Joachim Boldt retraction tally drops by one, editors say (but record’s still safe)

As the news of Joachim Boldt’s staggering number of retractions leaps from Retraction Watch into the mainstream press, the consortium of journal editors retracting his studies has backtracked ever so slightly, announcing today that one of the 89 studies for which the German anesthesiologist lacked ethics approval in fact had such sanction.

According to the now-16 (Updated 3/7/11, as it is up from 11 several days ago) editors, LÄK-RLP,  the German body investigating the ethics component of the Boldt case:

has verified IRB approval for Boldt J, Schöllhorn T, Münchbach J, Pabsdorf M. A total balanced volume replacement strategy using a new balanced hydroxyethyl starch preparation (6% HES 130/0.42) in patients undergoing major abdominal surgery. Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2007;24:267-75. This article was moved from table 1 (articles without documented IRB approval) to table 2 (articles with  documented IRB approval).

The study received funding from B. Braun, which makes the HES product in the trial. Steve Shafer, editor-in-chief of Anesthesia & Analgesia, who is the de facto leader of the journal group, told us that the mix-up came about because

LÄK-RLP didn’t match the IRB approval on file to the article in question because the title of the article was different than the title of the approved study, the investigators studied fewer patients than permitted / requested in the IRB information, and the article stated that the study had been approved by the Ethics Committee of the hospital, which does not exist. These are technicalities that are of no consequence.

The consortium released an amended list of retractions, which is available here. Officially, there are now 88, including one from October. That’s still a record, beating the apparent previous record holder, Jon Darsee, who has 82.

For those trying to keep score at home on all this, we have this word of caution: the number of retracted papers that carry Boldt’s name is staggeringly high and likely to grow — but it’s also something of a moving target day-to-day. We’ll do our best to keep on top of the changes.

There’s a separate inquiry into the integrity of his research that has not issued its findings  yet.

3 thoughts on “Joachim Boldt retraction tally drops by one, editors say (but record’s still safe)”

  1. Adam, we all have complete faith in you and Ivan being able to stay on top of this 🙂

    I wish I could say it was a momentous day in research history. It is, but for all the wrong resons

  2. It is a momentous day in research history. We got closer to the truth. Science is thought to progress by ruling out what is not correct. Something along these lines has happened with the 89 (or is it 88?) retractions.

    Retraction Watch does science a service by letting the wider world know what is going on, and thereby holding authors and editors accountable. When the authors of retractions, and editors of the journals in which the retractions appeared, do not answer questions the silence speaks volumes. I believe that Retraction watch may stop a lot of backtracking. Often people in authority would rather keep quiet to avoid embarrassment and charges of incompetency , or worse. They hope that after a few months everybody will have forgotten the incident, and they can continue with managerialism (they for sure will not be working in the lab), when in fact critical analysis and science is called for.

    ” Science progresses one funeral at a time”, Max Planck talking about physics, but now it can be more rapid.

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