Archive for the ‘doing the right thing’ Category
A diabetes paper that received quite a bit of media attention when it was published in June 2013 was retracted and reissued to fix data errors shortly after publication.
The paper, which showed a steep decline in mortality rates for diabetics in Ontario, Canada, and the UK between 1996 and 2009, was republished in December 2013, with the same conclusion and the errors corrected.
To get to that, though, we had to make it through what turns out to be an unnecessarily vague retraction notice (more on that in a moment) in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition:
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A stumble in data preparation earned a retraction for a paper on delirium tremens, a life-threatening side effect of alcohol withdrawal that spans a wide range of symptoms, including hallucinations and seizures.
Though the initial retraction notice was extremely unhelpful, the author stepped in to give us a better picture of the errors that led to the paper’s demise.
Here’s the notice from Alcohol and Alcoholism about “Biochemical Predictors of Delirium Tremens in Patients in Alcohol Withdrawal”:
This one seems like an honest mistake: a paper on dietary supplements during pregnancy has been retracted based on an error in data recording.
In the BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth paper, “Folic acid supplementation, dietary folate intake during pregnancy and risk for spontaneous preterm delivery: a prospective observational cohort study,” women for whom the researchers had no data on folic acid supplementation were classified as taking no supplements. Despite the error, the authors claim the overall conclusion remains the same: taking folic acid supplements didn’t protect women from preterm deliveries.
We came across a rather long-toothed retraction in the Journal of the American Statistical Association, which represents a case of doing the right thing (similar to that involving the apparent first-ever English language retraction from 1756, about which we wrote in 2012).
The 1927 notice came in the form of a letter by C. H. Whelden Jr., who was for a time the chief statistician for the American National Red Cross, referencing his 1926 article in the JASA,”The Trend-Seasonal Normal in Time Series:”