Rheumatology retracts lupus-cancer meta-analysis over multiple errors

Rheumatology has retracted a 2011 paper with too many errors to correct.

According to the notice, the article, titled “Meta-analysis of systemic lupus erythematosus and the risk of cervical neoplasia’, by Hongli Liu and colleagues at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, seems to have been deeply flawed:

We regret to retract the article ‘Meta-analysis of systemic lupus erythematosus and the risk of cervical neoplasia’ because:

Errors were identified in the publication involving several parts of the study including extraction of data, statistical analyses and interpretation of results.

Cervical neoplasia should have been interpreted as abnormal pap smears.

Unfortunately, such extensive changes cannot be addressed in a corrigendum and warrant a new manuscript. It is important to note that this is not considered to be scientific misconduct, but rather an honest error by authors.

We regret any problems that this article may have caused and retract it from the literature.

Prof. Robert Moots, Editor on behalf of the Journal

Dr Hongli Liu, corresponding author on behalf of the authors

According to the abstract of the paper, which looked at seven previous articles:

This meta-analysis demonstrates the positive association between SLE and cervical neoplasia risk. Individuals with SLE have a heightened risk of developing cervical cancer.

It has been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The notice certainly raises a few questions. Who identified the errors in the publication and when? And why weren’t these problems caught during the review process?

We emailed Moots, but his office responded that it could not immediately supply answer to our queries. Depending on when and what we eventually hear, we’ll update this post.

Update, 1:40 p.m. Eastern, 3/30/12: Please see this update with comments from Moots.

Hat tip: Clare Francis. Disclosure: One of us (AM) edits a publication called Rheumatology Practice News Special Edition that competes with Rheumatology.

0 thoughts on “Rheumatology retracts lupus-cancer meta-analysis over multiple errors”

  1. Please also check out this article
    Cheung LK, Chua HD. A meta-analysis of cleft maxillary osteotomy and distraction osteogenesis. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2006 Jan;35(1):14-24.

    I have pointed out to the publisher in detail that this article is not a real meta-analysis but a normal literature review. However, the journal does not want to retract this paper. Incidentally the current editor of this journal works in the same department of the lead author of this paper (The lead author is the Chair of this department)

  2. Yes, I also think the paper by Cheung et al is not a proper meta-analysis. Why do journals keep publishing this type of articles with out proper peer-review?

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