A food packaging journal plans to retract a 2018 article by Thai researchers who tried to repackage (ahem) a virtually identical article of theirs, Retraction Watch has learned.
That’s not particularly unusual; duplication, sometimes inaccurately called “self-plagiarism,” happens, as they say. What makes the case more interesting is the back-and-forth between the journal and the authors.
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.
Ever since critics began raising concerns about high-profile food scientist Brian Wansink’s work, he’s had to issue a series of high-profile retractions — and now has his seventh (including one paper that was retracted twice, after the journal removed a revised version, along with 14 corrections). The latest notice — first reported by BuzzFeed — is for a paper that was originally corrected by the journal Preventive Medicine earlier this month — and the correction notice was longer (1636 words) than the original, highly cited paper (1401 words). Following criticism by James Heathers about the highly cited study back in March 2017, the authors issued a series of changes, including explaining the children studied were preschoolers (3-5 years old), not preteens (8-11), as originally claimed. (They made that mistake once before, in another retracted paper.) But critics remained concerned. Yesterday, the journal retracted the paper. We spoke with editor Eduardo Franco of McGill University — who provided us with an advanced copy of an accompanying editorial, soon to be published — about the editorial processes behind the two notices, including the moment the journal knew the correction wouldn’t suffice.
Retraction Watch: You write that the initial decision to correct the paper came with “considerable intellectual agony.” Can you say why?
What Caught Our Attention: When authors decide they want to make their articles freely available after they’ve already been published, how should publishers indicate the change, if at all? Recently, Ross Mounce (@rmounce) thought it was odd a Springer journal issued a formal correction notice when the authors wanted to make their paper freely available, and we can’t say we disagree. As he posted on Twitter:
A top US official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was recently appointed by President Donald Trump, has called for the retraction of a paper that suggests the country exports a significant amount of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
The paper, published July 6 in Marine Policy, estimated that in 2015 approximately one-fifth of Alaska pollock exports to Japan were either illegal, unreported, or unregulated — a value of as much as $75 million.
The retracted paper — a 2012 research letter in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, now JAMA Pediatrics — reported that children were more likely to choose an apple over a cookie if the apple included an Elmo sticker. The same day the paper was retracted, Wansink and his co-authors published a replacement version that includes multiple changes, including to the methodology and the results.
The retraction notice lists the mistakes, which the authors say they made “inadvertently:”
On Friday, BMC Nutrition posted a brief notice about the 2015 paper, which examined whether people who pay different amounts for all-you-can-eat Italian buffets feel more or less guilty about how much they ate. The notice says the retraction stems from concerns about the data analysis, and the authors do not agree with the journal’s decision.
The new retraction is the second for Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell.
One paper that was among those initially criticized has received a formal correction notice from the Journal of Product & Brand Management. The notice, which appears behind a paywall, has drawn fire from a regular critic of Wansink’s work, Jordan Anaya, who argues “this correction actually needs a correction, actually several.”
A Cornell food researcher who has pledged to re-analyze his papers following heavy criticism of his work has issued a major correction to a 2005 paper.
The correction tweaks two tables, a figure, and the description of the methodology — and notes in two instances the correct findings are unknown, since the original data are unavailable. Andrew Gelman, a statistician at Columbia University and critic of Brian Wansink’s work, has dubbed the notice the “best correction ever.”