Holy cow: “The article as written contains misleading information and omits important details.”

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An agriculture journal has put the “retraction” brand on a 2020 study about calving cattle after the editors learned that the researchers had misrepresented aspects of their work. 

Changes in rumen fermentation, bacterial community, and predicted functional pathway in Holstein cows with and without subacute ruminal acidosis during the periparturient period,” appeared in March in the Journal of Dairy Science. The senior author of the article was Shigeru Sato, of the Graduate School of Veterinary Sciences at Iwate University in Japan. 

According to the retraction notice (which is only mentioned at the very bottom of the original article’s page, as a “linked article”): 

The authors have elected to retract this paper in accordance with the following points. The article as written contains misleading information and omits important details. Cows in this study were assigned to groups based on the current definition of subacute ruminal acidosis; they were housed on two different farms and fed two different sets of rations in this study. However, multiple farms were not described in the materials and methods and this was not accounted for in the statistical analysis as published. The diets shown in Table 1 were not actually fed to animals; rather, the proportions of ingredients listed represent an average of the two farms housing the cows.

Neither Sato nor the editor of the journal responded to a request for comment. However, Yo-Han Kim, a co-author of the articles, replied to our message to Sato, saying that all of the authors agreed with the retraction and that no other papers were affected.

We’ve seen this, um, mooovie before. As readers of this blog might recall, the new retraction isn’t the first we’ve covered involving cows’ . In 2016, we wrote about the time an author accused of fabricating data said his lab notebook had vanished into a pit of manure. And last year, we brought you the case of researchers whose paper on bullshit turned out to not be about BS after all

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One thought on “Holy cow: “The article as written contains misleading information and omits important details.””

  1. Japanese academics are known to be hard-working, paying sufficient attention to details. It is a shame to see papers of Japanese origin being retracted.

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