Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘clinical study retractions’ Category

Lancet retracts and replaces news story about controversial abortion drug

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The Lancet has retracted a journalist-written piece about a controversial drug used off-label to induce abortions, and replaced it with a corrected version.

In the retraction notice, the journal said it “removed the information that we believe to be inaccurate.”

The article, first published Oct. 28, 2017, highlights Pfizer’s decision to withdraw the drug, misoprostol, from the French market in 2018, and explores the ongoing debate surrounding its uses and safety. Approved to treat ulcers, misoprostol is more often used off-label to induce labor or medical abortions, despite reports of serious side effects, including hemorrhaging and birth defects “sometimes associated with fetal death.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

November 21st, 2017 at 11:30 am

Publisher issues first retractions for fake peer review, starts new checking policy

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The publisher Frontiers has retracted four papers in three of its journals after discovering they had been accepted with fake peer reviews.

The problem of fake reviews has been on the research community’s radar since at least 2014, and several major publishers—including Springer, SAGE and BioMed Central—have retracted hundreds of papers accepted via fake peer reviews. But Gearóid Ó Faoleán, the ethics and integrity manager at Frontiers, told us this is the first time Frontiers had had to issue retractions for this reason.

The papers, published between 2015 and 2017, are from researchers based at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)–National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) in Thiruvananthapuram, India. S. Nishanth Kumar is the only author in common to all four paper and a corresponding on two of them; Dileep Kumar, a scientist at CSIR, is a corresponding author on three of the papers.

Ó Faoleán told us: 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 »

WHO asks dozens of journals to correct papers on diagnostic tool developed by former collaborators

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In one of the largest such requests we’ve ever heard of, the World Health Organization has asked 46 journals to correct articles that refer to a bone fracture risk diagnostic tool as developed or endorsed by the WHO.

By WHO’s count, the tool — known as Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX), which has come under scrutiny as experts have questioned its effectiveness — has been linked to the WHO in over 500 scientific articles. The organization wants to change that. The health agency says it has no ties to the tool and claims its developers have spread “misinformation” asserting a link to the WHO. But the tool’s lead developer disputes this, claiming the agency collaborated on the tool from its inception.

Last December, in an editorial published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization titled “Clarifying WHO’s position on the FRAX tool for fracture prediction,” the organization disavowed a connection to the tool:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mark Zastrow

November 16th, 2017 at 11:10 am

Posted in Geriatric medicine

Journal replaces anti-vaccine paper it retracted for missing conflicts, “number of errors”

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A journal retracted a paper about how conflicts of interest might be influencing research into the link between vaccines and autism because — wait for it — the authors failed to disclose conflicts of interest.

According to the retraction notice, the editors retracted the paper without the authors’ agreement, because the authors had a host of personal and professional interests in the field they didn’t declare, such as being associated with organizations involved in autism and vaccine safety. What’s more, the article also contained “a number of errors, and mistakes of various types that raise concerns about the validity of the conclusion.”

But now, Science and Engineering Ethics has published a new version of the article that draws similar conclusions to the retracted one, albeit with an updated conflict of interest statement, among other changes. From the abstract of the revised version: Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: Dear peer reviewer, please read the methods section. Sincerely, everyone

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Via Wikimedia

TitlePlasma contributes to the antimicrobial activity of whole blood against Mycobacterium tuberculosis

What Caught Our Attention: A big peer review (and perhaps academic mentorship) fail.  These researchers used the wrong anticoagulant for their blood samples, leading them to believe that certain blood components were fighting microbes. The authors counted the number of colonies to show how well or poorly Tuberculin mycobacteria were growing in cultures — but blood samples need anticoagulants to prevent clots before analysis, and they used an anticoagulant that actually prevented the microbes from colonizing. The authors (and reviewers) should have known this from  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

November 13th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: 4th retraction for prominent physicist (with new funding) cites falsification

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Improved Cellular Specificity of Plasmonic Nanobubbles versus Nanoparticles in Heterogeneous Cell Systems

What Caught Our Attention: Nanotechnology researcher Dmitri Lapotko, whose work with lasers continues to catch media attention, has earned his fourth retraction.  As with the other three, the latest notice mentions an investigation at Rice University, but provides no specific information other than “data falsification” for images, and no indication as to the offending researcher(s). (In the past, Rice hasn’t even confirmed to us the presence of an investigation.) Only Laptoko and Ekaterina Lukianova-Hleb are common authors to all retractions. Despite these recent setbacks, Lapotko has not fared too badly in research funding.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

November 6th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Ethics, data concerns prompt another retraction for convicted researchers

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Unravelling the influence of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) on cognitive-linguistic processing: A comparative group analysis

What Caught our Attention: RW readers might already be familiar with Caroline Barwood and Bruce Murdoch, two researchers from Australia who had the rare distinction of being criminally charged for research misconduct. Both Barwood and Murdoch received suspended sentences after being found guilty of multiple counts of fraud. In September 2014, University of Queensland announced that: Read the rest of this entry »

A paper about eye damage in astronauts got pulled for “security concerns.” Huh?

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Here’s a head-scratcher: A 2017 paper examining why long space flights can cause eye damage has been taken down, with a brief note saying NASA, which sponsored the research, asked for the retraction because of “security concerns.”

According to the first author, the paper included information that could identify some of the astronauts that took part in the study — namely, their flight information. Although the author said he removed the identifying information after the paper was online, NASA still opted to retract it. But a spokesperson at NASA told us the agency did not supply the language for the retraction notice. The journal editor confirmed the paper was retracted for “research subject confidentiality issues,” but referred a question about who supplied the language of the notice back to NASA.

Now lawyers are involved.

So we still have some questions about this one. Here’s what we do know.

Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: 4th retraction for peer reviewer who stole manuscript

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diet and gut microbiota

What Caught Our Attention: The paper was co-authored by Carmine Finelli, who in the past took responsibility for a dramatic transgression: Stealing material from an unpublished manuscript by one of its reviewers. After the paper that stole from the manuscript was retracted in 2016, Finelli earned a second retraction earlier this year — again, for plagiarism. (He’s also lost another paper from Oncotarget, which was removed without any information.) Now, a fourth retraction has popped up, for using material “published previously.”  Unsure of the source of this material, we Googled some of the phrases from the retracted article.  While we cannot say for sure,  we offer these comparisons for you — the reader — to consider: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

November 1st, 2017 at 11:05 am