That study reporting worrisome levels of zinc in tuna? It’s being retracted

Recently, a rash of news outlets posted concerns that canned tuna and other products may contain potentially dangerous levels of zinc. They were all wrong.

News outlets such as The Daily Mail and The Sun reported findings from a recent study, which showed that canned foods such as tuna may contain 100 times the daily limit of zinc — raising concerns about how such huge doses of the mineral could be causing digestion problems. The last author of the study told Retraction Watch the paper is going to be retracted, because the authors made a fundamental error calculating the amount of zinc present in canned foods.

Last week, the UK’s biggest health website NHS Choices posted a critique of the paper, in which they recalculated the levels of zinc present in canned foods:

Continue reading That study reporting worrisome levels of zinc in tuna? It’s being retracted

Whoops: Authors didn’t mean to include new data in article about transgender identity

Here’s something we don’t see that often — authors retracting one of their articles because it included new data.

But that is the case with a 2017 review exploring the potential genetic and hormonal underpinnings of gender identity.  The authors Rosa Fernández García and Eduardo Pásaro Mendez told Retraction Watch that they asked bioethics journal Cuadernos de Bioética to withdraw their review after realizing it “indirectly” mentioned some of their unpublished work. According to García, the authors had hoped to publish the new data in a scientific paper before the review came out, but the review ended up being published first.  

Here’s the retraction notice for “Is Sexual Identity Optional? A Study of The Genetics of Transsexuality:”

Continue reading Whoops: Authors didn’t mean to include new data in article about transgender identity

Authors retract, replace highly cited paper on ADHD in kids

Researchers have retracted and replaced a 2014 paper in JAMA Psychiatry, exploring a new way to classify attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, after discovering errors in the data.

Some experts have criticized the current diagnostic criteria for ADHD—noting, in some cases, it could inflate the rate of diagnosis. Sarah L. Karalunas, the paper’s corresponding author, told Retraction Watch that the aim of the study was to look beyond current criteria and “demonstrate an approach that could be used to better delineate the boundaries of ADHD and other psychiatric diagnostic categories.”   Continue reading Authors retract, replace highly cited paper on ADHD in kids

Authors claim clinical trial data came from one center. It came from three.

A BMJ journal has retracted a 2017 paper that made a false claim about the clinical trial in question. 

The Acupuncture in Medicine paper reported the results of a clinical trial about the impact of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine on stroke, gathered from one center. However, in November, the editors of the journal discovered that the authors had completed the trial at three centers, and had already published the data in Scientific Reports in 2016. The authors say the duplication and misrepresentation of the data stemmed from “confusion and misunderstanding.” Continue reading Authors claim clinical trial data came from one center. It came from three.

Author: “The retractions were about bureaucracy, not science”

A researcher has retracted two 2014 papers, after discovering they had not gone through the proper approval process before being submitted.

The papers were part of a collaboration funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which focused on solving protein structures. Adam Godzik, the senior author, told Retraction Watch that all papers had to be approved by a special committee before being submitted to a journal. Given the scale of the collaboration, the committee for the Joint Center for Structural Genomics (JCSG) would assess whether researchers who had made a previous contribution to the work should be added as authors.

Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics retracted both papers after Godzik informed the editor in August 2014 that neither article had undergone the required review before being submitted to the journal. Although Wiley agreed to the retractions in an email to Godzik in September 2014,  the papers were only pulled in January—more than three years later. Continue reading Author: “The retractions were about bureaucracy, not science”

“The ‘1’ key was not pressed hard enough:” Did a typo kill a cancer paper?

Errors in a 2017 paper about a new cancer test may have occurred because of a simple typo while performing calculations of the tool’s effectiveness.

According to the last author, the “1” key was likely not pressed hard enough.

The error, however small, affected key values “so greatly that the conclusions of the paper can no longer be supported,” the editor said, which prompted the journal to retract the paper. Continue reading “The ‘1’ key was not pressed hard enough:” Did a typo kill a cancer paper?

Child took wrong compound for over a year after “communication error”

Credit: Steven Depolo, Flickr

A journal is retracting a paper after it discovered researchers gave a child the wrong supplement for more than a year.

Rhiannon Bugno, managing editor for Biological Psychiatry, told Retraction Watch the mix-up did not put the patient at risk. However, the mistake was enough for the journal’s editor, John Krystal, of Yale University, to request the retraction of a 2016 paper describing the young girl’s experience taking the compound,“Rett-like Severe Encephalopathy Caused by a De Novo GRIN2B Mutation Is Attenuated by D-serine Dietary Supplement.”

Originally published June 17, 2016, the paper was retracted Jan. 15. Led by corresponding author Xavier Altafaj, of the University of Barcelona (UB) and Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), researchers described using an amino acid, D-serine, to treat a child with a rare genetic disorder that affects neurons.

According to the notice, the researchers did use D-serine in lab work used as proof-of-concept; however, when it came time to try it in the patient, as a result of a “communication error:”

Continue reading Child took wrong compound for over a year after “communication error”

Overlooked virus “generated a mess,” infected highly cited Cell, PNAS papers

When Alexander Harms arrived at the University of Copenhagen in August 2016, as a postdoc planning to study a type of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, he carried with him a warning from another lab who had recruited him:

People said, “If you go there, you have to deal with these weird articles that nobody believes.”

The papers in question had been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2011 and Cell in 2013. Led by Kenn Gerdes, Harms’s new lab director, the work laid out a complex chain of events that mapped out how an E. coli bacterium can go into a dormant state, called persistence, that allows it to survive while the rest of its colony is wiped out.

Despite some experts’ skepticism, each paper had been cited hundreds of times. And Harms told us:

I personally did believe in the published work. There had been papers from others that kind of attacked [the Gerdes lab’s theory], but that was not high-quality work.

But by November 2016, Harms figured out that the skeptics had been right.  Continue reading Overlooked virus “generated a mess,” infected highly cited Cell, PNAS papers

Should a journal retract a paper the authors didn’t know contained bad data?

A medical journal has retracted a 2016 paper over a series of errors, prompting it to lose faith in the paper overall. The authors have objected to the decision, arguing the errors weren’t their fault and could be revised with a correction — rather than retracting what they consider “an important contribution” to an ongoing debate in medicine.

The paper explored the so-called weekend effect—that patients admitted to the emergency department on the weekend are more likely to die than those admitted on a weekday. Whether the weekend effect is real is not clear. Some studies have supported the phenomenon in certain areas of medicine, but others (including the now-retracted paper) have failed to find an effect.

First author Mohammed A. Mohammed, based at the University of Bradford in the UK, told Retraction Watch that the errors were introduced by one of the hospitals that provided them the data:

Continue reading Should a journal retract a paper the authors didn’t know contained bad data?

Study that said hate cuts 12 years off gay lives fails to replicate

A highly cited paper has received a major correction as a result of the ongoing battle over attitudes towards gay people, when a prominent — and polarizing — critic showed it could not be replicated.  

In December 2017, researchers led by Mark Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University corrected the paper, originally published in Social Science & Medicine in February 2014, which showed that gay people who live in areas where people were highly prejudiced against them had a significantly shorter life expectancy. The corrigendum came more than a year after a researcher who has testified against same-sex marriage was unable to replicate the original study.

“Structural stigma and all-cause mortality in sexual minority populations,” has been cited 102 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, and attracted media coverage when it was published, from outlets such as Reuters and U.S. News & World Report.

Continue reading Study that said hate cuts 12 years off gay lives fails to replicate