Eleven scientists are asking a journal to consider retracting an asbestos paper with industry ties for including “seriously misleading information,” “several wrong statements,” and thrice citing a journal that doesn’t appear to exist.
Editors of the journal, Epidemiology Biostatistics and Public Health, however, say they will not retract the article, based on the advice of two external reviewers.
An earlier correction for the paper, “Further Studies of Bolivian Crocidolite – Part IV: Fibre Width, Fibre Drift and their relation to Mesothelioma Induction: Preliminary Findings,” cited previously undisclosed competing interests for four of the paper’s five authors.
Earlier this year, scientists criticized “gross mistakes” in another paper from three of the same authors: Edward Ilgren, Yumi Kamiya, and John Hoskins. EBPH subsequently issued two corrections but did not retract that paper. Read our full coverage here.
Ilgren et al referred to unpublished reports (refs 2, 4, 9 in 1) that are referenced as ‘On line first’ but cannot be accessed as that scientific journal does not exist.
The journal cited is the Annals of Respiratory Medicine. We found all three “unpublished reports” uploaded by the authors on ResearchGate—here, here, and here—yet the web address for the journal is defunct, and none of the articles, supposedly published in 2012, have doi, issue, or volume numbers.
The letter to the editor also notes “contradictory statements” in the paper; an explanation about cancer occurrence in a region of Italy that Magnani et al. say “is not supported by reliable data;” and
the use of unclear statements difficult to understand and to contradict.
In a response to the letter, EBPH’s editors-in-chief, Stefania Boccia and Carlo La Vecchia note they asked two external reviewers to review the paper and decided not to retract it. Here is the full text of their response:
We considered the request by Magnani et al. to retract the article by Ilgren et al., and we asked the advice of two external reviewers. The reviewers considered the guidelines put forward by COPE (COmmittee on Publication Ethics) on the retraction guidelines of scientific articles and concluded that the conditions were not met in this case, a conclusion we agree with.
We have reached out to Hoskins to respond to the criticisms, and will update if we hear back.
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