Doing the right thing: Team finds data merge error in depression paper, retracts

bbicover114A team of neuroscientists from Sweden has retracted their 2013 paper in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity after discovering that they’d made a mistake while merging their data.

According to the abstract, the study, “Lower CSF interleukin-6 predicts future depression in a population-based sample of older women followed for 17 years,” purported to find that:

At baseline, women with ongoing depression had lower levels of IL-6 (p<0.04), IL-8 (p<0.05) and TNF-α (p<0.05) compared with those without depression. In women without depression at baseline, lower CSF IL-6 levels predicted depression at one or more follow-up examination (p<0.03). Results from the generalized linear mixed logistic model using all baseline and follow-up data on depression status and Mini Mental State Examination score showed a significant relationship between IL-6 and depression (p=0.005 OR 0.370 CI [0.184-0.744]).

Lower levels of CSF IL-6 were associated with current depression and with future depression during a follow-up of almost two decades. Our findings suggest that lower levels of CSF IL-6 may be related to depression vulnerability in later life.

But the retraction notice walks those claims back:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and Author.

The authors informed the journal that the merge of laboratory results and other survey data used in the paper resulted in an error regarding the identification codes. Results of the analyses were based on the data set in which this error occurred. Further analyses established the results reported in this manuscript and interpretation of the data are not correct. Based upon this new information, this manuscript is retracted.

Silke Kern, of The University of Gothenburg, and colleagues, doing the right thing. We applaud.

One thought on “Doing the right thing: Team finds data merge error in depression paper, retracts”

  1. For variety of reasons the Transparency Index could not really take-off, while Doing the Right Thing concept suggested at RW by me on August 17, 2012 at 10:06 am becomes increasingly popular. With a little bit of development this concept can become very useful for rewarding the good guys and exposing the bad guys, thus playing a positive role in maintaining clean the scientific records.
    This retraction is, by all means, something that the authors can be proud of. Bravo!
    May we come to a world where most retractions will be of this type!

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