On Wednesday, we reported that a month after media reports of undisclosed conflicts of interest by top brass at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a researcher there had corrected two papers to include financial conflicts of interest.
Brian Wansink, the Cornell food marketing researcher who announced his resignation yesterday and has been found to have committed misconduct by the university, admits to mistakes and poor record-keeping in a statement released today.
A day after the JAMA family of journals retracted six of his studies, Cornell food marketing researcher Brian Wansink tells Retraction Watch that he will be retiring next year.
And Cornell said today that it found that Wansink “committed academic misconduct in his research and scholarship, including misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.”
[See an update with a new statement by Wansink here.]
Brian Wansink, the much-beleaguered food marketing researcher at Cornell whose work has fallen under intense scrutiny, has just had six more papers retracted, all from the JAMA family of journals.
[See an update on this post; Wansink has resigned, and Cornell has found that he “committed academic misconduct.”]
JAMA warned readers about the six studies in April, by subjecting them all to expressions of concern, and followed up with print notices in May. Howard Bauchner, editor in chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network journals, told us at the time,
Given the large number of retractions of articles with Dr. Wansink as an author there is uncertainty that the results of his publications are valid.
Less than two weeks ago, PLOS ONE published a paper about the parents of teenagers who appeared to immediately start questioning their gender identity around the time of puberty. Then the critiques flooded in.
The paper — about a highly contentious issue — surveyed parents who felt that their children had suddenly started to question their gender identity around the time of puberty, prompting author Lisa Littman at Brown University to coin a new phenomenon as “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” Any discussion of transgender identity in young children can get politicized, and this paper was no exception.
Earlier this year, The Advocate, a publication focused on LGBT issues, published a commentary titled “‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’” is biased junk science,” after the Journal for Adolescent Health published one of Littman’s poster abstracts. According the Advocate:
The original paper was covered by many news outlets — including Reuters and the New York Times — some of which suggested the procedure may help with more than just vision (even though the study, by its nature, couldn’t determine whether or not surgery caused women to live longer). Annette Flanagin, the Executive Managing Editor for The JAMA Network, told us the publisher tried to get the word out about the significant change to the findings:
A 2017 paper, when originally published, had a fairly clear message: People who got the flu vaccine every year were no less protected than someone who had skipped last year’s dose. But now that it’s been retracted, the picture is somewhat less clear.
The retraction notice in BMC Medicine doesn’t provide much information — it simply says the authors included and omitted some information that affects the conclusions.
Last author Bryna Warshawsky, the medical director of communicable diseases at Public Health Ontario in Canada, provided some additional explanation to Retraction Watch — namely, that after addressing errors in the analysis, the researchers found that there were actually slight differences; specifically, for some strains of the flu, the new analysis suggests that the flu shot was slightly more effective in people who’d skipped last year’s dose.
Warshawsky told Retraction Watch she and her team have submitted the corrected paper to the journal, and the bottom line message stays the same:
Retraction Watch (RW): Why do you think it’s important for journals to provide a reason for retraction?
Evelyne Decullier & Hervé Maisonneuve (ED and HM): Correcting the literature is key for ensuring the quality of data and that the scientific method is respected. Readers should at least be able to differentiate retractions for honest errors from retractions for fraud or plagiarism.