A journal has retracted the results of a clinical trial comparing strategies for bladder tumors after the authors mischaracterized the way patients were assigned to each procedure.
In addition, the journal European Urology has pulled a string of correspondence between author Harry Herr at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and an outside expert, who had questioned aspects of the study totally unrelated to the methodology, such as its generalizability.
The author of this paper has requested that it be retracted because of an incorrect representation of the study methodology. Contrary to the manuscript contents, patients were randomly assigned to narrow band or white light cystoscopy in the order of their attendance, rather than in a permuted block allocation. Patients were individually consented for the clinical procedures, but not to a prospective randomized clinical trial where randomization occurred by permuted block. An appropriate waiver was obtained from the Institutional Review Board to analyze and publish anonymized data from the clinical database.
The 2015 paper has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.
When the paper was published, it was accompanied by an editorial by Peter Black, a researcher listed at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The editorial (“Narrowing the Cystoscopy Gap”) didn’t appear to take issue with the study methodology — noting “randomization was perfect” — but instead questioned the extent of the study’s generalizability.
Black also criticized the trial for being underpowered, something the original paper also pointed out by failing to achieve a statistically meaningful result.
In the same issue, the journal published Herr’s response to Black’s editorial, entitled “A Better Transurethral Resection—Proved or Not!.”
Since the journal retracted the original paper, it decided to pull the correspondence related to it, as well. Here’s the retraction notice for Black’s editorial:
This editorial has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and the Author following the retraction of the original article (Eur Urol 67 (2015) 605, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2014.06.049) to which it refers. The author of this editorial was not involved in the original study referred to.
And here’s the retraction notice for Herr’s response:
This reply has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and the Author following the retraction of the original article (Eur Urol 67 (2015) 605, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2014.06.049).
When we emailed Black about why his editorial was retracted, he said it was standard procedure:
My editorial comment was retracted simply because an editorial comment linked to a retracted article is generally also retracted. It has nothing to do with the editorial itself, but rather the retracted manuscript.
We also emailed Herr and the journal but haven’t heard back.
Hat tip: Tansu Kucukoncu
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