Unusual: Journal withdraws Expression of Concern about child development paper

child devIn December, the journal Child Development posted an Expression of Concern about a study because of “possible inaccuracies in its data.” A few months later, however, that changed. Here’s what now appears where the Expression of Concern did:

“A Moderated Mediation Model: Racial Discrimination, Coping Strategies, and Racial Identity Among Black Adolescents” by Seaton, E. K., Upton, R., Gilbert, A. and Volpe, V.

Update (February 12, 2014):

The journal Editor in Chief, the Society for Research in Child Development, Wiley Periodicals, Inc., and the authors have withdrawn the Expression of Concern, with no corrections or addendums to the article needed. After a full investigation, no problems with the data were found and the article stands as originally published.

Original Expression of Concern (published December 9, 2013):

The above article, published online in Child Development on May 13, 2013 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), is currently under review for possible inaccuracies in its data, as agreed by the authors, the journal Editor in Chief, the Society for Research in Child Development and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. An update will be provided once the review is complete.

Expressions of Concern sometimes turn into retractions, and we’ve even seen a retraction downgraded to an Expression of Concern. But removals of Expressions of Concern seem to be few and far between. Here’s one in the New England Journal of Medicine from 2003. The same journal reaffirmed another one in 2006.

Here’s some of what the Committee on Publication Ethics has to say about Expressions of Concern:

If more conclusive evidence about the publication’s reliability becomes available later the expression of concern should be replaced by a notice of retraction (if the article is shown to be unreliable) or by an exonerating statement linked to the expression of concern (if the article is shown to be reliable and the author exonerated).

In other words, Child Development should get points for follow-through.

Hoping to find out more about the circumstances of the Expression of Concern and the withdrawal, we contacted the University of North Carolina’s Eleanor Seaton, the corresponding author of the paper, and Jeffrey Lockman, the journal’s editor. We’ll update this post with anything we learn.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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