In February of this year, the Joy of Cooking launched what you could call an epic Twitter stream. Inspired by Stephanie Lee’s reporting in BuzzFeed on Brian Wansink — the food marketing researcher at Cornell who later resigned following findings of misconduct by the university — the legendary cookbook pointed out all that was wrong with a 2009 study claiming that their recipes added calories over the years. Those tweets led to coverage in The Verge,The New Yorker, and elsewhere.
Ben Goldacre has been a busy man. In the last six weeks, the author and medical doctor’s Compare Project has evaluated 67 clinical trials published in the top five medical journals, looking for any “switched outcomes,” meaning the authors didn’t report something they said they would, or included additional outcomes in the published paper, with no explanation for the change. The vast majority – 58 – included such discrepancies. Goldacre talked to us about how journals – New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), JAMA, The Lancet, BMJ, and Annals of Internal Medicine — have responded to this feedback.
A new project does the relatively straightforward task of comparing reported outcomes from clinical trials to what the researchers said they planned to measure before the trial began. And what they’ve found is a bit sad, albeit not entirely surprising.
As part of The Compare Project, author and medical doctor Ben Goldacre and his team have so far evaluated 36 clinical trials published by the top five medical journals (New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, and British Medical Journal). Many of those trials included “switched outcomes,” meaning the authors didn’t report something they said they would, or included additional outcomes in the published paper, with no explanation for the change.
Here are the latest results from the project, according to its website:
A heart researcher has notched her third retraction, a small 2006 trial in Annals of Internal Medicine which seemed to show that a blood pressure drug could help people with artery disease walk further with less pain.
Earlier this year, Anna Ahimastos, formerly a researcher at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, lost a larger clinical trial in JAMA and a subanalysis in Circulation Research after it was discovered she’d fabricated patient records. As principle investigator Bronwyn Kingwell told us in September:
Specifically, records were fabricated for trial participants that did not exist.
In the wake of Harvard’s gritty performance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — they were eliminated Saturday — a pair of faculty members at the Ivy League institution are calling foul on two controversial journal articles that have already been corrected.
Walter Willett, an oft-quoted Harvard nutrition expert, is calling for the retraction of an eyebrow-raising article earlier this month challenging the relative health benefits of fats from fish and vegetables over those in meat and butter.
The article, which appeared in theAnnals of Internal Medicine, quickly came under fire and the researchers — from the University of Cambridge — ended up making several corrections. Despite the changes, the authors have stood by their work, according to a piece this week in Science.
But that hasn’t stopped Willett from urging a retraction. PerScience: