Study of autism and vitamin D earns retraction after questions about reliability

Marco Vertch

A pediatrics journal has retracted a 2016 article purporting to be the first randomized controlled trial on the effects of vitamin D supplements on autism over concerns about the reliability of the findings.

The paper, “Randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in children with autism spectrum disorder,” appeared in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and has been cited 27 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, earning it a “highly cited paper” designation compared to its counterparts of a similar age.

The authors came from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China, Chile, the UK and Norway. According to the abstract, the researchers looked at the effects of vitamin D supplements on 109 boys and girls with autism:

Continue reading Study of autism and vitamin D earns retraction after questions about reliability

“This is how science works:” Error leads to recall of paper linking Jon Stewart and election results

Jon Stewart in 2010

Jon Stewart is a powerful figure in American media. How powerful is he? So powerful that his departure in 2015 as host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central may have tipped the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.

Continue reading “This is how science works:” Error leads to recall of paper linking Jon Stewart and election results

After 18 months — and recommended retractions — no movement in psychology case

The University of Rennes-2

“Dissatisfied.” That’s how Nick Brown and James Heathers describe their reaction to the progress — or lack thereof — in the case of Nicholas Guéguen, a psychology researcher whose work the two data sleuths have questioned.

Brown and Heathers first wrote about the case in 2017. In a new blog post, they write that the science integrity office at the University of Rennes-2, where Guéguen works, pulled punches in its investigation of its faculty member and in two reports it issued last year about the case. (Brown and Heathers, who has called himself a “data thug,” had hoped to make available a preliminary report about the case last year but said the university discouraged them from doing so — a stance that, if true, we wouldn’t find surprising given many institutions prefer to sit on reports of such investigations.)

Continue reading After 18 months — and recommended retractions — no movement in psychology case

Authors’ remorse: Researchers retract paper so they can publish it in a journal with a higher impact factor

via Derek Markham/Flickr

Some researchers evidently have never heard the term “no backsies.” The authors of a paper on spine surgery have retracted the article because, well, they were fickle.

We’ll explain.

Continue reading Authors’ remorse: Researchers retract paper so they can publish it in a journal with a higher impact factor

Article retracted after critics say it has “racist ideological underpinnings”

A psychology journal has retracted a controversial article about mental ability in South African women after a petition calling on the publication to withdraw the paper generated more than 5,000 signatures.  

The paper, “Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Colored South African women,” was published in Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition in March. It quickly drew attention, and outrage, from critics who objected to what they called racist overtones in the work, from the title on down.

According to the abstract:

Continue reading Article retracted after critics say it has “racist ideological underpinnings”

“We got scammed:” Authors “sincerely apologize” for plagiarism they blame a ghostwriter for

The journal Cureus is retracting three articles by a mashup of authors from Pakistan and the United States for plagiarism, which the researchers blame on their use of a hired gun to prepare the papers.

The articles were published over a roughly one-month stretch in August and September 2018 and covered an impressively polymathic range of topics, from lupus to heart disease. Although the list of authors varied, a few names remained constant. One, Asad Ali, of Lahore Medical College and Institute of Dentistry, was the first author on all three papers. Another was Malik Qistas Ahmad, whose affiliation is given as the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson although he no longer works there.   

The papers (not in chronological order) are: “Systemic lupus erythematosus: an overview of the disease pathology and its management”;  “Neurogenic stunned myocardium: a literature review”; and “An overview of the pathology and emerging treatment approaches for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome.”

John R. Adler, the editor (and founder) of Cureus, told us that a reader pointed out the plagiarism, which escaped the journal’s plagiarism detection system.

The retraction notice for the first reads:

Continue reading “We got scammed:” Authors “sincerely apologize” for plagiarism they blame a ghostwriter for

Journalist’s questions lead to expression of concern for paper on melatonin and pistachios

Nicola Kuhrt

A spectroscopy journal has issued an expression of concern over a 2014 paper by researchers in Iran on the amount of the sleep hormone melatonin in pistachios after German authorities — prompted by a journalist’s questions — concluded that the analysis was in error.

The article, “Expression of concern to spectrofluorimetric determination of melatonin in kernels of four different pistacia varieties after ultrasound-assisted solid-liquid extraction,” was published in Spectrochimica Acta A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, an Elsevier journal.

The authors, from the University of Kerman, reported: Continue reading Journalist’s questions lead to expression of concern for paper on melatonin and pistachios

Should a paper on mindfulness have been retracted? A co-author weighs in

Myriam Hunink

Two weeks ago, we covered the retraction of a PLoS ONE paper on mindfulness following criticism — dating back to 2017 — by James Coyne. At the time, the corresponding author, Maria Hunink, of Erasmus and Harvard, had not responded to a request for comment. Hunink responded late last week, saying that she had been on vacation, and with her permission we are posting her comments — including a correction she and her co-authors had originally drafted –here in the spirit of what she called “a fair and open discussion on Retraction Watch.” 

We sent an email to PLoS ONE in response to their intention to retract our paper explaining why we disagree with retraction but it seems they did not change their statement and went ahead with retraction. We suggested that discussing the methodological issues is a more rational approach and beneficial than retraction but received no response.

In spite of its methodological limitations, we feel the paper is a valuable contribution. Continue reading Should a paper on mindfulness have been retracted? A co-author weighs in

Do wind turbines cause plagiarism? Energy researcher up to 20 retractions

By Narcisa Aciko

The editors of PLoS ONE have done something that we’re betting Donald Trump will never do: Retract a statement about noisy wind turbines.

The journal is pulling a 2014 article, titled “Adaptive neuro-fuzzy methodology for noise assessment of wind turbine,” after concluding that the researchers plagiarized. The corresponding author of the article is Shahaboddin Shamshirban, of the Department of Computer System and Information Technology at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the retraction isn’t his first. In fact, it’s not even the only one Shamshirban has in PLoS ONE this week. The journal also is retracting a 2016 paper from his group, bringing his total to 20, for sins including plagiarism and faked peer review.

According to the retraction notice for the turbine study, which has been cited 23 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science: Continue reading Do wind turbines cause plagiarism? Energy researcher up to 20 retractions

Maybe combining red wine and tea doesn’t kill tumors after all

According to the internet, Bear Grylls, the TV survivalist, said he “was always brought up to have a cup of tea at halfway up a rock face.” Which sounds too cute to be true and, given Grylls’ history of, um, buffing the hard edges of reality, almost certainly isn’t.

But Grylls appears to be far from alone in his tea hyperbole. A group of researchers in India has lost their 2011 paper in PLoS ONE on the synergistic effects of black tea and resveratrol — the compound in red wine touted as a fountain of youth —  on skin cancer for what (if we’re allowed to read the tea leaves) amounts to a cuppa apparent data fabrication.

Weak tea, indeed. And in mice, we should note, in a nod to “data thug” James Heathers’ most recent venture. Continue reading Maybe combining red wine and tea doesn’t kill tumors after all