Our computer ate the data: Expression of concern over blood thinner study raises concerns itself

Thrombosis and Haemostasis has issued an “expression of concern” over a 2004 paper by Tunisian researchers:

Concerns have been raised by readers about the accuracy and validity of the data reported in the September 2004 article by Abdelkefi et al., entitled “Prevention of central venous line-related thrombosis by continuous infusion of low-dose unfractionated heparin, in patients with haemato-oncological disease. A randomized controlled trial” (Abdelkefi A et al.Thromb Haemost 2004; 92: 654–661).

In the trial, 108 patients with blood cancers reportedly received infusions of either saline or heparin, a blood thinner. Those given the active drug were far less likely to develop clots related to their catheters, according to the researchers, and no more likely to experience severe bleeding. In the report, the researchers write:

This is the first prospective, randomized study, which shows that low-dose of unfractionated heparin is safeand effective to prevent catheter-related thrombosis in patients with haemato-oncological disease.

The article has had an impact, having been cited 32 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. At some point after publication, however, the results evidently began to look fishy. Again from the journal: Continue reading Our computer ate the data: Expression of concern over blood thinner study raises concerns itself

Sultans of swap: Turkish researchers plagiarized electromagnetic fields-cancer paper, apparently others

The Bosnian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences has retracted a paper it published in August by Turkish researchers on the potential cancer risks associated with exposure to electromagnetic fields, or EMFs.

The reason: Other people wrote nearly all of it.

According to an editor’s notice: Continue reading Sultans of swap: Turkish researchers plagiarized electromagnetic fields-cancer paper, apparently others

Another update on Anil Potti: Co-author asks Nature Medicine to retract paper

courtesy Nature

Anil Potti, who resigned from his post at Duke today during an investigation into faked results, will likely have another retraction to his credit shortly. According to a Duke statement:

Dr. Potti’s collaborator, Joseph Nevins, Ph.D., has initiated a process intended to lead to a retraction request regarding a paper previously published in Nature Medicine.  This process has been initiated due to concerns about the reproducibility of reported predictors, and their possible effect on the overall conclusions in this paper.  Other papers published based on this science are currently being reviewed for any concerns. Continue reading Another update on Anil Potti: Co-author asks Nature Medicine to retract paper

Duke’s Anil Potti resigns

Duke University photo

Duke’s Anil Potti, the Duke cancer researcher who falsely claimed to be a Rhodes Scholar and may have faked several analyses of chemotherapy and cancer, has resigned from the university.

The Duke Chronicle reports that Potti

…stepped down from his position at Duke’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy Friday and took responsibility for the problems in his research, IGSP Director Huntington Willard wrote in an e-mail to IGSP staff.

Willard wrote that Potti “accepted full responsibility for a series of anomalies in data handling, analysis and management that have come under scrutiny in the past months.”

He said that investigations into Potti’s research will continue, as will IGSP’s examinations of Potti’s science.

The resignation follows the retraction earlier this week of one paper Potti co-authored in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

We’ll update as we learn more.

Please see an update about a second paper now being retracted by one of Potti’s co-authors.

JCO makes it official, retracting paper co-authored by Anil Potti

We have a follow-up to our post two weeks ago about a possible retraction in the case of Anil Potti, the Duke cancer researcher who falsely claimed to be a Rhodes Scholar and may have also faked an analysis of how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy.

In that post, we noted that the Raleigh News & Observer had reported that one of Potti’s collaborators, Duke’s Joseph Nevins, had requested that a 2007 paper they co-authored be retracted. The journal told us this morning that the retraction went live yesterday. In it, the authors write: Continue reading JCO makes it official, retracting paper co-authored by Anil Potti

A retraction in the Potti case?

In our very first post, we noted the case of Anil Potti,

a Duke researcher who posed as a Rhodes Scholar and appears to have invented key statistical analyses in a study of how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy[.The case] has sent ripples of angst through the cancer community. Potti’s antics prompted editors of The Lancet Oncology to issue an “expression of concern” — a Britishism that might be better expressed as “Holy Shit!” — about the validity of a 2007 paper in their journal by Potti and others.

There hasn’t been any further movement on The Lancet Oncology study, as far as we know, but on Friday the Raleigh News & Observer reported that one of Potti’s co-authors on a 2007 Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) paper had requested a retraction: Continue reading A retraction in the Potti case?

Why write a blog about retractions?

Post by Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus

The unfolding drama of Anil Potti — a Duke researcher who posed as a Rhodes Scholar and appears to have invented key statistical analyses in a study of how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy — has sent ripples of angst through the cancer community. Potti’s antics prompted editors of The Lancet Oncology to issue an “expression of concern” — a Britishism that might be better expressed as “Holy Shit!” — about the validity of a 2007 paper in their journal by Potti and others.

Unlike newspapers, which strive for celerity as much as accuracy, science journals have the luxury of time. Thorough vetting, through editorial boards, peer reviewers and other filters, is the coin of the realm.

And yet mistakes happen. Sometimes these slips are merely technical, requiring nothing more than an erratum notice calling attention to a backwards figure or an incorrect address for reprints. Less often but far more important are the times when the blunders require that an entire article be pulled. For a glossary of the spectrum between erratum and retraction — including expression of concern — see this piece, commissioned by one of us, Ivan, while he was at The Scientist.

Retractions are born of many mothers. Fraud is the most titillating reason, and mercifully the most rare, but when it happens the results can be devastating. Consider the case of Scott Reuben, a prodigiously dishonest anesthesiologist whose fabrications led to the retraction of more than a score of papers and deeply rattled an entire medical specialty. (One of us, Adam, broke that story.)

So why write a blog on retractions? Continue reading Why write a blog about retractions?