Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘clinical study retractions’ Category

Another retraction hits high-profile food researcher under fire

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Brian Wansink

It’s been a rough year for Brian Wansink.

Last year, the prominent food researcher posted a blog praising a student for her productivity in his lab. But when Wansink described his methods, readers became concerned that the lab was using improper research techniques to generate more publications. Earlier this year, researchers posted an analysis of four papers by Wansink about pizza consumption to PeerJ, saying they discovered more than 150 inconsistencies in the data. Now, one of those four papers has been retracted.

On Friday, BMC Nutrition posted a brief notice about the 2015 paper, which examined whether people who pay different amounts for all-you-can-eat Italian buffets feel more or less guilty about how much they ate. The notice says the retraction stems from concerns about the data analysis, and the authors do not agree with the journal’s decision.

The new retraction is the second for Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell.

Here’s the complete retraction notice:

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Written by Alison McCook

September 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Two more retractions for former US prof who altered dozens of images

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Two journals have retracted papers by a biologist who was recently found guilty of misconduct by his former employer, the University of Colorado Denver, bringing the total to five.

The investigation report by UC Denver, which we obtained earlier this year via a public records request, had recommended one of the two newest retractions, which appears in the journal Hepatology. The other retraction, in the Journal of Immunology, was not flagged by the report — which found, among other conclusions, that Almut Grenz had altered multiple values in research that had already been submitted for peer review.

Here’s the notice for the Journal of Immunology paper:

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Publisher flags paper on same-sex parenting after neo-Nazi group cites it

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A publisher has issued an expression of concern (EoC) about a study that claimed children with same-sex parents were at greater risk of depression and abuse, after posters using statistics from the paper to support a homophobic message appeared in Australia and the US.

On Aug. 21, several news websites reported that these posters were appearing in Melbourne, Australia, citing claims from a 2016 paper published in Depression Research and Treatment, which said that children with same-sex parents are more at risk for depression, abuse, and obesity than children with opposite-sex parents. The poster had also appeared previously in Minneapolis and has been traced to a neo-Nazi group, as reported by HuffPost Australia. Australia is preparing for a national, non-binding, mail-in vote on whether to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

The EoC mechanism, which was chosen by the journal’s publisher, Hindawi, is an unusual choice here. The paper’s author, D. Paul Sullins, a sociology professor at The Catholic University of America and the paper’s author, told Retraction Watch that Hindawi contacted him Aug. 21 about the decision. Initially, he told us he didn’t have any “particular objection to it,” but later told us he changed his mind after he read more about COPE’s guidelines for EoCs: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

August 25th, 2017 at 11:53 am

Updated: Ohio State revokes PhD of co-author of now-retracted paper on shooter video games

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Jodi Whitaker, via University of Arizona

[This post, which at 1200 UTC 8/25/17 originally reported on the then-upcoming vote, has been updated at 1800 UTC 8/25/17 to include the results of the vote.]

A researcher who co-authored a paper about video games that was retracted earlier this year has had her PhD from The Ohio State University revoked.

As WOSU reported this afternoon, the vote today of the university’s Board of Trustees was unanimous. The scheduled vote on whether to revoke Jodi Whitaker’s degree was first reported yesterday by The Columbus Dispatch.

While a graduate student at Ohio State, Whitaker was co-author of a paper that claimed to find that first-person shooter video games improved marksmanship. As we’ve reported, the paper, published online in 2012, was retracted earlier this year, two years after a university committee was alerted to irregularities in the data by two outside researchers.

The controversy over the paper became heated at times. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 25th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Given “wrong pathology slides,” heart journal retracts paper

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A cardiology journal has retracted a paper after the authors were unable to provide correct pathology slides to replace the wrong ones submitted with the original manuscript.

The paper is titled “Aortic Valve Endocarditis and Coronary Angiography With Cerebral Embolic Protection,” published on April 10, 2017 in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions (JACC:CI). It has not yet been cited, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

JACC:CI retracted the paper on Aug. 14, providing this notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Hey, that’s my case study: Another retraction after doctors claim rights to case write-up

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A group of researchers have retracted their 2016 case report about a rare dermatologic disorder in the wake of disputes about authorship and institutional approval.

The paper describes a young boy with Job’s Syndrome, in which patients experience painful, itchy and frequently disfiguring skin lesions, along with a constellation of other possible symptoms. The condition is extremely rare, occurring in less than one in 1 million births.

