Ever since critics began raising concerns about high-profile food scientist Brian Wansink’s work, he’s had to issue a series of high-profile retractions — and now has his seventh (including one paper that was retracted twice, after the journal removed a revised version, along with 14 corrections). The latest notice — first reported by BuzzFeed — is for a paper that was originally corrected by the journal Preventive Medicine earlier this month — and the correction notice was longer (1636 words) than the original, highly cited paper (1401 words). Following criticism by James Heathers about the highly cited study back in March 2017, the authors issued a series of changes, including explaining the children studied were preschoolers (3-5 years old), not preteens (8-11), as originally claimed. (They made that mistake once before, in another retracted paper.) But critics remained concerned. Yesterday, the journal retracted the paper. We spoke with editor Eduardo Franco of McGill University — who provided us with an advanced copy of an accompanying editorial, soon to be published — about the editorial processes behind the two notices, including the moment the journal knew the correction wouldn’t suffice.
Retraction Watch: You write that the initial decision to correct the paper came with “considerable intellectual agony.” Can you say why?