Too many papers cite retracted research — even after it’s been retracted. It’s a problem. It can be especially a problem in clinical fields, where patient care is at stake. Recently, Richard Gray at La Trobe University in Australia and his colleagues examined the scope of the problem in the nursing field, noting how many systematic reviews included findings from retracted clinical trials. We spoke with Gray about their findings, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies — and what they might mean for the safety of patients.
Retraction Watch: Retractions are a concern in any field, but as you note, when clinical practice is at stake, it can be particularly worrisome. Do you think your findings raise any potential concerns about patient safety?
We all make mistakes – but when it comes to the scientific literature, too many authors are making critical mistakes in their list of references, making it difficult for readers to retrieve a cited paper. We spoke with Marilyn Oermann, the Thelma M. Ingles Professor of Nursing at the Duke University School of Nursing, who has studied this problem extensively in the nursing literature.
When a researcher encountered two papers that suggested moonlight has biological effects — on both plants and humans — he took a second look at the data, and came to different conclusions. That was the easy part — getting the word out about his negative findings, however, was much more difficult.
When Jean-Luc Margot, a professor in the departments of Earth, Planetary & Space Sciences and Physics & Astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, tried to submit his reanalysis to the journals that published the original papers, both rejected it; after multiple attempts, his work ended up in different publications.
Disagreements are common but crucial in science; like they say, friction makes fire. Journals are inherently disinterested in negative findings — but should it take more than a year, in one instance, to publish an alternative interpretation to somewhat speculative findings that, at first glance, seem difficult to believe? Especially when they contain such obvious methodological issues such as presenting only a handful of data points linking biological activity to the full moon, or ignore significant confounders?
The journal’s editor-in-chief, Debra Jackson, confirmed the dates and said that “a commercial company” brought the matter to their attention. After the journal asked a statistician to weigh in, they stated that a “substantial re-write would be required to correct the article,” and a retraction would be “the most suitable course of action.”
Although she said the authors initially sought to correct, not retract, the study, they eventually agreed with the decision.
The Journal of Pediatric Nursing has retracted a 2013 article (meeting abstract, really) on growth hormone after the drug company that employed the authors cried “take it back.”
The research appears to have been presented at a meeting of the Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing Society, and looked at inefficiency in the use of devices for administering growth hormone. All but one of the authors is listed as working for Novo Nordisk, an international pharmaceutical firm.
We’re all for research on improving communication and collaboration among colleagues. But we trust that the experts know what they’re doing. You can see where this is going.
The journal Nurse Education Today has retracted a 2012 article, “Interprofessional learning in acute care: Developing a theoretical framework,” by a UK scholar because, how shall we put it, he might need a few lessons in interprofessionalism.
We noticed the other day that Weber’s name had disappeared from the Walden website and put in a call to the institution. A source there told us that Weber — a part-time faculty member who had been hoping for a full-time appointment at the school — apologized when confronted about the fraud.