What Caught Our Attention: When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) publishes a correction that is more than a misspelling of a name, we take a look. When NEJM publishes a 500-word correction to the data in a highly cited article, we take notice. This study tested the effects of a drug to prevent blood loss in patients undergoing heart surgery; it’s been the subject of correspondence between the authors and outside experts. The correction involved tweaks — lots of tweaks — to the text and tables, which did not change the outcomes. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Big journal, big correction
Every year, academics get thousands of spam emails inviting them to submit manuscripts or attend conferences — but don’t bother asking to “unsubscribe” for Christmas.
Spoiler alert, for those of you planning to read the rest of this post: It doesn’t make much of a difference.
That’s according to the conclusions of a study published in one of our favorite issues of the BMJ — the Christmas issue. After a group of five self-described “intrepid academics” tried to unsubscribe from the 300+ spam invitations they received on average each month, the volume decreased by only 19% after one year.
Not surprisingly, many emails — approximately 1 in 6 — were duplicates (aka “reheated spam”), and the vast majority (83%) had little relevance to the researchers’ interests.
Study author Andrew Grey at the University of Auckland told us that since it’s the BMJ Christmas issue, they wanted to have a bit of fun. But it’s not an all-together light topic, he noted: Continue reading Spam me once, shame on you. (Academic) spam me 3000 times…?
A journal has retracted a paper on a controversial course of treatment used to stunt the growth of disabled children, at the request of the human research ethics committee at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.
The paper described the so-called Ashley Treatment — explored last week in the New York Times — in which disabled children receive hormones and procedures to keep them small and diminish the effects of puberty, making it easier for them to be cared for. The retracted paper analyzed the use of the treatment in a girl named Charley who was born in New Zealand with a brain injury, whose case has attracted the attention of The Washington Post and People magazine, among other outlets.
The paper analyzed Charley’s case, and did not involve any clinical subjects. But the retraction note suggests that the ethics of publishing this paper weren’t fully worked out:
Living Cell Technologies (LCT), a biotech company headquartered in Australia, has retracted a 2011 paper purporting to show that their product reversed Parkinson’s symptoms in rats after “being unable to reconfirm their reported results and a possible deviation from the protocol.”
LCT is developing NTCELL, which, according to their site: Continue reading Biotech company retracts Parkinson’s treatment study after “possible deviation from protocol”
The author of a scholarly work on Christian theology — in particular, that dealing with what the Bible has to say about the relationship of Christians with Jews and other non-believers in Christ — has lost the article for violating the Eighth Commandment. (Or Seventh, depending which version of said commandments you read.)
The paper, “Social identity, ethnicity and the gospel of reconciliation,” was written by Jason Goroncy, of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, in Dunedin, New Zealand, and the Department of Practical Theology at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa. It appeared in the journal Theological Studies (also known as HTS Teologiese Studies).
The abstract states:
They say that a poor workman blames his tools. If you’re a scientist and you discover your tools don’t do exactly what you thought they did, however, the right thing to do is let other scientists relying on your work know.
That’s what the University of Auckland’s Nigel Birch and colleagues did recently, after a 2012 study they published in the Journal of Neurochemistry didn’t hold up. Here’s the notice, which we’d consider a model for retractions everywhere: Continue reading A model retraction in the Journal of Neurochemistry for “unexpected effect” of a filter