Last week, JAMA issued some unusual notices, letting readers know they should use caution when reading an editorial and letters associated with now-retracted articles by a bone researcher in Japan.
The notices — for papers by Yoshihiro Sato, now up to 14 retractions — remind readers not to heed the results of the now-retracted papers, and alert them to read any associated materials (specifically, an editorial in JAMA and letters in JAMA Internal Medicine) with caution.
The text of the notices describes them as “formal correction notices;” we asked Annette Flanagin, executive managing editor at The JAMA Network, why they chose that approach, instead of an expression of concern or retraction:
We do not wish to penalize authors of such Letters or opinion pieces by retracting them.
The three papers were retracted last year, in June. We asked why the publisher waited more than a year to alert readers about the associated writings:
This is the first time we have used this method to alert readers in this way. We have been thinking about how best to do this for some time. These corrections are related the last retractions that we have published. We plan to use this approach going forward in the event of a future retraction.
Flanagin said she hadn’t seen other journals issue similar notices in the past, but “that does not mean it hasn’t happened:”
I reviewed the retraction policies of ICMJE, CSE, and COPE and didn’t see any guidance on how to handle these types of articles related to retracted articles that were published before the retraction notice. Those policies do comment on assessing the validity of previously published work by the author(s) of retracted articles, but that is different. I expect that we may add guidance on the articles related to retracted articles that were published before the retraction notice to the next edition of the AMA Manual of Style, which is under revision, if we see that this solution works.
Here’s the text of the notice for the materials associated with the JAMA paper:
The Preliminary Communication “Effect of Folate and Mecobalamin on Hip Fractures in Patients With Stroke: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” was retracted on June 3, 2016. An Editorial and Letter were written to comment on the originally published article and were published before the Retraction notice. This formal Correction notice is being published to alert readers and remind them not to rely on the subsequently retracted article.
The JAMA editorial “Homocysteine and fracture prevention” has been cited 11 times since it was published in 2005, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science; the most recent citation appeared in 2016. The letter “Inaccurate description of collaborating hospitals in a study of the effect of folate and mecobalamin on hip fractures after stroke,” co-authored by Sato, was cited six times since 2006; the last citation occurred in 2012.
And here’s the text for the notice accompanying the articles in JAMA Internal Medicine:
Two Original Investigations, “The Prevention of Hip Fracture With Risedronate and Ergocalciferol Plus Calcium Supplementation in Elderly Women With Alzheimer Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” and “Risedronate Sodium Therapy for Prevention of Hip Fracture in Men 65 Years or Older After Stroke,” were retracted on June 3, 2016. A series of Letters were written to comment on the originally published articles and were published before the Retraction notice. This formal Correction notice is published to alert readers and remind them to not rely on the subsequently retracted articles.
The letter “Prevention of hip fracture in elderly women with Alzheimer disease,” in Archives of Internal Medicine, was cited once in 2012. “Prevention of hip fracture in elderly women with Alzheimer disease—reply,” co-authored by Sato, has not yet been cited. “Risedronate for the prevention of hip fractures: concern about validity of trials” was cited four times since 2007, the last in 2016; Sato’s reply was cited once, in 2011.
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