Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Where was chem research conducted? Not here, say two of three listed author affiliations

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ChemosphereA researcher has retracted two 2016 papers after discovering problems with the data that negated the findings — and after one of his three listed affiliations denied the research was conducted there.

According to the retraction notices issued by Chemosphere, Hong-Wei Luo incorrectly claimed to be affiliated with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee in one of his three affiliations. His other institutions listed on the papers include universities in Singapore and China.

However, an official from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, told us the work in the now-retracted papers was not carried out at the NTU either.

Here’s the first of the retraction notices, issued on August 8: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 18th, 2016 at 9:30 am

UK tribunal orders release of data from controversial chronic fatigue syndrome study

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court caseA tribunal in the UK has rejected an appeal by Queen Mary University of London, who sought to reverse a previous order that they release data from a controversial 2011 paper in The Lancet about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

The decision is one in a long series of judgments about the so-called PACE trial, which reported that two treatments — known as cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy — helped alleviate the symptoms of the condition. But ever since The Lancet article and follow-up papers have been published, patients and critics have questioned the conclusions and clamored to see the raw data.

The main criticisms: The findings may prompt some to believe chronic fatigue is a mental, not a physical, disorder, and the PACE program could actually be harmful to patients by encouraging too much exercise. These criticisms were recently bolstered by a re-analysis of the evidence by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which downgraded its original conclusions about the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy.

In March 2014,  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

August 17th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Doing the right thing: Authors pull psych review after finding inaccuracies

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Two psychology researchers are retracting a meta-analysis after discovering errors they believe may affect the conclusions.

We’re giving this a “doing the right thing” nod, as last author Pankaj Patel of Villanova University in Pennsylvania contacted us about his plan to retract the paper, and resubmit for publication once he and co-author Sherry Thatcher — at the University of South Carolina — have performed all their recalculations.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Demographic faultlines: A meta-analysis of the literature,” published in the Journal of Applied Psychology: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael Koziol

August 17th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Should systematic reviewers report suspected misconduct?

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BMJ Open

Authors of systematic review articles sometimes overlook misconduct and conflicts of interest present in the research they are analyzing, according to a recent study published in BMJ Open.

During the study, researchers reviewed 118 systematic reviews published in 2013 in four high-profile medical journals — Annals of Internal Medicine, the British Medical Journal, The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet. In addition, the authors contacted review authors to ask additional questions; 80 (69%) responded. The review included whether the authors had followed certain procedures to ensure the integrity of the data they were compiling, such as checking for duplicate publications, and analyzing if the authors’ conflicts of interest may have impacted the findings. 

Carrying out a systematic review involves collecting and critically analyzing multiple studies in the same area. It’s especially useful for accumulating and weighing conflicting or supporting evidence by multiple research groups. A byproduct of the process is that it can also help spot odd practices such duplication of publicationsRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 16th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Researcher in Brazil earns 12th retraction for recycling text and figures

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Thermochimica ActaA scientist in Brazil has gained his twelfth retraction for reusing text and figures from previously published papers.

In 2011, Elsevier announced that it would retract 11 papers by Claudio Airoldi, a researcher at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. Subsequently, he was suspended for 45 days, and his co-author on the 11 previously pulled papers, Denis de Jesus Lima Guerra, lost his post at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (also in Brazil).

Now, a 12th retraction has appeared for Airoldi — this time in Thermochimica Acta.

Here’s the latest retraction notice, issued earlier this year: Read the rest of this entry »

We’re blinded by positive results. So what if we removed them?

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Mike Findley

Mike Findley

The problem of publication bias — giving higher marks to a paper that reports positive results rather than judging it on its design or methods — plagues the scientific literature. So if reviewers are too focused on the results of a paper, would stripping a paper of its findings solve the problem? That was the question explored in a recent experiment by guest editors of Comparative Political Studies. Mike Findley, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the guest editors of the journal, talked to us about a new paper explaining what they learned.

Retraction Watch: Can you explain what a “results-free” paper looks and reads like? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 15th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Journal blacklists authors for plagiarizing case report about hypersexuality in dementia

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Advances in Human BiologyA biology journal has blacklisted authors from publishing their work after finding their case report about a dementia patient with hypersexuality was plagiarized from a previously published report.

The retraction notice, issued by Advances in Human Biology (AIHB) in June, recognizes the case as “scientific misconduct.” The journal launched an investigation after the plagiarism was flagged by the author of the original report, the editor-in-chief of the journal told us. Eventually, the journal retracted the report — and removed it entirely from their website.

Additionally, the journal posted this notice on their site, blacklisting the authors from publishing in AIHB again: Read the rest of this entry »

Judges toss lawsuits by CrossFit gym claiming fraud in $273 million in grants

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court caseFederal judges in Ohio have dismissed two lawsuits claiming that university researchers used false results to secure more than $250 million in federal grants.

Both lawsuits, which objected to a study examining the effects of CrossFit-based training, were filed by Mitchell Potterf, the owner of a gym affiliated with CrossFit in Columbus, Ohio. Potterf took issue with a 2013 study by researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) that was conducted at his gym.

Potterf filed one suit against the OSU researchers and a second against the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NCSA). The NSCA publishes the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, where a paper about the study appeared. The article, “Crossfit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition,” has been cited 15 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

The study followed 43 men and women as they completed 10 weeks of CrossFit-based training. In addition to those 43 participants, 11 dropped out before completing the regimen. According to the original paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael Koziol

August 15th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Weekend reads: Manuscript submission headaches; Trophy Generation goes to grad school; is science fucked?

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Written by Ivan Oransky

August 13th, 2016 at 9:59 am

Posted in weekend reads

Researcher notches fourth retraction, has left university

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Plant Ecology

A researcher with four retracted papers has left his former institution in Malaysia, according to an official at the university.

In March, we reported on the retractions of two studies in Environmental Geochemistry and Health co-authored by Muhammad Aqeel Ashraf. Both papers were pulled citing a “compromised” peer review process. The now-retracted work was carried out at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Ashraf was previously based.

However, Ashraf later moved to University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; but now, according to an official at the institution, Ashraf is no longer based at UMS after “suspicion” arose into his work.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

August 12th, 2016 at 11:30 am