Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

Publisher flags paper on same-sex parenting after neo-Nazi group cites it

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A publisher has issued an expression of concern (EoC) about a study that claimed children with same-sex parents were at greater risk of depression and abuse, after posters using statistics from the paper to support a homophobic message appeared in Australia and the US.

On Aug. 21, several news websites reported that these posters were appearing in Melbourne, Australia, citing claims from a 2016 paper published in Depression Research and Treatment, which said that children with same-sex parents are more at risk for depression, abuse, and obesity than children with opposite-sex parents. The poster had also appeared previously in Minneapolis and has been traced to a neo-Nazi group, as reported by HuffPost Australia. Australia is preparing for a national, non-binding, mail-in vote on whether to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

The EoC mechanism, which was chosen by the journal’s publisher, Hindawi, is an unusual choice here. The paper’s author, D. Paul Sullins, a sociology professor at The Catholic University of America and the paper’s author, told Retraction Watch that Hindawi contacted him Aug. 21 about the decision. Initially, he told us he didn’t have any “particular objection to it,” but later told us he changed his mind after he read more about COPE’s guidelines for EoCs: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew P. Han

August 25th, 2017 at 11:53 am

Updated: Ohio State revokes PhD of co-author of now-retracted paper on shooter video games

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Jodi Whitaker, via University of Arizona

[This post, which at 1200 UTC 8/25/17 originally reported on the then-upcoming vote, has been updated at 1800 UTC 8/25/17 to include the results of the vote.]

A researcher who co-authored a paper about video games that was retracted earlier this year has had her PhD from The Ohio State University revoked.

As WOSU reported this afternoon, the vote today of the university’s Board of Trustees was unanimous. The scheduled vote on whether to revoke Jodi Whitaker’s degree was first reported yesterday by The Columbus Dispatch.

While a graduate student at Ohio State, Whitaker was co-author of a paper that claimed to find that first-person shooter video games improved marksmanship. As we’ve reported, the paper, published online in 2012, was retracted earlier this year, two years after a university committee was alerted to irregularities in the data by two outside researchers.

The controversy over the paper became heated at times. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 25th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Publisher won’t retract two papers, despite university’s request

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Jens Förster

Jens Förster, a high-profile social psychologist, has agreed to retract multiple papers following an institutional investigation — but has also fought to keep some papers intact. Recently, one publisher agreed with his appeal, and announced it would not retract two of his papers, despite the recommendation of his former employer.

Last month, the American Psychological Association (APA) announced it would not retract two papers co-authored by Förster, which the University of Amsterdam had recommended for retraction in May, 2015. The APA had followed the university’s advice last year and retracted two other papers, which Förster had agreed to as part of a settlement with the German Society for Psychology (DGPs). But after multiple appeals by Förster and his co-authors, the publisher has decided to retain the papers as part of the scientific record.

Many voices contributed to the discussion about these two papers — in November, 2016, the University of Amsterdam announced it was rejecting the appeal by another co-author on both papers, Nira Liberman, based at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The following month, Tel Aviv University announced that it believed the articles should not be retracted, based on its own internal review.

The APA reviewed the various recommendations, according to last month’s announcement:

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Volunteer researcher faked weeks’ worth of data

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A volunteer researcher at Florida Atlantic University fabricated the results of mouse experiments over a 14-day period in June, 2016, according to a new finding issued by the U.S Office of Research Integrity (ORI).

According to the ORI, Alec Mirchandani made up the results of behavioral experiments to make it seem as if he had done the work, and falsified animal transfer logs, which affected research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.

More specifically, the ORI determined that Mirchandani had “knowingly and intentionally:”

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Written by Alison McCook

July 14th, 2017 at 11:07 am

Following outcry, American Psychological Association “refocuses” takedown notice program

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After a deluge of protests from researchers who received notices from the American Psychological Association (APA) to remove papers from their websites, the publisher announced it will shift its focus to commercial sites.

Earlier this week, researchers took to Twitter to lament the takedown notices they had received from the APA; one posted the letter in place of his paper. The letters were part of a pilot program by the APA to remove “unauthorized online postings of APA journal articles.”

That program has now taken a bit of a turn. In a release yesterday, the APA says that:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 16th, 2017 at 10:39 am

Researchers protest publisher’s orders to remove papers from their websites

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Researchers are protesting orders from the American Psychological Association to remove links to papers from their websites.

Multiple researchers took to Twitter recently to lament the takedown notices they’ve received from the APA; one posted the letter in place of the link to his paper. According to the APA, the letters are part of a pilot program to “monitor and seek removal of unauthorized online postings of APA journal articles.”

The notices cite misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which enables internet users to protect their own content. But it can be heavily abused by people who file false copyright infringement claims to remove content they don’t like from the internet. (We have even been the target of such attempts.)

According to the letter posted by Nathaniel Daw at Princeton University, the APA says:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 14th, 2017 at 2:17 pm

NEJM issues unusual warning for readers about 1980 letter on opioid addiction

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This week, the New England Journal of Medicine issued a type of editor’s note we’ve never seen before, on a highly influential letter published nearly 40 years ago.

Above the one-paragraph letter, which reports data suggesting pain medications are not likely to cause addiction, the journal has added a note warning readers that the letter has been “heavily and uncritically cited” by sources using it to suggest opioids are not addictive.

In essence, the journal isn’t commenting on the merits of the letter — the problem is how it’s been used by others.

The same issue of the journal includes a letter by researchers based in Canada who analyzed how the 1980 letter had been cited, noting:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 2nd, 2017 at 8:00 am

Gender-based violence researcher now up to 10 retractions for plagiarism

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A publisher has retracted all of the papers it published by a researcher in Nigeria, citing plagiarism.

The papers, all about terrorism and gender-based violence, were written by Oluwaseun Bamidele. The journal editors and the publisher, Taylor & Francis, decided to retract nine papers by Bamidele because of the overlap to other works — which he also failed to reference.

Bamidele — who also lost a paper on Boko Haram for the same reason — told us he didn’t learn about what constitutes plagiarism until his graduate studies, after he’d already written the now-retracted manuscripts:

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Journal: Here’s why we didn’t retract this duplicated paper

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Here’s something we don’t see every day: A journal explains in an erratum notice why it chose not to retract a paper that contains data published elsewhere.

According to the Journal of Business and Psychology, the authors violated the journal’s transparency policy by failing to disclose that they’d used the same data in their 2014 in three others. However, the editors ultimately concluded the current paper was different enough from the other three to save it from being retracted.

Here’s the erratum: Read the rest of this entry »

Can we do math unconsciously? Replicators of a prominent 2012 study have some doubts

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In 2012, news media were abuzz with a new finding from PNAS: Authors based in Israel had found evidence that our brains can unconsciously process more than we thought — including basic math and reading.  In other words, the authors claimed people could read and do math without even knowing what they were doing.

With such a major development in the field of consciousness research, other groups quickly got to work trying to replicate the findings. Those efforts have taken some twists and turns — including a recent retraction of a replication paper that was, itself, not reproducible (which is not something we see every day). But overall, five years after the initial, remarkable result, the replication efforts are calling it into question.

According to Pieter Moors at KU Leuven, a researcher in this field:

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