The mystery of the mistaken retraction is solved — sort of

We finally have some clarity on the case of the erroneous retraction over at the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

Last week, we reported that the journal, and its publisher, Springer Nature, were having some trouble with a retracted presentation from a 2017 cancer meeting. Turns out, the issue involved crossed wires for similar articles in the journal by the same trio of researchers.

Elizabeth Hawkins, a spokeswoman for Springer Nature, told us:

The institute of the authors of the abstract “Hayes M, Bloomquist E, Wright H. SAVI SCOUT RADAR – A Non-Wire Non-Radioactive Localization Device Can Be Used for Axillary Lymph Node Surgery” requested for this abstract to be retracted because it hadn’t been through the necessary ethical approval. Authors agreed and approved the appropriate wording of this retraction.

The PDF version of this abstract showed the retraction correctly.

However, there was an error with the HTML file which showed that a different abstract by the same group of authors had been retracted “Hayes M, Bloomquist E, Wright H. SCOUT RADAR localization improves breast surgery operating room start times compared with wire localization.”

The discrepancy between the HTML and PDF version has now been corrected.

When we first reported the story, we contacted the company that sells the SCOUT RADAR tool, Cianna Medical, about the article which was retracted by mistake. Our initial goal was to explore the duties of companies that promote studies by press release — as it had done for the article — to correct the record when that research gets retracted.

But the company told us the article we were asking about was not going to be retracted — and it was right. And the company had not issued a press release about the article meant for retraction.

We tried the authors, but haven’t heard back from them.

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