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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

Psychology journal editor has seven articles retracted for duplication or plagiarism

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ejopThe editor of a psychology journal has had seven papers in a different psychology journal retracted, for either plagiarism or duplication, although the notices are vague.

Here are the seven articles by Paraskevi Theofilou, editor of Health Psychology Research, in Europe’s Journal of Psychology: Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by ivanoransky

November 20, 2013 at 9:30 am

“Just significant” results have been around for decades in psychology — but have gotten worse: study

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qjepLast year, two psychology researchers set out to figure out whether the statistical results psychologists were reporting in the literature were distributed the way you’d expect. We’ll let the authors, E.J. Masicampo, of Wake Forest, and Daniel Lalande, of the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, explain why they did that:

The psychology literature is meant to comprise scientific observations that further people’s understanding of the human mind and human behaviour. However, due to strong incentives to publish, the main focus of psychological scientists may often shift from practising rigorous and informative science to meeting standards for publication. One such standard is obtaining statistically significant results. In line with null hypothesis significance testing (NHST), for an effect to be considered statistically significant, its corresponding p value must be less than .05.

When Masicampo and Lalande looked at a year’s worth of three highly cited psychology journals — the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; and Psychological Science — from 2007 to 2008, they found: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ivanoransky

November 12, 2013 at 9:30 am

Journal of Virtual Studies retracts Second Life paper that was, um, virtually on its second life

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Nikolaos Pellas

Second Life is a virtual reality site in which you can “Experience endless surprises and unexpected delights in a world imagined and created by people like you.” Only Nikolaos Pellas, of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, is now having two papers on virtual reality retracted because he apparently experienced endless surprises and unexpected delights in a world imagined and created by other people.

Here’s one notice from the Journal of Virtual Studies: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ivanoransky

September 30, 2013 at 11:39 am

Fredrickson-Losada “positivity ratio” paper partially withdrawn

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am psychIn 2005, Barbara Fredrickson and Marcial Losada published a paper in American Psychologist making a bold and specific claim:

…the authors predict that a ratio of positive to negative affect at or above 2.9 will characterize individuals in flourishing mental health.

The paper made quite a splash. It has been cited 360 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, and formed the basis of a 2009 book by Fredrickson, Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life.

But something didn’t sit right with Nick Brown, a psychology grad student at the University of East London. He found the paper’s claims wanting, and contacted Alan Sokal — yes, that Alan Sokal, who published a fake paper in Social Text in 1996. Sokal agreed, and he, Brown, and Harris Friedman published a critique of the paper in July of this year in American Psychologist. Its abstract: Read the rest of this entry »

Real problems with retracted shame and money paper revealed

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sjdmLast month, we reported on a retraction in Judgment and Decision Making that said “problems were discovered with the data.” At the time, corresponding author Wen-Bin Chiou, of National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan, told us that a research assistant who had since left the lab hadn’t kept questionnaires used in the research, making replication impossible.

But it turns out that wasn’t the whole story of “Shame for money: Shame enhances the incentive value of economic resources,” to put it charitably. We’ve now heard from people familiar with the case and can provide a fuller account.

The problems with the paper, according to our source, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ivanoransky

September 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

One more paper down for sex researcher Weijmar Schultz

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Weijmar Schultz

Weijmar Schultz

The fifth of six expected retractions for copyright infringement has arrived for a group of sex researchers led by Willibrord Weijmar Schultz, this one in the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer of a 1992 article.

As we reported earlier this year, Schultz (whose 1999 paper on sex in an MRI won an Ig Nobel prize) and his colleague,  Mels F. Van Driel, were found not to have committed plagiarism by investigators at the University of Groningen. Instead, they were found guilty of “unintended and unknowing breach of copyright.”

But they were asked to apologize formally to a litany of people — from the editors involved to the sponsors of the research — for what the institution described as “unintended and unknowing breach of copyright” of the work of one Diana Jeffrey, whose 1985 dissertation evidently was very much worth reading.

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

Are US behavioral science researchers more likely to exaggerate their results?

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Daniele Fanelli

Daniele Fanelli

When Retraction Watch readers think of problematic psychology research, their minds might naturally turn to Diederik Stapel, who now has 54 retractions under his belt. Dirk Smeesters might also tickle the neurons.

But a look at our psychology category shows that psychology retractions are an international phenomenon. (Remember Marc Hauser?) And a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that it’s behavioral science researchers in the U.S. who are more likely to exaggerate or cherry-pick their findings.

For the new paper, Daniele Fanelli — whose 2009 paper in PLoS ONE contains some of the best data on the prevalence of misconduct — teamed up with John Ioannidis, well known for his work on “why most published research findings are false.” They looked at Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ivanoransky

August 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Paper on “better-than-average effect” retracted for being, well, worse than average

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pers soc psych bullPerhaps what Garrison Keillor says about people is also true of scientific papers:

Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

There’s been another retraction in social psychology, but before you lump it together with the field’s problem children — read: Diederik Stapel — it seems to be an example of researchers coming forward about an honest error.

Here’s the notice for “The Motivated Self: Self-Affirmation and the Better-Than-Average Effect,” originally published last year in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ivanoransky

August 21, 2013 at 9:30 am

A real shame: Psychology paper retracted when data behind problematic findings disappear

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sjdmThe corresponding author of a paper on whether “a sense of shame heightens the desire for money” has retracted it, he claims, after being unable to repeat his analysis to try to fix an issue in the study.

Here’s the notice for “Shame for money: Shame enhances the incentive value of economic resources,” which appeared in Judgment and Decision Making: Read the rest of this entry »

Third retraction appears for former Wash U neuroscience grad student who committed misconduct

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Adam Savine

Adam Savine

Five months after the Office of Research Integrity announced they had found evidence of misconduct by Adam Savine, a former Washington University graduate student in neuroscience, another journal has published a retraction of his work.

Here’s the retraction notice in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General for “A characterization of individual differences in prospective memory monitoring using the Complex Ongoing Serial Task”:
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ivanoransky

August 9, 2013 at 11:30 am


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