Yes, argues Roosy Aulakh, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandigarh, India. In last week’s BMJ, she argues that recent measures to force researchers in India to produce a minimum number of publications to obtain promotions could set the stage for many problems, including fraud.
Retraction Watch: You cite a recent paper that showed more than 50% of Indian medical institutions and hospitals didn’t publish a single paper between 2005 and 2014. Did that finding surprise you?
Roosy Aulakh: Well definitely yes! With over 400 medical colleges in India producing more than 50,000 doctors an year, such poor research output surely came as a surprise.
It’s not often that a paper elicits an apology — but that’s just what happened when family members first learned a bagpipe musician died from inhaling mold and fungi from a case study reported in a journal. The hospital has since apologized; the journal, however, told us it is not planning to issue a retraction.
There seem to be conflicting accounts over whether any consent was obtained to publish the report. The Thorax paper says the patient gave consent, and according to Gisli Jenkins, co-editor-in-chief ofthe journal and a professor of experimental medicine at Nottingham University in the UK, consent was sought from the family. But the patient’s daughter told us that neither the next of kin nor the patient were approached for consent.
Authors of systematic review articles sometimes overlook misconduct and conflicts of interest present in the research they are analyzing, according to a recent study published in BMJ Open.
During the study, researchers reviewed 118 systematic reviews published in 2013 in four high-profile medical journals — Annals of Internal Medicine, the British Medical Journal, The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet. In addition, the authors contacted review authors to ask additional questions; 80 (69%) responded. The review included whether the authors had followed certain procedures to ensure the integrity of the data they were compiling, such as checking for duplicate publications, and analyzing if the authors’ conflicts of interest may have impacted the findings.
A researcher is calling for the retraction of a paper about a recent ban in the use of organs from executed prisoners in China, accusing the authors of misrepresenting the state of the practice.
In April 2015, a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics welcomed the ban by the Chinese government as “a step in the right direction,” but noted that China remains plagued by a crucial shortage in available organs.
Some academics disagreed with the authors’ take on the issue, noting that the paper fails to note that many organs may continue to be harvested from Chinese prisoners of conscience; ultimately, the journal received a letter asking to retract the paper. The journal decided not to, and instead asked the authors to issue a lengthy correction, for instance changing the language about the government decision (“law” became“guideline”), and allowed critics to publish a rebuttal to the paper in May 2016. Continue reading Is China using organs from executed prisoners? Researchers debate issue in the literature
A rheumatology journal has retracted a paper about treating knee pain after an institutional investigation found a mistake in the statistical process.
Over several months, the authors proposed a series of corrections to the 2014 study. However, the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (ARD) decided that there were “unresolved concerns” about the reliability of the data, and decided to retract the paper entirely, despite the authors’ objections.
Sumitran-Holgersson already has one retraction under her belt — of a 2005 Blood paper, after another investigation concluded the results “cannot be considered reliable.” Sumitran-Holgersson and her husband, co-author Jan Holgersson, did not sign the retraction notice. Both were based at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) at the time, but have since moved to the University of Gothenburg.
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.