Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘oncology retractions’ Category

You’ve been dupe’d: Nice data — let’s see them again

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As we’ve said before, with hundreds of retractions per year, there are simply too many for us to cover individually.

So from time to time we’ll compile a list of retractions that appeared relatively straightforward, just for record-keeping purposes.

Often, these seemingly straightforward retractions involve duplications, in which authors — accidentally or on purpose — republish their own work elsewhere.

Sometimes journals and authors blame this event on “poor communication,” our first example notes:

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Should a paper be retracted if an author omits a conflict of interest?

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s-cover-yvs1606A JAMA journal has quickly issued a correction for a 2016 paper after the author failed to mention several relevant conflicts of interest. Normally, we’d see this as a run-of-the-mill correction notice, but since we reported last week that a journal retracted a paper for omitting pharma funding, we got to wondering: Is failure to disclose a conflict of interest a retractable offense?

Guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) do say that retractions are used for “failure to disclose a major competing interest likely to influence interpretations or recommendations.” But most of the time when we see corrections to the literature for such omissions, they’re corrections, not retractions.

On Friday, JAMA Ophthalmology issued a correction notice for an invited commentary published in April, which addressed two papers in the journal about melanoma of the eye (uveal melanoma). However, the original commentary failed to note that author Arun D. Singh at the Cleveland Clinic had some relevant conflicts to mention, as the notice explains: Read the rest of this entry »

Paper reports data from PET/CT scan, years before it arrived

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MedicineAuthors have retracted a study just three months after publishing it, upon realizing they made “several critical errors.”

For one, the authors didn’t actually collect the data they claim to in the title of the paper, which reported on methods to screen patients for recurrence of lung cancer. The authors included data from positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT), collected from 2003 to 2007 — but their institution didn’t have a PET/CT scanner until 2009. Instead, the authors had mistakenly reported the results of PET scans alone, which may not find tumors as effectively as PET/CT.

Here’s the retraction notice in Medicine, which explains the nature of the error in more detail. (Note: One of the authors supplied some missing text, in brackets.)

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Written by Shannon Palus

June 1st, 2016 at 11:30 am

How should journals update papers when new findings come out?

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NEJM Logo

When authors get new data that revise a previous report, what should they do?

In the case of a 2015 lung cancer drug study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the journal published a letter to the editor with the updated findings.

Shortly after the paper was published, a pharmaceutical company released new data showing the drug wasn’t quite as effective as it had seemed. Once the authors included the new data in their analysis, they adjusted their original response rate of 59%  — hailed as one of a few “encouraging results” in an NEJM editorial at the time of publication — to 45%, as they write in the letter. One of the authors told us they published the 2015 paper using less “mature” data because the drug’s benefits appeared so promising, raising questions about when to publish “exciting but still evolving data.”

It’s not a correction, as the original paper has not been changed; it doesn’t even contain a flag that it’s been updated. But among the online letters about the paper is one from the authors, “Update to Rociletinib Data with the RECIST Confirmed Response Rate,” which provides the new data and backstory:

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Non-retraction notice: Editors explain why two similar papers aren’t redundant

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abdominal radiologyEditors have published a notice to let readers know why they’re not retracting a couple of papers.

One paper examined whether the results of CT scans could be used to stage patients with uterine carcinoma; the other considered whether CT scans could be used to predict overall survival in uterine carcinoma. Both papers — by researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center — used data from the same 193 women. After they appeared in in different journals, the editors considered whether they were redundant — a quality that can spell retraction for a paper.

The editors explain why they decided the papers were unique in a brief commentary — a non-retraction notice, if you will — published in a third journal, Abdominal Radiology:

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Cancer paper that doctored image from Science story earns retraction

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lungcancercoverHere’s a joke for all you middle-schoolers out there. How are doctored images like bad pennies? They keep cropping up!

Here’s the latest one we’ve picked up: Lung Cancer has retracted a 2014 paper on the genetics of tumors after concluding the authors cribbed a figure that had appeared in a 2005 feature story in Science.

The paper, “ß-elemene against human lung cancer via up-regulation of P53 protein expression to promote the release of exosome,” drew attention on PubPeer last September from a reader who noticed striking similarities between one of the images the authors used and a figure in the Science piece (subscription required). According to the PubPeer commenter: Read the rest of this entry »

Three HER2-cancer review papers tagged with expressions of concern

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The Oncologist Her 2 expression of concern

The Oncologist has tagged three review papers that share a first author with an expression of concern. The three papers, which have together been cited more than 1,000 times, focus on HER2, a gene that can contribute to breast cancer.

Though the papers contain errors, the conclusions — about how the HER2 gene serves as a predictive factor for breast cancer, and a target for therapies — remain unchanged, according to the EOC. The editor of the journal notes that the conclusions of the papers have been confirmed by other publications. Two of the papers are more than 10 years old, and today many patients continue to be treated with medications that target HER2, such as Herceptin.

Here’s the expression of concern:

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Paper on GI cancers linked to AIDS pulled for errors that upped tumor incidence

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gastroGastroenterology has retracted a 2012 article on GI cancers associated with AIDS after the authors, from the National Cancer Institute, acknowledged that a “programming” error led them to overestimate the incidence of the tumors.

The paper, “Increased Risk of Stomach and Esophageal Malignancies in People With AIDS,” received a significant amount of attention when it first appeared, including a press release from the American Gastroenterological Association and several news articles. Here are its primary findings, according to the abstractRead the rest of this entry »

Seven papers flagged earlier for fake reviews now retracted by Elsevier

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elsevierElsevier has now retracted the seven papers it flagged in October as being affected by fake peer reviews.

If you’re not keeping track, we are: We have logged a total of about 300 retractions for fake peer review, in which some aspect of the peer-review process becomes compromised — for instance, in the case of the newly retracted papers, authors appear to have created fake email accounts in order to pose as reviewers and give the green light to their own papers.

The same retraction note applies to five of the recently retracted papers:

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Scientists call for retraction of “seriously misleading” paper with asbestos industry ties

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EBPHEleven scientists are asking a journal to consider retracting an asbestos paper with industry ties for including “seriously misleading information,” “several wrong statements,” and thrice citing a journal that doesn’t appear to exist.

Editors of the journal, Epidemiology Biostatistics and Public Health, however, say they will not retract the article, based on the advice of two external reviewers.

An earlier correction for the paper,  “Further Studies of Bolivian Crocidolite – Part IV: Fibre Width, Fibre Drift and their relation to Mesothelioma Induction: Preliminary Findings,” cited previously undisclosed competing interests for four of the paper’s five authors.

Earlier this year, scientists criticized “gross mistakes” in another paper from three of the same authors: Edward Ilgren, Yumi Kamiya, and John Hoskins. EBPH subsequently issued two corrections but did not retract that paper. Read our full coverage here. Read the rest of this entry »