A new publishing approach — retract and replace — is having growing pains

Ana Marušić

Many journals are adopting a recently developed mechanism for correcting the scientific record known as “retract and replace” — usually employed when the original paper has been affected by honest errors. But if an article is retracted and replaced, can readers always tell? To find out, Ana Marušić at the University of Split School of Medicine in Croatia and her colleagues reviewed 29 “Corrected and Republished Articles” issued between January, 2015 and December, 2016, noting how they were marked by Web of Science, Scopus, and the journals themselves. They report their findings today in The Lancet.

Retraction Watch: You found some inconsistencies in how articles are handled by journals and other databases. What were the most surprising and/or troubling to you?

Continue reading A new publishing approach — retract and replace — is having growing pains

Lancet retracts and replaces news story about controversial abortion drug

The Lancet has retracted a journalist-written piece about a controversial drug used off-label to induce abortions, and replaced it with a corrected version.

In the retraction notice, the journal said it “removed the information that we believe to be inaccurate.”

The article, first published Oct. 28, 2017, highlights Pfizer’s decision to withdraw the drug, misoprostol, from the French market in 2018, and explores the ongoing debate surrounding its uses and safety. Approved to treat ulcers, misoprostol is more often used off-label to induce labor or medical abortions, despite reports of serious side effects, including hemorrhaging and birth defects “sometimes associated with fetal death.” Continue reading Lancet retracts and replaces news story about controversial abortion drug

Retract, replace, retract: Beleaguered food researcher pulls article from JAMA journal (again)

Brian Wansink

A high-profile food researcher who’s faced heavy criticism about his work has retracted the revised version of an article he’d already retracted last month.

Yes, you read that right: Brian Wansink at Cornell University retracted the original article from JAMA Pediatrics in September, replacing it with a revised version. Now he’s retracting the revised version, citing a major error: The study, which reported children were more likely to choose an apple over a cookie if the apple included an Elmo sticker, was conducted in children 3-5 years old, not 8-11, as the study reported.

Although Wansink told BuzzFeed he asked the journal to retract the paper, Annette Flanagin, Executive Managing Editor for The JAMA Network, told us the editors requested the retraction:

Continue reading Retract, replace, retract: Beleaguered food researcher pulls article from JAMA journal (again)

Boys will be boys: Data error prompts U-turn on study of sex differences in school

The authors of a 2017 paper on emotional and behavioral gaps between boys and girls have retracted the article after discovering a coding error that completely undermined their conclusions.

The revelation prompted the researchers to republish their findings in the same journal, this time with a title that flips the narrative.

The PsychJournal study, first published in March, looked at self-regulation — loosely defined as the ability to get stuff done and keep a lid on it —  in boys and girls in German elementary schools. Although previous studies had found girls might do better on this front, the authors, from the University of Leipzig and New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus, initially found the opposite:

Continue reading Boys will be boys: Data error prompts U-turn on study of sex differences in school

Errors in govt database prompt authors to retract and replace paper in JAMA journal

Researchers have retracted and replaced a June 2016 paper in JAMA Internal Medicine after discovering errors in their data.

The paper explored whether Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) — groups of health care providers who earn more when they deliver high-quality care without boosting costs  — improve care and lower health care costs for Medicare patients. The paper’s corresponding author, Carrie H. Colla, and her colleagues examined Medicare data over five years and found the ACOs provided “ modest savings on average”  and less hospital care.  

But the data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contained errors. According to Colla, after the paper was published, CMS “let us know in the fall [2016] that there were errors in the files, but weren’t able to give us final replacement files until winter.” Continue reading Errors in govt database prompt authors to retract and replace paper in JAMA journal

Déjà vu: JBC epigenetics paper is retracted, then largely re-published with fewer authors

JBCA group of authors have withdrawn a 2011 Journal of Biological Chemistry paper, but then appear to have re-published almost the same paper a month later, only this time with just five of the original nine authors.

The paper, “HDAC3-dependent reversible lysine acetylation of cardiac myosin heavy chain isoforms modulates their enzymatic and motor activity,” concerns a type of protein regulation important to cardiac stress. Written by researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh, it has been cited 16 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. It was rated “Exceptional” by a reviewer on the Faculty of 1000 website.

As we’ve come to expect from the JBC, here’s the full retraction notice, in all its inexplicit glory: Continue reading Déjà vu: JBC epigenetics paper is retracted, then largely re-published with fewer authors

Lancet retracts and republishes cardiology paper with admirable notice

logo_lancetOne of the papers from a massive heart disease study in China, published in the Lancet, has been retracted and republished after the authors noticed a statistical error.

The article, by authors from Peking Union Medical College in China, Yale University, and elsewhere, presented the results of the China PEACE-Retrospective Acute Myocardial Infarction Study, part of a national initiative to study and improve care for cardiac problems. After being posted online on June 24, 2014, the authors noticed that they’d incorrectly weighed one of the cities in their calculations, which threw off a number of national estimates.

After the corrections were made, the paper was peer-reviewed again, and reviewers stated that despite the mistakes, the original conclusions were sound.

Today is a banner day on Retraction Watch: This is our second excellent example of transparency in 24 hours, and therefore the second entry in our “doing the right thing” category. An editorial lays out exactly what happened, including a timeline, allowing scientists to feel confident they’re basing the next research step on solid and accurate data. (We also appreciate the hat tip to the Committee on Publication Ethics retraction guidelines, which we often send out to editors of bad notices as a gentle reminder.)

Here’s the notice for “ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in China from 2001 to 2011 (the China PEACE-Retrospective Acute Myocardial Infarction Study): a retrospective analysis of hospital data”: Continue reading Lancet retracts and republishes cardiology paper with admirable notice

Psychologists take a gamble on using data about risky behavior, and are forced to retract a paper

When the first sentence of a science paper reads like this, you might think you’re in for quite a ride:

Jumping out of an airplane may seem like a crazy and scary thing to do, but for a skydiver it is a fun and exciting experience.

Unfortunately for the authors of an earlier version of that paper comparing gamblers and skydivers, published in 2011 in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, the ride was short-lived, according to a retraction notice just published: Continue reading Psychologists take a gamble on using data about risky behavior, and are forced to retract a paper

Academic purgatory: Papers withdrawn before they’re “officially” published

If a paper appears online but then is withdrawn — a kinder, gentler version of retracted — before it is “officially” published, did anyone hear it fall?

Oops, mixed metaphors again. And scare quotes! The latter, however, are because publishers seem to have varying opinions of whether or not something that is freely available online is published. And that has ramifications for whether you can retract a paper like that.

Let us explain with two examples: Continue reading Academic purgatory: Papers withdrawn before they’re “officially” published

They wuz robbed: Editorial TKO for boxing paper leads to retraction, republication

In the blue corner: California researchers who reviewed trends in death rates among professional boxers.

In the red (ink) corner: The editors of Neurosurgery, who misclassified the article, leading to an abbreviated version appearing in print.

The decision: A retraction, followed by a reclassification and republication of the complete article: Continue reading They wuz robbed: Editorial TKO for boxing paper leads to retraction, republication