Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

Is the bulk of fMRI data questionable?

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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

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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:

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

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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

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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:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 3rd, 2016 at 11:30 am

PLOS ONE paper plagiarized from 17 articles — yes, 17

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PLOSOneA PLOS ONE paper about chronic pain plagiarized from multiple sources — 17, in fact.

According to the retraction notice released by the journal last week, the paper contains “extensive verbatim use of text from other sources.”

How did this make it past the editors? The journal published the paper in 2012 — before it began screening papers for plagiarism, according to a spokesperson.

Here’s the retraction notice for “The Effect of Social Stress on Chronic Pain Perception in Female and Male Mice:”

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Written by Shannon Palus

May 31st, 2016 at 9:30 am

Duplicated data gets corrected — not retracted — by psych journal

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Psychological Science

A psychology journal is correcting a paper for reusing data. The editor told us the paper is a “piecemeal publication,” not a duplicate, and is distinct enough from the previous article that it is not “grounds for retraction.”

The authors tracked the health and mood of 65 patients over nine weeks. In one paper, they concluded that measures of physical well being and psychosocial well being positively predict one another; in the other (the now corrected paper), they concluded that health and mood (along with positive emotions) influence each other in a self-sustaining dynamic.

As a press release for the now-corrected paper put it: Read the rest of this entry »

Context matters when replicating experiments, argues study

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PNASBackground factors such as culture, location, population, or time of day affect the success rates of replication experiments, a new study suggests.

The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used data from the psychology replication project, which found only 39 out of 100 experiments live up to their original claims. The authors conclude that more “contextually sensitive” papers — those whose background factors are more likely to affect their replicability — are slightly less likely to be reproduced successfully.

They summarize their results in the paper:

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Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

May 23rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm

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

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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

Retractions aren’t enough: Why science has bigger problems

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Andrew Gelman

Andrew Gelman

Scientific fraud isn’t what keeps Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics at Columbia University in New York, up at night. Rather, it’s the sheer number of unreliable studies — uncorrected, unretracted — that have littered the literature. He tells us more, below.

Whatever the vast majority of retractions are, they’re a tiny fraction of the number of papers that are just wrong — by which I mean they present no good empirical evidence for their claims.

I’ve personally had to correct two of my published articles.   Read the rest of this entry »

Publicly available data on thousands of OKCupid users pulled over copyright claim

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okcupidThe Open Science Framework (OSF) has pulled a dataset from 70,000 users of the online dating site OkCupid over copyright concerns, according to the study author.

The release of the dataset generated concerns, by making personal information — including personality traits — publicly available.

Emil Kirkegaard, a master’s student at Aarhus University in Denmark, told us that the OSF removed the data from its site after OkCupid filed a claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires the host of online content to remove it under certain conditions. Kirkegaard also submitted a paper based on this dataset to the journal he edits, Open Differential Psychology. But with the dataset no longer public, the fate of the paper is subject to “internal discussions,” he told us.

In place of the dataset on OSF, this message now appears: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 16th, 2016 at 3:10 pm