Last July, Joseph Hilgard, a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, saw an article in Gifted Child Quarterly that made him do a double take. Hilgard, who is studying the effects of violent media on aggressive behavior, said the results of the 2016 paper “caused me some alarm.”
The research—led by corresponding author Brad J. Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University (OSU)—showed that gifted and non-gifted children’s verbal skills dropped substantially after watching 12 minutes of a violent cartoon. The violent program had a greater impact on the gifted children, temporarily eliminating the pre-video verbal edge they displayed over their non-gifted peers.
To Hilgard, the results suggested that violent media can actually impair learning and performance. But the effect size was huge — so big, Hilgard thought it had to be a mistake. This, plus other questions, prompted Hilgard to contact the authors and the journal. Unfortunately, once he got a look at the data — collected by a co-author in Turkey who became unreachable after the recent coup attempt — the questions didn’t go away. So the journal decided to retract the paper.
Bushman’s body of work has continually supported the idea that violent media increases aggressive behavior, including a controversial 2012 study “Boom, Headshot!” that was retracted earlier this year.
After a years-long dispute over a 2012 paper which suggested there might be some effects of first-person shooter video games on players, the journal has retracted the paper.
The stated reason in the notice: Some outside researchers spotted irregularities in the data, and contacted the corresponding author’s institution, Ohio State University, in 2015. Since the original data were missing, Communication Research is retracting the paper, with the corresponding author’s okay.
Can playing first-person shooter video games train players to become better marksmen?
A 2012 paper — titled “Boom, Headshot!” — presented evidence to suggest that was, in fact, true. But after enduring heavy fire from critics (one of whom has long argued video games have little lasting impact on users), the authors are planning to retract the paper, citing some irregularities with the data. Although the journal has apparently agreed to publish a revised version of the paper, last year the researchers’ institution decided to launch a misconduct investigation against one of the two co-authors.
A cluster of papers by different authors has been retracted for sharing text, even though some papers were submitted at the same time.
How is that possible? A spokesperson for Springer told us that they have reason to believe a third-party company may have helped prepare the papers for publication, and in the process might have spread the material around to multiple manuscripts.
The details of the cluster are a bit perplexing, so bear with us. Two of the papers — that were published only months apart — have already been retracted, as we reported in April. Now, two other papers have been retracted from Molecular Biology Reports — and both notices cite the previously retracted papers. The new notices also say that there’s reason to believe that the peer-review process was compromised.
All papers conclude that a certain polymorphism could signal a risk for coronary artery disease among Chinese people.
The problem of publication bias — giving higher marks to a paper that reports positive results rather than judging it on its design or methods — plagues the scientific literature. So if reviewers are too focused on the results of a paper, would stripping a paper of its findings solve the problem? That was the question explored in a recent experiment by guest editors of Comparative Political Studies. Mike Findley, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the guest editors of the journal, talked to us about a new paper explaining what they learned.
After a prominent researcher was dismissed due to multiple instances of misconduct in his studies, how are journals responding?
When an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found multiple issues with the work of psychiatry researcher Alexander Neumeister, New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center shut down eight of his studies. (Disclosure: The author of this post is an NYU journalism student, but has no relationship with the medical school.) The agency concluded the studies, which involved using experimental drugs to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), were tainted by lax oversight, falsified records, and inaccurate case histories, according to the New York Times. (Neuroskeptic also recently analyzed the case.)
A communications journal has retracted parts of a paper about a famous German political scientist after her great-nephew threatened the journal with legal action, claiming bits of the paper were defamatory.
A researcher faked data and a masters degree, according to an investigation by Columbia University.
He’s also earned his fourth retraction. The new notice, along with one we’ve uncovered from 2014, provide some information on the extent of the deception of Robert Frumento, who left Columbia a decade ago, around the time that the now-retracted papers were published.