In March, a journal published a paper about blood sugar levels in newborns that caused an immediate outcry from outside experts, who were concerned it contained a sentence that could be potentially harmful if misinterpreted by doctors.
Recently, the journal explained — in impressive detail — why it’s not retracting the paper. That, of course, gives readers the ability to form their own opinions. After seeing the pros and cons, let us know if you think the journal made the right call in a poll at the bottom of the story.
When it first appeared, the paper — “Newborn plasma glucose concentration nadirs by gestational-age group,” published by Neonatology — included this sentence in its abstract:
In order to potentially prevent low glucose concentrations at the time of the nadir, exogenous glucose should be provided to all newborns as soon as possible after birth.
According to an editorial note published by the journal’s editors, that caused immediate concern for outside experts:
Continue reading A journal decided to correct, rather than retract, a paper that contained “potentially contentious advice.” Do you agree with their call?
Earlier this year, the president of the Karolinska Institute, Ole Petter Ottersen, contacted the journal Respiration, saying KI had conducted an investigation and determined that a 2015 paper co-authored by once-lauded surgeon Paolo Macchiarini had been tainted by misconduct. Please retract the paper, Ottersen said. When the journal said no — opting to publish correspondence from KI and the authors’ response instead — Ottersen posted some of their correspondence online, in an attempt to pressure the journal to do the right thing. It’s not going to work, according to Thomas H. Nold, publication manager at Karger, which publishes Respiration. We spoke to Nold about the journal’s plans for the paper.
Retraction Watch: How do you feel about KI’s decision to publish your correspondence?
Continue reading Journal holds firm on decision not to retract Macchiarini paper, despite outside pressure
The president of the Karolinska Institutet (KI) is frustrated.
At the beginning of the year, Ole Petter Ottersen informed a journal that one of its papers — co-authored by former superstar Paolo Macchiarini — had been tainted by misconduct. But the journal declined to retract it.
Despite the fact that KI had conducted its own investigation into the integrity of the paper, the journal Respiration argued that it was “not in a position to make a judgement on whether or not to retract this article.” Instead, it proposed publishing KI’s argument for why the paper should be retracted, along with a rebuttal from the authors.
To Ottersen, this is just wrong. Yesterday, he posted some of his correspondence with the journal, which includes his request for retraction, the journal’s response, and his rebuttal. Ottersen’s blog post concludes:
Continue reading Karolinska told a journal to retract a paper by Macchiarini. It refused. The story didn’t end there.
The Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has declared that once-lauded surgeon Paolo Macchiarini and three co-authors committed misconduct in a 2015 paper.
The decision by KI’s vice chancellor will be followed by a request to retract the paper, published by the journal Respiration.
In the paper, the researchers described the case of a man with an acute lung disorder, in which he received an experimental treatment involving the use of his own blood-derived cells and the drug erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells. The patient “demonstrated an immediate, albeit temporary, clinical improvement,” according to the authors. However, he ultimately died of multisystem organ failure.
Continue reading Macchiarini, 3 co-authors found guilty of misconduct in 2015 paper
A PhD student who was supposed to complete part of an experiment passed the job on to a third party company, which in turn provided figures that were plagiarized and fabricated. That’s according to the corresponding author of the paper, which has now been retracted.
Hong Ren, affiliated with Xi’an Jiao Tong University in China, told us that he decided to delay the student’s graduation after he discovered that the student had passed off the work.
It’s not at all obvious that a third party was involved from the brief retraction notice for “EMT phenotype is induced by increased Src kinase activity via Src-mediated caspase-8 phosphorylation:”
Continue reading Third party company botched student’s doctoral work, says biologist
Last Friday we resurrected a previous feature of Retraction Watch, compiling five retractions that appeared to be simple acts of duplication.
This week, we spotlight another five unrelated retractions which, as we said last week, cover duplications in which the same – or some of the same – authors published the same – or some of the same – information in two different papers.
Justus Liebig University in Germany has been investigating concerns that Joachim Boldt, number two on the Retraction Watch Leaderboard and now up to 92 retractions, may have “manipulated” more data than previously believed.
Until now, the vast majority of Boldt’s retractions were thought to have involved inadequate ethics approval. However, new retraction notices for Boldt’s research suggest that there’s evidence the researcher also engaged in significant data manipulation.
The first retraction from the university investigation emerged last year. Two of three new notices cite the investigation specifically, and an informant at the university told us that there are more retractions to come.
Here are the retracted papers that are freshly on the record, starting with an August retraction for a 1991 Anesthesiology paper (cited 37 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge):
Continue reading Three more retractions for former record-holder Boldt, maybe more to come
In our line of work, we see it all — mega-corrections that don’t quite rise to the level of retraction, letters to the editor that point out seemingly fatal flaws in papers that remain untouched, and studies retracted for what seem like minor reasons. It can make you wonder what makes a paper worthy of a retraction. A recent case in an obesity journal may not provide a definitive answer, but it gives us a lot to chew on.
Here’s the story: In September 2013, Rosely Sichieri and a colleague from the State University of Rio de Janeiro submitted an article to Obesity Facts, “Unbalanced Baseline in School-Based Interventions to Prevent Obesity: Adjustment Can Lead to Bias?” The article examined statistical issues in randomized controlled trials of school-based weight loss programs. Peer reviewers said the paper needed major revisions before it could be accepted; the authors revised the paper enough in a second draft, submitted in November 2013, that the original reviewers accepted it. The paper was published in June 2014.
Then, in September 2014, a group of authors including David Allison of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and colleagues from Clemson, Thomas Jefferson, and the University of Minnesota, wrote a critical letter that was published in the journal in April. The letter, according to a just-published editorial: Continue reading When should a paper be retracted? A tale from the obesity literature
Noriyuki Takai, a gynecologic cancer researcher in Japan, has notched one more retraction — bringing the total to eight — due to figures that were “processed inappropriately” and did “not accurately report the original data.”
According to the notice, Takai alone put the figures together in the 2006 Oncology paper, which tested a histone deacetylase inhibitor on endometrial and ovarian cancer cell lines. The team is part of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Oita University in Japan.
Takai lost four papers in 2013 in Cancer Letters, and three papers in 2012 in Gynecologic Oncology, also due to issues with figures.
Continue reading Gynecologic cancer researcher earns eighth retraction
A Boston doctor indicted on charges of Medicare fraud in 2007 has had a paper relating to the case retracted this month.
Abdul Razzaque Ahmed was considered something of a miracle worker by his patients, treating two rare and disfiguring skin conditions called pemphigoid and pemphigus vulgaris. He used more powerful medicines than the typical course of treatment, including a drug normally used to treat cancer.
The initial indictment stated that Ahmed mixed blood samples to falsely show a “dual diagnosis” of both diseases, and prove to Medicare that they required the more rigorous (and expensive) treatment. It also alleged that he profited massively from the government pay-outs. He was convicted of obstruction in 2007; the other charges were dropped when he agreed to forfeit assets worth $2.9 million.
Now, a 2001 paper by Ahmed, which claimed fifteen patients had a dual diagnosis, has been retracted because the samples were all mixed. Here is the retraction notice from Clinical Immunology: Continue reading Alleged Medicare cheat loses paper for data mix-up