Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘nutrition’ Category

Researcher who stole manuscript during peer review earns second retraction

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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: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

August 1st, 2017 at 8:00 am

More notices appear for embattled Cornell food researcher

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Journals have posted two corrections alongside papers by Brian Wansink, a food researcher whose work has lately come under fire.

One of the corrected papers was among the initial batch that raised eyebrows last year; after Wansink praised the productivity of one of his researchers, critics suggested four papers contained critical flaws. The questions about his work soon extended to other papers, one of which was retracted in April. That month, an internal review by Cornell University announced that Wansink made numerous mistakes, but did not commit misconduct. Wansink has pledged to reanalyze multiple papers.

One paper that was among those initially criticized has received a formal correction notice from the Journal of Product & Brand Management. The notice, which appears behind a paywall, has drawn fire from a regular critic of Wansink’s work, Jordan Anaya, who argues “this correction actually needs a correction, actually several.”

Here’s the notice for “Peak-end pizza: prices delay evaluations of quality:”

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“The correct values are impossible to establish:” Embattled nutrition researcher adds long fix to 2005 paper

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A Cornell food researcher who has pledged to re-analyze his papers following heavy criticism of his work has issued a major correction to a 2005 paper.

The correction tweaks two tables, a figure, and the description of the methodology — and notes in two instances the correct findings are unknown, since the original data are unavailable. Andrew Gelman, a statistician at Columbia University and critic of Brian Wansink’s work, has dubbed the notice the “best correction ever.”

The paper, about whether changing the name of food influences its taste, was not among the batch of papers initially flagged by critics last year. Since then, researchers have raised additional questions about Wansink’s work; one of his papers was retracted in April. That same month, an internal review by Cornell University concluded that Wansink made numerous mistakes, but did not commit misconduct.

When we contacted Wansink about the correction, we received this statement from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, which Wansink directs:

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Written by Alison McCook

July 4th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Researcher who tangled with CrossFit loses two more papers

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An exercise scientist who ran a study of the CrossFit exercise program without an approved human subjects protocol has lost two more papers to retraction.

Both papers were retracted on June 26 by the editors of the International Journal of Exercise Science (IJES) with the agreement of last author Steven Devor, a former professor at The Ohio State University. Both have been retracted because the studies were carried out without proper IRB approval.

Earlier in June, another paper from the CrossFit study — which is still at the center of a legal battle between CrossFit and a competitor in the market for exercise instructor licensing — was retracted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) for improper IRB approval. Devor resigned from OSU the day after the first retraction.

Only one of the newly retracted papers had anything to do with the CrossFit study: Published in April 2014, this paper suggested that the so-called “paleo” diet — a diet focused on meat and vegetables — is associated with “unfavorable” changes in cholesterols and other blood-based cardiovascular biomarkers. In addition to following the diet, subjects also participated in a CrossFit exercise program. Read the rest of this entry »

Instead of retracting a flawed study, a journal let authors re-do it. It got retracted anyway.

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When a journal discovers elementary design flaws in a paper, what should it do? Should it retract immediately, or are there times when it makes sense to give the researchers time to perform a “do-over?”

These are questions the editors at Scientific Reports recently faced with a somewhat controversial 2016 paper, which reported that microRNAs from broccoli could make their way into the nuclei of human cells — suggesting that the food we eat could affect our gene expression.

After the paper appeared, researcher Kenneth Witwer at Johns Hopkins — who was not a co-author — posted comments on PubMed Commons and the paper itself, noting that the authors hadn’t properly designed the experiment, making it impossible for them to detect broccoli microRNAs. 

But instead of retracting the paper, the journal decided to give the authors time to do the experiments again, this time with correctly designed molecular biology tools. When that failed, they retracted it — and as part of the notice, reported the exact opposite conclusion of the original.

Witwer said the authors did a “tremendous job” with the follow-up study, but he still thinks the journal should have retracted the paper immediately. Letting the authors redo it is “a dangerous precedent to set,” he told us:   

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12 years after researcher found guilty of misconduct, journal retracts paper

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In 2005, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity found an obesity researcher had engaged in scientific misconduct.

More specifically, the ORI report revealed that Eric Poehlman, then based at the University of Vermont, had “falsified and fabricated” data in 10 papers. The 2005 report asked that the journals issue retractions or corrections to the papers. By 2006, six of those papers were retracted (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). In 2006, a judge sentenced Poehlman to one year and one day in prison for falsifying research data.

In 2015, we explored how long it takes a journal to retract a paper. We found that four of the 10 papers had still not been retracted — one appeared to be missing from Medline, another had received a correction (as the ORI report requested), and two had not been retracted or corrected (1, 2).

Until now. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

June 21st, 2017 at 11:45 am

First retraction appears for embattled food researcher Brian Wansink

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Brian Wansink

Earlier this month, a high-profile food researcher who’s recently come under fire announced a journal was retracting one of his papers for duplication. Today, a retraction appeared — for a 2002 study which contained “major overlap,” according to the journal.

The Journal of Sensory Studies has retracted a paper by Cornell’s Brian Wansink about how labeling of foods can affect how they taste, after determining it borrowed too heavily from a 2000 paper. Wansink is the first author on both studies.

Here’s more from the retraction notice:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 10th, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Cornell finds mistakes — not misconduct — in papers by high-profile nutrition researcher

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Brian Wansink

An internal review by Cornell University has concluded that a high-profile researcher whose work has been under fire made numerous mistakes in his work, but did not commit misconduct.

In response, the researcher — Brian Wansinkannounced that he has submitted four errata to the journals that published the work in question. Since the initial allegations about the four papers, other researchers have raised numerous questions about additional papers that appear to contain duplicated material. Wansink noted that he has contacted the six journals that published that work, and was told one paper is being retracted.

Here’s the statement from Cornell about its initial probe:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 6th, 2017 at 3:23 pm

“Strange. Very strange:” Retracted nutrition study reappears in new journal

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In an unusual turn of events, a nutrition paper has come back to life a year after being pulled from its original publication.

After the paper was retracted from the journal Obesity, the authors revised it and republished it in another journal, Pediatric Obesity. Both journals are published by Wiley. The second version of the paper doesn’t mention the previous retraction. Indeed, the journal editor told us he didn’t know the paper had been retracted. Still, he stood by his decision to publish it.

The authors told us the paper was retracted after editors at Obesity raised concerns over the authors’ methodology. The authors revised the paper, adding some analysis and explanation of their methodological approach, and said the new version was accepted by peer reviewers before being published in Pediatric Obesity.

However, an outside expert who reviewed both papers for us said he thinks the authors didn’t change enough. According to Patrick McKnight, head of the Measurement, Research methodology, Evaluation, and Statistics group at George Mason University and a Statistical Advisory Board member of

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Written by Megan Scudellari

March 28th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Patient misdiagnosed with rare neurological side effect in retracted case study

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When two surgeons in Greece learned that a patient had developed a rare side effect following weight loss surgery, they were eager to publish the case.

After extensive testing, the patient was diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy—a neurological disorder caused by thiamine deficiency—following a sleeve gastrectomy procedure. As the authors note in the paper, they had seen only eight other cases following the procedure in the literature.

It turns out, theirs was not the ninth. After the patient unfortunately died, he was examined by a coroner, who ruled he did not, in fact, have Wernicke’s encephalopathy. So Dimitrios Manatakis and Nikolaos Georgopoulos, both based at Athens Naval and Veterans Hospital in Greece, have retracted their 2014 case study.

When the first learned of the patient, the authors wanted to alert the surgical community to the case, given the rarity of this side effect, Manatakis told us: Read the rest of this entry »