The “regression to the mean project:” What researchers should know about a mistake many make

David Allison, via IU

The work of David Allison and his colleagues may be familiar to Retraction Watch readers. Allison was the researcher — then at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, now at Indiana University — who led an effort to correct the nutrition literature a few years ago. He and his colleagues are back, this time with what might be called the “Regression to the Mean Project,” an attempt to fix a problem that seems to vex many clinical trials. You may have noticed some items in Weekend Reads about letters to the editor that mention the issue. Here, Allison explains.

•Retraction Watch (RW): First, what is “regression to the mean,” and what does it mean for clinical studies? Continue reading The “regression to the mean project:” What researchers should know about a mistake many make

Does the Mediterranean diet prevent heart attacks? NEJM retracts (and replaces) high-profile paper

The New England Journal of Medicine has retracted a 2013 paper that provided some proof that the Mediterranean diet can directly prevent heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.

The original paper, “Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet,” has been cited 1,759 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

But the findings haven’t disappeared — the authors have replaced the paper with a new version, which softens its earlier claims. Continue reading Does the Mediterranean diet prevent heart attacks? NEJM retracts (and replaces) high-profile paper

Nutrition paper claims intervention cuts child obesity. Experts disagree.

Does incorporating gardens and their harvest into school-based nutrition programs help children get healthier? A 2017 paper claims it does, but a group of outside experts disagrees — strongly.

The 2017 paper reported that adding gardens to schools and teaching kids how to cook the harvest, among other elements, helped kids learn about nutrition — and even improved their body mass index, a measure of body weight.

However, soon after the paper appeared, a group of outside experts told the journal the data reported by the paper didn’t support its conclusions — namely, the authors hadn’t shown that the intervention had any effect. The authors performed an inappropriate analysis of the data, the critics claimed, and the paper needed to be either corrected or retracted outright.

But the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior has not amended the paper in any way. Instead, last month, it published the outside experts’ criticism of the paper, including their explicit calls to either correct or retract it, along with the authors’ response to the critics.

David Allison, the last author on the critical letter and the dean of the school of public health at Indiana University Bloomington, said he was surprised to see the journal chose to publish his critical letter, but not alter the paper itself:

Continue reading Nutrition paper claims intervention cuts child obesity. Experts disagree.

Caught Our Notice: Brian Wansink issues correction that’s longer than original paper

Title: Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools

What Caught Our Attention: One thing can be said for the corrections for Brian Wansink‘s papers — they aren’t short.  After James Heathers outlined some of his concerns about the highly cited study back in March, 2017, the journal has issued a correction, and it’s longer (1636 words) than the original, highly cited paper (1401 words). Some of the changes include explaining the children studied were preschoolers (3-5 years old), not preteens (8-11), as originally claimed. (It may be hard to imagine how the authors could make such a mistake, but they did it once before, in another retracted paper.) Even with all those words explaining the correction — we’re only including an excerpt of the entire notice below — some concerns still remain: Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Brian Wansink issues correction that’s longer than original paper

Caught Our Notice: “Ironically,” same error in same journal “was noted last year”

Via Wikimedia

Title: Sleep quality and body composition variations in obese male adults after 14 weeks of yoga intervention: A randomized controlled trial

What Caught Our Attention: Last year, researchers led by David Allison at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health called for the retraction of an article linking weight loss and obese female yoga participants in the International Journal of Yoga, citing problems with randomization and baseline statistics. Despite the first author’s statement that he planned to retract the article, the journal refused to retract it.   Continue reading Caught Our Notice: “Ironically,” same error in same journal “was noted last year”

Caught Our Notice: Oops — 10-fold error reverses heart warning for Ghanaians

Via Wikimedia

Title: Ghanaians Might Be at Risk of Inadequate Dietary Intake of Potassium

What Caught Our Attention: Potassium-rich diets are thought to be “heart-healthy,” and after examining the average dietary habits of Ghanaian adults, researchers determined the average potassium (K) intake to be well below global standards.  However, the authors’ calculations of potassium intake per capita were too low by factor of 10, resulting in the incorrect conclusion that the average potassium intake was only 856 mg per day, an amount substantially lower than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of 3510 mg/day.  The new calculations show an average K intake of 8,560 mg/day, well over the WHO guideline.  

We asked the corresponding author, David Oscar Yawson, about the source of the error, and he responded:

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Oops — 10-fold error reverses heart warning for Ghanaians

Retract, replace, retract: Beleaguered food researcher pulls article from JAMA journal (again)

Brian Wansink

A high-profile food researcher who’s faced heavy criticism about his work has retracted the revised version of an article he’d already retracted last month.

Yes, you read that right: Brian Wansink at Cornell University retracted the original article from JAMA Pediatrics in September, replacing it with a revised version. Now he’s retracting the revised version, citing a major error: The study, which reported children were more likely to choose an apple over a cookie if the apple included an Elmo sticker, was conducted in children 3-5 years old, not 8-11, as the study reported.

Although Wansink told BuzzFeed he asked the journal to retract the paper, Annette Flanagin, Executive Managing Editor for The JAMA Network, told us the editors requested the retraction:

Continue reading Retract, replace, retract: Beleaguered food researcher pulls article from JAMA journal (again)

Prominent food researcher retracts paper from JAMA journal, replaces it with multiple fixes

Brian Wansink

Earlier this week, we reported that high-profile food researcher Brian Wansink — who’s faced months of criticisms about his research — had issued his second retraction. On Thursday, he issued his third.

The retracted paper — a 2012 research letter in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, now JAMA Pediatrics — reported that children were more likely to choose an apple over a cookie if the apple included an Elmo sticker. The same day the paper was retracted, Wansink and his co-authors published a replacement version that includes multiple changes, including to the methodology and the results.

The retraction notice lists the mistakes, which the authors say they made “inadvertently:”

Continue reading Prominent food researcher retracts paper from JAMA journal, replaces it with multiple fixes

Another retraction hits high-profile food researcher under fire

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:

Continue reading Another retraction hits high-profile food researcher under fire

Researcher who stole manuscript during peer review earns second retraction

The researcher whose brazen theft of a manuscript he had reviewed prompted a “Dear plagiarist” letter from the aggrieved author once the deceit was discovered has lost a second paper for plagiarism.

International Scholarly Research Notices, a Hindawi publication, has retracted a 2012 study by Carmine Finelli and colleagues, citing widespread misuse of text from two previously published articles. The removal was prompted by the curiosity of a scientist in England who, on reading about Finelli’s first retraction, made the logical assumption: once a plagiarist, often a plagiarist.

The review article was titled “Physical Activity: An Important Adaptative Mechanism for Body-Weight Control.” The journal is not indexed by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, but the paper has been cited seven times, according to Google Scholar. According to the retraction notice: Continue reading Researcher who stole manuscript during peer review earns second retraction