Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Should we change our name to Mori Watch? Yet another retraction from cancer researcher

without comments

Earlier this week we reported on the latest retraction of an article by Naoki Mori, number 21 in a series. We could have waited a few days and saved ourselves some trouble.

The journal Leukemia Research has retracted a 2006 paper by Mori, titled “Curcumin suppresses constitutive activation of AP-1 by downregulation of JunD protein in HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines.” From the notice, which is behind a paywall: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

July 22nd, 2011 at 12:27 pm

So how often does medical consensus turn out to be wrong?

with 8 comments

In a quote that has become part of medical school orientations everywhere, David Sackett, often referred to as the “father of evidence-based medicine,” once famously said

Half of what you’ll learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of your graduation; the trouble is that nobody can tell you which half–so the most important thing to learn is how to learn on your own.

Sackett, we are fairly sure, was making an intentionally wild estimate when he said “half.” [See note about these strikethroughs at bottom of post.]  But aA fascinating study out today in the Archives of Internal Medicine gives a clue as to the real figuresuggests that he may have been closer than any of us imagined. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 11th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Unprecedented? Journal yanks transcendental meditation paper 12 minutes before it’s scheduled to publish

with 6 comments

There’s a highly unusual situation brewing at the Archives of Internal Medicine. At 3:48 Eastern time on Monday, 12 minutes before the embargo lifted on the June 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the following message went out from its press office:

The editorial office of the Archives of Internal Medicine has made the decision not to publish,  “Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation and Health Education in African Americans,” by Schneider et al, and the accompanying Commentary by Mehta and Bairey Merz that was to post Online First at 3 PM central time today.

The decision is to allow time for review and statistical analysis of additional data not included in the original paper that the authors provided less than 24 hours before posting.  We apologize for the short notice, but hope you will understand and not run your stories on this study today.

We asked Archives of Internal Medicine editor Rita Redberg when the paper might be published: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 29th, 2011 at 8:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

So when is a retraction warranted? The long and winding road to publishing a failure to replicate

with 29 comments

Sometime in 2009, the University of Nottingham’s Uwe Vinkemeier thought something was wrong with two papers he read in Genes & Development, one from 2006 and one from 2009. The papers claimed to show how changes to a protein called STAT1 affect programmed cell death. So he did what scientists are supposed to do: He tried to repeat the experiments, to replicate the results.

He couldn’t.

So he submitted the results to G&D, which was initially willing to publish the data along with a rebuttal by the original authors. But everyone seemed to be dragging their feet. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 3rd, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Idea retraction: Did Picasso suffer migraines? Do ‘guitar nipple,’ ‘cello scrotum’ exist? Ask pigeons

with one comment

Pablo Picasso, 1962, via Wikimedia

Cephalalgia published a lovely piece online this month. The abstract is a refreshing bit of honesty:

It is widely believed that Pablo Picasso suffered from migraine. The main cause for this is our suggestion made 10 years ago that some of Picasso’s paintings resemble migraine auras. Here we critically look back at our own hypothesis. We conclude that, although the idea is still fascinating, there is no proof of Picasso suffering from migraine with aura.

In other words, say authors Michel Ferrari and Joost Haan: Go ahead, blame us for this important clinical finding, which we first described in an editorial in Cephalalgia in 2000. We’re retracting the idea, but not before we have some fun with it.

So we figured we’d do the same.

The authors describe a number of famous cases of historical diagnoses such as Hildegard of Bingen, an abbess and mystic of the 12th century whose work has led some to suggest she was a migraneur. It’s difficult to confirm such diagnoses, of course, and the authors draw a parallel to other pronouncements by doctors: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 27th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

We wrote what? The problem of forged authorship. Plus, a guest appearance on MedPage Today

without comments

At a time when you can set up a Google alert to find out when your name appears anywhere on the Web — not that we’d know, of course — it puzzles us that some researchers are trying to get away with using others’ names on papers without their knowledge.

But they’re not just trying. Our recent experience suggests they’re actually getting away with it and seeing those papers in print. We’ve found at least six cases of that in the past few months. Of course, some eventually get caught.

We’d like to see journals taking a more vaccine-like approach to this problem. That’s the subject of our new column in Lab Times, where we’re now regular contributors. Excerpt: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 12th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

How journal editors can detect and deter scientific misconduct

with 9 comments

Misconduct happens. So what can journal editors do find and prevent it?

While we don’t claim to be experts in working on the other side of the fence — eg as editors — Ivan was flattered to be asked by session organizers at the Council of Science Editors to appear on a panel on the subject. He was joined on the panel by:

Their presentations were chock-full of good tips and data. Bradford, for example, said that Science had published 45 retractions since 1997. And Laine recommended copying all of a manuscript’s authors on every communication, which could help prevent author forgery that seems to be creeping into the literature.

So we hope their slides will be online soon. In the meantime, Ivan’s slides are here (scroll down a bit so that the entire first slide, and navigation, are visible below the CSE banner): Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 2nd, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Roundup: A new record? And paper retracts story about Canadian Paxil researcher-turned pol Kutcher

with one comment

We’ve both been at conferences — Adam at the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists in Savannah, and Ivan at the Council of Science Editors in Baltimore, where he’ll be on a panel today about finding fraud — so we haven’t had a lot of time to run down retractions. But there were a few retraction-related developments in the past few days that we wanted to highlight for Retraction Watch readers:

First, another great investigation by The Cancer Letter and The New York Times, this one into the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) run by Claudia Henschke and David Yankelevitz. The design and conclusions of that trial has been criticized by other pulmonologists.

The new investigation, however, reveals that an October 2008 review of the study found that the researchers couldn’t find 90 percent of the subjects’ consent forms. That, The Cancer Letter notes, could mean a huge number of retractions that could displace Joachim Boldt as the current record holder: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 2nd, 2011 at 9:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

More details emerge on ScienceBlogs-National Geographic deal

with 22 comments

Yesterday, we reported that National Geographic had bought ScienceBlogs. We’ve now obtained a recording of a conference call between various members of National Geographic senior management, ScienceBlogs management, and ScienceBloggers — aka Sciblings — that adds some details.

What we’ve learned is that Nat Geo plans to assume control of operations, editorial content, and ad sales by June 1 of this year. And while a post from PZ Myers post said “basically, we’ve been bought,” and we had further confirmation last night of the contents of yesterday’s post from someone familiar with the situation, we want to make sure to point out, high up, that one of the first things that SEED CFO and vice president of finance and operation’s Vera Scavcic said on the call was that SEED would maintain ownership: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 26th, 2011 at 8:50 am

So who bought ScienceBlogs? Retraction Watch exclusive: National Geographic

with 6 comments

This afternoon, PZ Myers, of the wildly popular Pharyngula blog on ScienceBlogs, started a post with a few lines that set science writers on Twitter abuzz:

I have news. Scienceblogs is going to be folded into a new organization sometime soon — basically, we’ve been bought. I can’t discuss all of the details just yet, but let’s just say it is a prestigious national magazine with a healthy bottom line that will do us a lot of good.

Retraction Watch has learned, from a source familiar with the negotiations, that the buyer is National Geographic. We don’t have any details at this point, and Nat Geo has not returned a request for comment [see update at end], but we are confident in reporting this.

Readers may recall PepsiGate, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 25th, 2011 at 5:58 pm