This isn’t the first time a journal has retracted a case study after another group of authors claimed ownership of the case. Earlier this year, we covered a retraction from a neuro-ophthalmology journal after the doctors who treated a patient suffering from a gruesome eye trauma took issue with the fact that radiologists had already published their diagnostic images as a case study.

According to the notice for this latest retraction:

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Written by Alison McCook

August 22nd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Released FDA docs reveal details of agency’s (failed) attempt to retract paper

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Earlier this year, a raging controversy regarding a new drug spilled into the pages of a leading medical journal: the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and another official publicly called for the retraction or correction of a peer-reviewed article about the drug. They didn’t get their wish. Now, documents released by the FDA via a lawsuit shed light on the attempt — and show how tricky it can be to correct the official record.

The controversy surrounds the approval of eteplirsen, a drug approved last September to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare but invariably fatal disease that strikes (mostly) young boys. Eteplirsen was approved over the objections of the FDA team that reviewed the drug, which determined that there was insufficient evidence to approve the drug.

But the controversy didn’t end within the walls of the FDA complex. Ellis Unger, who led the review team, believed that one of the principal studies of the drug, published in the Annals of Neurology, was “misleading” because it was based on “unreliable data.” So in early November, Unger, joined by the then-head of the FDA, Robert Califf, took the extremely rare move of writing to the editor of the journal to “urge that the paper be corrected or retracted….”

According to the documents, the authors of the Annals article did, in fact, agree to correct the article.

On November 9, 2016, Clifford Saper, Annals‘ editor in chief, wrote to Califf and Unger:

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Written by Charles Seife

August 21st, 2017 at 8:20 am

Journal knew about problems in a high-profile study before it came out — and did nothing for over a month

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In June, Gene Emery, a journalist for Reuters Health, was assigned to write a story about an upcoming paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, set to come off embargo and be released to the public in a few days. Pretty quickly, he noticed something seemed off.

Emery saw that the data presented in the tables of the paper — about awareness of the problem of heart disease among women and their doctors — didn’t seem to match the authors’ conclusions. For instance, on a scale of 1 to 5 rating preparedness to assess female patients’ risk (with 5 being the most prepared), 64% of doctors answered 4 or 5; but the paper said “only a minority” of doctors felt well-prepared (findings echoed in an accompanying press release). On Monday June 19, four days before the paper was set to publish, Emery told the corresponding author — C. Noel Bairey Merz, Medical Director of the Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles — about the discrepancy; she told him to rely on the data in the table.

But the more Emery and his editors looked, the more problems they found with the paper. They alerted the journal hours before it was set to publish, hoping that was enough to halt the process. It wasn’t.

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What should journals do when peer reviewers do not disclose potential conflicts?

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Peer reviewers, like authors, are supposed to declare any potential conflicts of interest. But what happens when they don’t?

Take this case: In a court transcript from Feb. 23, 2017, Bryan Hardin testified that he was a peer reviewer on a 2016 paper in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, which found that asbestos does not increase the risk of cancer. In the deposition, Hardin—who works at the consulting firm Veritox—also said that he has testified in asbestos litigation on behalf of automakers, such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, but said he had not disclosed these relationships to the journal.

Last year, the first author of the 2016 review withdrew a paper from another journal (by the same publisher) which concluded asbestos roofing products are safe, following several criticisms — including not disclosing the approving editor’s ties to the asbestos industry. In this latest case, the journal told us it believes the review process for the paper was up to snuff, but two outside experts we consulted said they believed Hardin’s relationships — and failure to disclose them — should give the journal pause.

We obtained a copy of the transcript from Christian Hartley, who was representing a man suing a mining company because the man developed cancer after being exposed to asbestos at work. When Hartley asked Hardin whether he had told the journal about testifying for companies involved in asbestos litigation, Hardin responded:

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JAMA tells readers: “Caution advised.” Here’s why.

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Last week, JAMA issued some unusual notices, letting readers know they should use caution when reading an editorial and letters associated with now-retracted articles by a bone researcher in Japan.

The notices — for papers by Yoshihiro Sato, now up to 14 retractions — remind readers not to heed the results of the now-retracted papers, and alert them to read any associated materials (specifically, an editorial in JAMA and letters in JAMA Internal Medicine) with caution.

The text of the notices describes them as “formal correction notices;” we asked Annette Flanagin, executive managing editor at The JAMA Network, why they chose that approach, instead of an expression of concern or retraction:

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