Liver spots: Hepatology journal yanks research letter on caffeine-fibrosis link, saying authors falsified data

Work from a prolific father-son team of liver researchers in Germany has come under scrutiny after accusations that they falsified data in a 2009 letter to the editor that appeared in the Journal of Hepatology.

The letter, retracted in the September issue (after an online notice in June), referred to a 2008 article in the journal by Axel Gressner, his son Olav, and their colleagues at University Hospital in Aachen in which the authors reported that doses of caffeine might be an effective treatment for liver fibrosis, scarring of the organ that results from chronic ailments such as cirrhosis or hepatitis.

Epidemiologic evidence has suggested that people who drink coffee are somewhat protected from liver fibrosis—although some experts dispute the purported connection—and the German group claimed to have been among the first to find a plausible molecular mechanism for the link. Their November 2008 paper on the subject has been cited 16 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Science, a hefty number for just 22 months.

In their follow-up letter, they went a step further, stating that injecting rats with caffeine blocked the expression of a key protein associated with growth of connective tissue necessary for the formation of liver scars.

But the evidence backing the letter appears to be far weaker than the researchers initially let on. Continue reading Liver spots: Hepatology journal yanks research letter on caffeine-fibrosis link, saying authors falsified data

Double trouble: Psych journal prints PTSD paper twice

Aging & Mental Health “welcomes original contributions” to fill its pages.

Or not so original. Last November, the journal published a study by two California researchers which looked at the possible effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on physical well-being in older women – and found no evidence of such a link.

Six months later, the journal published the findings again.

It issued a retraction earlier this month, which included the following: Continue reading Double trouble: Psych journal prints PTSD paper twice

Shifting gears: Occupational health journal pulls study linking shift work, age and sleep disorders

Blaming “data coding errors,” the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health has pulled an article linking shift work, age and sleeping problems.

The study was published four months ago, but managed in its brief lifespan to garner significant attention in the mainstream media and the blogosphere, although it has not been cited by any other papers. It comes alongside growing interest in the potential lnks between shift work and various health conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and breast cancer. Denmark even awards damages to shift workers who have developed the latter.

Ironically, the researchers, led by Philip Tucker, of Swansea University in Wales, U.K., had hoped to demonstrate the toll of shift work that previous studies were unable to show conclusively because of “methodological difficulties”: Continue reading Shifting gears: Occupational health journal pulls study linking shift work, age and sleep disorders

Double negatives: Four years later, a journal restores retracted headache paper

drawing by JD Fletcher via Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Clusterhead.jpg

It might not be a first – although we can’t find another example — but a mental health journal has reinstated an article it retracted four years ago.

The retracted retraction notice appears in the August issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, a BMJ title, and refers to a 2005 article describing an alarming case of treatment-related emotional problems in a patient with cluster headaches.

These headaches, which often strike behind the eyes, are akin to migraines and have been dubbed “suicide headaches” because they are so intensely painful that many sufferers have said that death would be a preferable fate. (Think: “It beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.”)

The patient had been taking high doses of the drug methysergide and began to experience Continue reading Double negatives: Four years later, a journal restores retracted headache paper

Redundancy, redux: Anesthesia journal retracts obesity paper in self-plagiarism case

Sometimes redundancy — the topic of our last post — is a failure of editors to adequately vet a manuscript. Other times, the blame falls more squarely on the authors.

Consider: In the August 2010 issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, a highly regarded specialty journal, five researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, led by Andrew Ochroch, made a remarkable confession.

Their article in the May issue of A&A on ventilation of patients recovering from bariatric surgery plagiarized a 2009 paper in a competing publication, Anesthesiology — written by the same group:

We sincerely apologize for the inappropriate and unacceptable intellectual overlap and self-plagiarism of our paper … published in Anesthesiology.

Sincere apologies are better, we suppose, than insincere ones. But, never mind. They go on: Continue reading Redundancy, redux: Anesthesia journal retracts obesity paper in self-plagiarism case

Department of Redundancy Department: From fish to toxicology, where have all the editors gone?

Photo by shaymus22 via flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaymus22/

Readers of three science publications may be wondering, “Where in the world were the editors?” after retractions appeared recently in the journals sounding the same theme: The articles in question had too much “overlap” between previous publications.

For example, the Journal of Fish Biology notice reads, in part: “The retraction has been agreed due to overlap between this article and several previously published articles.”

Translation: Our bad!

The latest retraction notices from the journals Environmental Toxicology, the Journal of Fish Biology and the Journal of Clinical Neurology Continue reading Department of Redundancy Department: From fish to toxicology, where have all the editors gone?