What Caught Our Attention: Last year, a journal retracted a paper about a child who developed a rare complication related to the inherited disorder Gaucher Disease, after realizing it had inadvertently identified the child. It wasn’t an immediately obvious mistake — the authors listed the drugs the patient was taking, and in the case of one drug, there was only one child in the world taking it. For anyone in the know, that would make the child’s identity clear.
So retracting the paper makes sense — but publishing a retraction notice that spells out the issue in detail, including the name of the drug and the fact the patient was the only pediatric recipient, did not. So last month, the Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology corrected the retraction notice, removing the name of the drug. (Phew.)
What Caught Our Attention: Usually, when journals publish corrections to articles, they also correct the original article, except when the original is unavailable online. When Nature noticed that some figure panels in a 20-year-old paper were duplicated, it flagged the issue for readers — but didn’t correct the online version of the original paper. According to the notice, the duplications don’t disturb the conclusion illustrated by the figure, the original data couldn’t be found, and the last two authors had retired. We contacted a spokesperson at Nature, who told us “the information at the start of the paper clearly links to the corrigendum.” Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Yes, a 20-year-old article is wrong — but it won’t be corrected online
What Caught Our Attention: When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) publishes a correction that is more than a misspelling of a name, we take a look. When NEJM publishes a 500-word correction to the data in a highly cited article, we take notice. This study tested the effects of a drug to prevent blood loss in patients undergoing heart surgery; it’s been the subject of correspondence between the authors and outside experts. The correction involved tweaks — lots of tweaks — to the text and tables, which did not change the outcomes. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Big journal, big correction
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: