Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘public health/safety’ Category

What should journals do when peer reviewers do not disclose potential conflicts?

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Peer reviewers, like authors, are supposed to declare any potential conflicts of interest. But what happens when they don’t?

Take this case: In a court transcript from Feb. 23, 2017, Bryan Hardin testified that he was a peer reviewer on a 2016 paper in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, which found that asbestos does not increase the risk of cancer. In the deposition, Hardin—who works at the consulting firm Veritox—also said that he has testified in asbestos litigation on behalf of automakers, such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, but said he had not disclosed these relationships to the journal.

Last year, the first author of the 2016 review withdrew a paper from another journal (by the same publisher) which concluded asbestos roofing products are safe, following several criticisms — including not disclosing the approving editor’s ties to the asbestos industry. In this latest case, the journal told us it believes the review process for the paper was up to snuff, but two outside experts we consulted said they believed Hardin’s relationships — and failure to disclose them — should give the journal pause.

We obtained a copy of the transcript from Christian Hartley, who was representing a man suing a mining company because the man developed cancer after being exposed to asbestos at work. When Hartley asked Hardin whether he had told the journal about testifying for companies involved in asbestos litigation, Hardin responded:

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Plagiarism costs author five papers in five different journals

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An engineering researcher has written about models tackling a range of complex issues — security problems in Iraq, poverty in Europe, and emergency responses to humanitarian crises. But there may be some limits to his expertise: Between 2016 and 2017, five journals have retracted five of his papers, citing plagiarism.

Some of the notices describe the plagiarism as “extensive,” “significant,” and “substantial.” One journal editor, who retracted one of Kubilay Kaptan’s papers last year, told us the paper “was simply a direct copy from an existing one.”

The editor noted that Kaptan — who lists his affiliation as the Civil Engineering Department at Beykent University in Istanbul — claimed to be “the victim of a personal smear campaign, which involved submitting plagiarised manuscripts in his name.” We reached out to Kaptan several times by phone and email to verify this claim, but did not hear back.

Here’s the most recent retraction, for a 2016 paper published in Journal of Refugee Studies  Read the rest of this entry »

Battle between public health journal and editorial board wages on

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Past and present members of the editorial board of a public health journal have filed a formal complaint against the publisher after it appointed an editor with industry ties without consulting the board, and unilaterally retracted a paper by the former editor.

Meanwhile, the board and publisher of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health continue to exchange letters about the issue; the latest from the publisher, Taylor & Francis, answers some of the board’s ongoing questions — and declines to answer others.

For instance, managing director Ian Bannerman previously told the board that the publisher “reached out to” editorial board member Jukka Takala of the Workplace Safety and Health Institute in Singapore (by phone and email) before contacting new editor Andrew Maier. Takala told us last month, however, he was “never consulted on Dr. Maier.” In a letter dated May 25, Bannerman told the board:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 6th, 2017 at 9:30 am

BMJ journal yanks paper on cancer screening in India for fear of legal action

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BMJ Global Health has pulled a paper that criticized U.S. research of the effects of cervical cancer screening in India over defamation concerns.

That’s not what the notice on the paper says, however — at the moment, it just reads:

This article has been withdrawn.

However, forwarded email correspondence between the first author and an associate publisher reveals the journal published the paper and planned a press release, then realized it should be reviewed by a legal adviser. When first author Eric J. Suba at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center inquired about the status of the paper and any potential press release, he was told the journal could no longer publish it, out of concern they would be taken to court.

Suba told us that, when he learned the paper would be pulled:

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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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Publisher responds to public health journal editorial board’s “grave concerns”

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A representative of Taylor & Francis has responded to concerns raised by former and current editorial board members of an occupational health journal, after the publisher took some significant actions without consulting the board.

The board’s main concerns: That the publisher hired a new editor with industry ties, and withdrew a paper by the former editor that was critical of corporate-sponsored research.

In a letter to the editorial board of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health dated last week, managing director Ian Bannerman writes:

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Written by Alison McCook

May 12th, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Despite author’s protest, journal removes paper on emergency department prices

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A journal has temporarily removed a paper showing the dramatic differences in the cost of providing emergency care that caught national attention (and some criticism from emergency care providers), despite the first author’s claims that the results are valid.

The paper, published online in February by the Annals of Emergency Medicine, showed that it can cost significantly more for patients to be treated at emergency departments than at urgent care centers, even for the same conditions. Soon after the paper was published, first author Vivian Ho at Rice University was told by the American College of Emergency Physicians, which publishes the journal, that there were some errors in the appendix, and they wanted to reanalyze the entire paper.

Ho told us:

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Updated: Vaccine-autism study retracted — again

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For the second time, a journal has quickly retracted a study that suggested vaccines raise the risk of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

The study first raised a furor last year, prompting a Frontiers journal to quickly retract it. After it was republished in the Journal of Translational Science this month, that journal has also retracted it.

Although the titles of the two papers changed, the abstracts were nearly identical. Both studies surveyed the parents of 666 home-schooled children, 39% of whom where not vaccinated, and concluded that vaccination increased the risk of neurodevelopmental problems, particularly if children were born prematurely.

A representative of the Journal of Translational Science told us “Pilot comparative study on the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated 6- to 12-year-old U.S. children” has been retracted, and it will update us with an explanation.

Here’s more from the (now-retracted) abstract:

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Public health journal’s editorial board tells publisher they have “grave concerns” over new editor

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First, an occupational health journal appointed a new editor with industry ties without consulting the editorial board. Then, with no explanation, it withdrew a paper by the previous editor that was critical of corporate-sponsored research — again, without consulting the editorial board.

At that point, they’d had enough.

Yesterday, the editorial board of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health sent a letter to the publisher, Taylor & Francis, expressing their “grave concerns” over the future of the journal, and its recent actions.

As part of the letter — signed by 30 past and present editorial members and the founding editor — they write:

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Written by Alison McCook

April 27th, 2017 at 9:30 am

If you use this research tool without permission, you’ll hear about it

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Sometimes, a seemingly run-of-the-mill retraction notice turns out to be much less straightforward.

Such was the case with a recent retraction of a 2016 paper in a journal published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, apparently over permission to use an evaluation scale designed to test whether patients take their medications as prescribed. But when we looked into this story, we learned this retraction was only the tip of the iceberg – a representative of the evaluation scale (titled “Chief Investigator”) told us he has contacted hundreds of so-called “infringers” over the last year who used the scale without permission. The authors must then apply retroactively and show they’ve used it correctly, and may even have to pay fees. Or, in the case of the retraction we saw (and at least one other in 2016), pull the paper.

According to the chief investigator, Steve Trubow, who oversees licensing and use of the scale worldwide, for some uses, there is no fee – but depending on what the researchers are using the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS-8) for, it can cost up to $100,000. Once they’ve used it without permission, there are fees for that, too, Trubow told us:

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