The paper was retracted two years ago when BMC Research Notes discovered the authors falsely claimed they had obtained ethics approval from an institution in Kenya.
The study looked at the effectiveness of an antiretroviral therapy in 50 women who were receiving care at a center in Nairobi, Kenya. But the authors did not have permission from the center to use data from the women, nor the necessary ethics approval from Moi University to carry out the work.
This article has been retracted by the editors of BMC Research Notes because, contrary to the statement in the manuscript, Moi University Institutional Research and Ethics Committee (IREC) has confirmed that ethics approval was not obtained to conduct this study. In addition, the authors did not have permission to use data from the DREAM program.
Here’s what the paper — cited twice, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science — says about having ethics clearance from the university:
The study obtained ethical clearance from the Moi University Institutional Research and Ethics Committee (IREC), (Formal approval no.: FAN: IREC 000301). Supportive letter was obtained from the district health office before data collection, and written informed consent was obtained from voluntary participants and parents or guardians for children during data collection.
And here’s what the paper says about having clearance from the center where the women were receiving care:
All respective ethical clearance from DREAM centre was adhered to and considerations as pertaining confidentiality, beneficence and justice were followed and all the data collected was treated with anonymity.
In addition, the authors thank the DREAM Center in the acknowledgements:
We also thank the DREAM center grantsmanship office and the director laboratory and logistics affairs for providing logistical support, vital equipment, facilities and enabling environment. The respondents who participated in this study are also thanked for their cooperation.
We’ve also reached out to the authors. Though they are not affiliated with Moi University on the paper, they do appear to have ties to the school. First author Erastus K Ngemu is listed at the University of Eldoret, but appears to have been an undergraduate at Moi when the research was carried out, based on his LinkedIn profile. Last author Elijah Oyoo-Okoth is affiliated with Karatina University, and is a lecturer at Moi, according to his profile on ResearchGate. Co-author Christopher Khayeka–Wandabwa‘s affiliation on the paper is Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology; he lists Moi under the education section of his profile on LinkedIn.
This isn’t the first time that authors have lied about having ethics approval — in another, more recent example, a journal pulled a 2009 paper about the relationship between obesity and depression in cultures where fat isn’t stigmatized, after realizing the authors didn’t obtain the approvals they claimed.
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