two figures — ie, a partial retraction — have been posted for Duke University lung researchers, Erin Potts-Kant and Michael Foster.

These latest notices move the count up to 8.5 retractions for Potts-Kant and 7.5 for Foster (counting the partial retraction as 1/2), along with the correction for both. In both cases and in a familiar note from previous retractions, authors found “potential discrepancies” between two sets of data (partial retraction) and study figures that weren’t “reliable” (retraction).

The retraction comes after the authors discovered problems with three of the study figures. In the corrected paper, the authors were able to validate some of their findings after repeating the experiments, but retracted two of the study figures that they were “unable to verify.”

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Former accounting prof adds his 32nd retraction

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James Hunton

Another retraction makes 32.5 for former accounting professor James E. Hunton, and earns him the #10 slot on our leaderboard.

Though he resigned from his position at Bentley University in 2012, the story didn’t end there: In 2014, a university investigation found he’d committed misconduct in two papers. The, in June 2015, he notched 25 retractions all at once.

The newly retracted paper, “Effects of Anonymous Whistle- Blowing and Perceived Reputation Threats on Investigations of Whistle-Blowing Allegations by Audit Committee Members,” published in the Journal of Management Studies, suggests that, for public corporations, an anonymous whistleblower might not be as effective as an alert from a known source. The publisher Wiley put out a press release for the paper in 2010, and it succeeded in garnering some coverage.

Whether its conclusion remains valid is unclear, as Hunton didn’t provide evidence to support the validity of the data. The note explains:

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First author refuses to sign PNAS retraction after “key findings” are not reproduced

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Two out of the three authors of a PNAS paper on mutations underlying lung diseases are pulling it after failing to reproduce key findings.

The paper, published in 2012, investigated how mutations in lung surfactant genes induce molecular changes that lead to lung pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer might work. But follow-up work revealed problems. In the retraction note, last author Christine Kim Garcia and second author Christoper Cano, both at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, write:

Current members of the C.K.G. laboratory are unable to reproduce key findings reported in the paper.

Here’s the retraction note in full:

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Analysis of pilots with prostate cancer retracted for “inappropriate data”

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Aerospace Medicine and Human PerformanceIn case any pilots out there are worrying about their risk of prostate cancer based on a recent meta-analysis that found they are at least twice as likely to develop the disease, they should relax — the paper has been retracted.

The reason: “including inappropriate data from two studies that should be ineligible.”

“The risk of prostate cancer in pilots: a meta-analysis” reviewed eight studies to determine whether airline pilots, who are regularly exposed to radiation and other occupational hazards, have a higher incidence of prostate cancer. However, it also included studies that reported on prostate cancer among all U.S. Armed Forces servicemen, not pilots.

The retraction notice was posted in May — only months after it was published in Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance in February. The notice included a letter to the editor outlining flaws in the meta-analysis and an apologetic response from first author, David Raslau at the Mayo Clinic.

Here’s the notice (appearing at the bottom of page 2):

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Drugmaker accused of omitting side effect data from 2003 Risperdal paper

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cover7607A 2003 paper may have left out potentially “significant” data on the long-term side-effects of an antipsychotic drug used in children, according to a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

As reported by the Toronto StarDavid Kessler is alleging that Janssen, the maker of Risperdal (and owned by Johnson & Johnson), omitted data about the risks of the drug: In particular, that boys who use it over a long period may be at risk of growing breasts.

There’s anecdotal evidence of the side effect. One family claimed the drug had caused their son to grow a pair of 46 DD-sized breasts in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, reported the Wall Street Journal in February. They won, to the tune of $2.5 million. The suit is apparently just one of 1,200 like it.

The abstract of the paper, “Prolactin levels during long-term risperidone treatment in children and adolescents,” published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, suggests that levels of a key hormone aren’t a problem in the long term:

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Fruit fly paper retracted when gene turns out not to code for a protein as claimed

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1.cover-sourceThe Journal of Insect Science is retracting a paper on the genetics of a fruit fly after discovering one of the genes the authors sequenced doesn’t appear to code for a protein.

The paper, “Molecular phylogeny and identification of the peach fruit fly, Bactrocera zonata, established in Egypt” was published in 2011, and compared sequences of the Egyptian species to those from species in other regions. It has not yet been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Phyllis Weintraub, the editor-in-chief of the journal, told us she thinks that the paper’s fatal mistake stemmed from “bad science instead of deliberate falsification.”

The retraction notice should go live on the site today, according to Lisa Junker, director of publications and communications for the Entomological Society of America, which publishes the journal. Here’s the text:

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