Psychology journal to retract study claiming that people fear contagion less in the dark

As we’re fond of repeating, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Which doesn’t jibe with the findings in an eye-catching  2018 paper that found people were less fearful of catching a contagious illness if they were in a dark room or were wearing sunglasses.

Fortunately for us, although not for the researchers, we no longer have to live with the cognitive dissonance. The paper, the journal tells us, will be retracted for flaws in the data — which, thanks to the open sharing of data, quickly came to light.

The study, which appeared in May in Psychological Science, reported that: Continue reading Psychology journal to retract study claiming that people fear contagion less in the dark

Prominent video game-violence researcher loses another paper to retraction

Brad Bushman

If you read this space, you probably know the name Brad Bushman. He studies the effects of violent video games on the people who play them. He also has just retracted his third paper, and significantly corrected another.

Although Bushman remains a prominent voice in a highly contentious field — prompting numerous media to consult him after school shootings or other violent acts — he’s retracted two papers, one following an investigation at his institution, the Ohio State University (OSU), which prompted OSU to strip his co-author of her PhD. (There’s a lot more to tell about that story, including the backlash outside critics faced for taking their concerns about the paper public. To read more, check out our in-depth piece in Motherboard.)

Bushman’s third retraction came this month; he nearly had a fourth as well, but attorneys for the publisher decided that a massive correction (to a paper which previously had been flagged with an expression of concern) would be more appropriate.

The retraction notice from Current Opinion in Psychology states the paper showed too much similarity to a 2016 paper in the same journal by Bushman and Arlin James Benjamin, based at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. It notes that although Bushman was the guest editor of the issue of the journal:

Continue reading Prominent video game-violence researcher loses another paper to retraction

Meet two data sleuths who paid a steep price for raising concerns about a problematic paper

Researchers Malte Elson and Patrick Markey probably didn’t know what they were getting into when they first raised questions about a problematic study of the possible effects of violent video games.

Like many other data sleuths out there, they simply wanted to ensure the scientific record wasn’t muddied by problematic data — particularly in such a high-profile area with a potentially profound impact on policy.  Although their efforts ultimately paid off — the paper was retracted, and the first author lost her PhD — they also paid a price. Continue reading Meet two data sleuths who paid a steep price for raising concerns about a problematic paper

Hey journals, it is possible to quickly correct the record

Even when a paper is obviously flawed, it can take years for journals to take action. Some never do. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

On April 27, a reader emailed the editors of two journals, noting that each had recently published a paper by the same group of authors that appeared strikingly similar.

Four days later, on May 1, a representative at Medicine, the journal that published the most recent version of the paper, wrote the reader back, saying the paper was going to be retracted.

Continue reading Hey journals, it is possible to quickly correct the record

Study that said hate cuts 12 years off gay lives fails to replicate

A highly cited paper has received a major correction as a result of the ongoing battle over attitudes towards gay people, when a prominent — and polarizing — critic showed it could not be replicated.  

In December 2017, researchers led by Mark Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University corrected the paper, originally published in Social Science & Medicine in February 2014, which showed that gay people who live in areas where people were highly prejudiced against them had a significantly shorter life expectancy. The corrigendum came more than a year after a researcher who has testified against same-sex marriage was unable to replicate the original study.

“Structural stigma and all-cause mortality in sexual minority populations,” has been cited 102 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, and attracted media coverage when it was published, from outlets such as Reuters and U.S. News & World Report.

Continue reading Study that said hate cuts 12 years off gay lives fails to replicate

Caught Our Notice: An article about repetition is duplicated? Priceless

Title: Does repetition help? Impact of destination promotion videos on perceived destination image and intention-to-visit change

What Caught Our Attention: At times we get to just appreciate the moment: A paper focused on repetition — specifically, linking repeated exposure to travel videos and actual visits to the location — got retracted for duplication.  The notice says the duplications were “inadvertent;” perhaps these researchers were motivated by their research? This isn’t the first time authors have been tripped up by their own subjects — in 2015, a researcher retracted his guidelines on plagiarism for…you guessed it. (Plagiarism.) Continue reading Caught Our Notice: An article about repetition is duplicated? Priceless

RAND re-releases withdrawn report modelling child mistreatment

A think tank has re-issued a report on child welfare in the U.S., six months after it pulled the document amidst criticism from dozens of researchers.

The report offered policy recommendations for improving the child welfare system, based on numerical modeling conducted by researchers at the RAND Corporation.

RAND pulled the initial version of the report in June, after researchers — including Richard Barth, dean of the University of Maryland’s school of social work and Emily Putnam-Hornstein, of the University of Southern California — criticized the model for underestimating the rate of maltreatment over a child’s lifetime.

The report, reissued Dec. 11, contains updates detailing how the RAND researchers addressed the criticism. However, Jeanne Ringel, a senior economist at RAND and the study’s lead author, told us: Continue reading RAND re-releases withdrawn report modelling child mistreatment

University requests 4th retraction for psychologist under fire

Jens Förster

The University of Amsterdam has requested another retraction for a prominent social psychologist, after reviewing the dissertations he supervised while at the university.

The university made the announcement this week after reviewing the theses supervised by Jens Förster, whose own work has been subject to considerable scrutiny.

The results of this investigation come more than two years after an initial probe into Förster’s work, which found several of his papers likely contained unreliable data; three of these papers have been retracted and four have received expressions of concern. Förster, who recently left his position at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany to start a private psychology practice, has always maintained that he did not manipulate his data. In 2015, he turned down a professorship, citing the toll the investigation had taken. Continue reading University requests 4th retraction for psychologist under fire

Caught Our Notice: 1,376 words of overlap in paper by food researcher Brian Wansink

Via Wikimedia

TitleChange Their Choice! Changing Behavior Using the CAN Approach and Activism Research

What Caught Our Attention: Food researcher Brian Wansink has had a rough time lately. After researchers began scrutinizing his work, he has racked up five retractions and multiple corrections. (We’re counting one retracted paper twice, as Wansink first retracted and replaced it with a new version, then retracted the replacement.)

These notices haven’t gone unnoticed, either by us or other media outlets — BuzzFeed reported on his most recent retraction this weekend, a paper a critic discussed with us, as well. Yesterday, BuzzFeed also reported that Cornell is investigating. (It wouldn’t be the first time — in April, Cornell announced that it had found evidence of mistakes, not misconduct, in Wansink’s papers.)  Below, we present his 13th correction, for duplicated text — 1,376 words of duplicated text, to be exact.

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: 1,376 words of overlap in paper by food researcher Brian Wansink

After losing two video game-violence papers, co-author’s weapons paper is flagged

Can seeing a weapon increase aggressive thoughts and behaviors?

A meta-analysis on the so-called “weapons effect” has been flagged with an expression of concern by a SAGE journal, after the researchers discovered errors affecting at least one of the main conclusions.

The paper found that the presence of weapons increased people’s aggressiveness, but not feelings of anger. However, the corresponding author, Arlin James Benjamin, who works at University of Arkansas–Fort Smith, told us:

we would urge considerably more caution in interpreting the impact of weapons on behavioral outcomes based on those initial re-analyses.

Last author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University (OSU), was the corresponding author on two now-retracted papers linking video games and violence. Continue reading After losing two video game-violence papers, co-author’s weapons paper is flagged