Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘psychiatry’ Category

Is the bulk of fMRI data questionable?

with 3 comments

Anders Eklund

Anders Eklund, via Linköping University

Last week, a study brought into question years of research conducted using the neuroimaging technique functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The new paper, published in PNAS, particularly raised eyebrows for suggesting that the rates of false positives in studies using fMRI could be up to 70%, which may affect many of the approximately 40,000 studies in academic literature that have so far used the technique. We spoke to the Anders Eklund, from Linköping University in Sweden, who was the first author of the study. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

July 12th, 2016 at 9:30 am

JAMA authors retract (and replace) paper about moves and kids’ mental health

with 4 comments

JAMAJAMA authors have retracted — and replaced — a 2014 paper about the mental health effects of household moves on kids, after they found errors while completing an additional analysis.

The original paper concluded that in “families who moved out of high-poverty neighborhoods, boys experienced an increase and girls a decrease in rates of depression and conduct disorder,” according to a press release issued by the journal along with the paper (which also got some press attention from Reuters). But part of that conclusion is wrong.

The authors write in a notice for “Associations of Housing Mobility Interventions for Children in High-Poverty Neighborhoods With Subsequent Mental Disorders During Adolescence” that:

Read the rest of this entry »

Conservative political beliefs not linked to psychotic traits, as study claimed

with 21 comments

American Journal of Political Science

Researchers have fixed a number of papers after mistakenly reporting that people who hold conservative political beliefs are more likely to exhibit traits associated with psychoticism, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness.

As one of the notices specifies, now it appears that liberal political beliefs are linked with psychoticism. That paper also swapped ideologies when reporting on people higher in neuroticism and social desirability (falsely claiming that you have socially desirable qualities); the original paper said those traits are linked with liberal beliefs, but they are more common among people with conservative values.

We’re not clear how much the corrections should inform our thinking about politics and personality traits, however, because it’s not clear from the paper how strongly those two are linked. The authors claim that the strength of the links are not important, as they do not affect the main conclusions of the papers — although some personality traits appear to correlate with political beliefs, one doesn’t cause the other, nor vice versa.

In total, three papers have been corrected by authors, and a correction has been submitted on one more.

We’ll start with an erratum that explains the backstory of the error in detail. It appears on “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies,” published by the American Journal of Political Science: Read the rest of this entry »

PLOS ONE republishes removed chronic fatigue syndrome data

with one comment

PLOS OnePLOS ONE has republished data that were abruptly removed two weeks ago after the authors expressed concerns they did not have permission to release them.

The dataset — de-identified information from people with chronic fatigue syndrome — was removed May 18, noting it was “published in error.” But this week, the journal republished the dataset, saying the authors’ university had been consulted, and the dataset could be released.

This paper has drawn scrutiny for its similarities to a controversial “PACE” trial of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Here’s the second correction notice for “Therapist Effects and the Impact of Early Therapeutic Alliance on Symptomatic Outcome in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” released June 1:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

June 3rd, 2016 at 11:30 am

PLOS editors discussing authors’ decision to remove chronic fatigue syndrome data

with 15 comments

After PLOS ONE allowed authors to remove a dataset from a paper on chronic fatigue syndrome, the editors are now “discussing the matter” with the researchers, given the journal’s requirements about data availability.

As Leonid Schneider reported earlier today, the 2015 paper was corrected May 18 to remove an entire dataset; the authors note that they were not allowed to publish anonymized patient data, but can release it to researchers upon request. The journal, however, requires that authors make their data fully available.

Here’s the correction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 20th, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Authors retract, replace highly cited JAMA Psych paper for “pervasive errors”

with 6 comments

JAMA PsychiatryAuthors have retracted a highly cited JAMA Psychiatry study about depression after failing to account for some patient recoveries, among other mistakes.

It’s a somewhat unusual notice — it explains that the paper has been retracted and replaced with a new, corrected version.

The study, which included 452 adults with major depressive disorder, concluded that cognitive therapy plus medication works better to treat depression than pills alone. But after it was published, a reader pointed out that some of the numbers in a table were incorrect. The authors reviewed the data and redid their analysis, and discovered “a number of pervasive errors.”

The notice (termed “notice of retraction and replacement”) explains the consequences of those errors:

Read the rest of this entry »

Ethics committee asks journal to retract paper about controversial growth-stunting treatment

with one comment


A journal has retracted a paper on a controversial course of treatment used to stunt the growth of disabled children, at the request of the human research ethics committee at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.

The paper described the so-called Ashley Treatment — explored last week in the New York Times — in which disabled children receive hormones and procedures to keep them small and diminish the effects of puberty, making it easier for them to be cared for. The retracted paper analyzed the use of the treatment in a girl named Charley who was born in New Zealand with a brain injury, whose case has attracted the attention of The Washington Post and People magazine, among other outlets.

The paper analyzed Charley’s case, and did not involve any clinical subjects. But the retraction note suggests that the ethics of publishing this paper weren’t fully worked out:

Read the rest of this entry »

Authors used wrong dataset in study on shock therapy, exercise in depression

with 5 comments

J psych resA psychiatric journal has pulled a 2014 paper that found electroconvulsive therapy and exercise helped people with depression, after the authors determined they had mistakenly analyzed the wrong data.

According to the retraction notice from the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the researchers had “erroneously analyzed” data from a previous study they had published the year before.

Here’s more from the note for “Electroconvulsive therapy and aerobic exercise training increased BDNF and ameliorated depressive symptoms in patients suffering from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder:” Read the rest of this entry »

Wikipedia page reincarnated as paper: Authors plagiarized paper on reincarnation

with 6 comments


When an entry on Wikipedia dies, can it come back as a paper in a peer-reviewed journal?

Apparently not, according to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, which has retracted a 2013 article about reincarnation after discovering the authors lifted text from a “old revision” of a Wikipedia entry on the subject.

The article, “The mystery of reincarnation,” states that:

One of the mysteries puzzling human mind since the origin of mankind is the concept of “reincarnation” which literally means “to take on the flesh again.”

The article presents how different religions describe reincarnation, and apparently provides “some research evidence” about the phenomenon. But according to the retraction notice, the authors, led by AK Nagaraj of Mysore Medical College, took on the words again of other writers:

Read the rest of this entry »

What to do when you make a mistake? Advice from authors who’ve been there

with 6 comments

cpp-150After a group of researchers noticed an error that affected the analysis of a survey of psychologists working with medical teams to help pediatric patients, they didn’t just issue a retraction — they published a commentary explaining what exactly went wrong.

The error was discovered by a research assistant who was assembling a scientific poster, and noticed the data didn’t align with what was reported in the journal. The error, the authors note, was:

an honest one, a mistake of not reverse coding a portion of the data that none of the authors caught over several months of editing and conference calls. Unfortunately, this error led to misrepresentation and misinterpretation of a subset of the data, impacting the results and discussion.

Needless to say, these authors — who use their “lessons learned” to help other researchers avoid similar missteps — earn a spot in our “doing the right thing” category. The retraction and commentary both appear in Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology.

Their first piece of advice in “Retraction experience, lessons learned, and recommendations for clinician researchers” — assume errors will happen, and not vice versa: Read the rest of this entry »