Weekend reads: Prominent doctors who don’t disclose conflicts, and the journals that enable them; a “nudge” study faces scrutiny

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The week at Retraction Watch featured two new names on our leaderboard, vindication for The Joy of Cooking, and a retraction for an antibiotic switcheroo. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: Prominent doctors who don’t disclose conflicts, and the journals that enable them; a “nudge” study faces scrutiny

Weekend reads: Stem cell trial halted; Nazi doctors in the literature; is it OK to cite a paper you haven’t read?

Before we present this week’s Weekend Reads, a question: Do you enjoy our weekly roundup? If so, we could really use your help. Would you consider a tax-deductible donation to support Weekend Reads, and our daily work? Thanks in advance.

The week at Retraction Watch featured the story of how an editor solved a mystery about bad data, a new addition to our leaderboard, and a project designed to identify a common mistake in clinical trials. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Continue reading Weekend reads: Stem cell trial halted; Nazi doctors in the literature; is it OK to cite a paper you haven’t read?

Journal retracts 16-year-old paper based on debunked autism-vaccine study

Andrew Wakefield

Better late than never? Or too little too late?

Those are two different ways to look at a recent retraction.

Eight years after one of the most infamous retractions in science — that of the 1998 paper in The Lancet in which Andrew Wakefield and colleagues in the UK claimed a link between vaccines and autism — the journal Lab Medicine  is retracting a paper that relied heavily on the now-discredited work. The paper, by Bernard Rimland and Woody McGinnis, of the Autism Research Institute, in San Diego, California, begins: Continue reading Journal retracts 16-year-old paper based on debunked autism-vaccine study

More than a dozen papers by Sloan Kettering researchers have now been updated with financial disclosures

Michelle Bradbury, via MSKCC

On Wednesday, we reported that a month after media reports of undisclosed conflicts of interest by top brass at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a researcher there had corrected two papers to include financial conflicts of interest.

Today, The New York Times and ProPublica — which had broken the original story about former chief medical officer Jose Baselga — reported on at least 13 corrections made by Sloan Kettering scientists so far, including the two by Michelle Bradbury that we reported on Wednesday. And we have learned of another correction by Bradbury, bringing the total to at least 14 — and counting.

In addition to the two October 8 corrections in Chemistry of Materials, a correction appeared yesterday in Applied Materials & Interfaces for a paper in which Bradbury was one of three corresponding authors. The correction to “Melanocortin-1 Receptor-Targeting Ultrasmall Silica Nanoparticles for Dual-Modality Human Melanoma Imaging” reads: Continue reading More than a dozen papers by Sloan Kettering researchers have now been updated with financial disclosures

Wansink admits mistakes, but says there was “no fraud, no intentional misreporting”

Brian Wansink (far left)

Brian Wansink, the Cornell food marketing researcher who announced his resignation yesterday and has been found to have committed misconduct by the university, admits to mistakes and poor record-keeping in a statement released today.

But he insists that there was “no fraud, no intentional misreporting, no plagiarism, or no misappropriation.” (See entire statement below.) Continue reading Wansink admits mistakes, but says there was “no fraud, no intentional misreporting”

Cornell finds that food marketing researcher Brian Wansink committed misconduct, as he announces retirement

A day after the JAMA family of journals retracted six of his studies, Cornell food marketing researcher Brian Wansink tells Retraction Watch that he will be retiring next year.

And Cornell said today that it found that Wansink “committed academic misconduct in his research and scholarship, including misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.”

[See an update with a new statement by Wansink here.]

In a statement, Wansink said: Continue reading Cornell finds that food marketing researcher Brian Wansink committed misconduct, as he announces retirement

JAMA journals retract six papers by food marketing researcher Brian Wansink

Brian Wansink (far left), via USDA

Brian Wansink, the much-beleaguered food marketing researcher at Cornell whose work has fallen under intense scrutiny, has just had six more papers retracted, all from the JAMA family of journals.

[See an update on this post; Wansink has resigned, and Cornell has found that he “committed academic misconduct.”]

JAMA warned readers about the six studies in April, by subjecting them all to expressions of concern, and followed up with print notices in May. Howard Bauchner, editor in chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network journals, told us at the time,

Given the large number of retractions of articles with Dr. Wansink as an author there is uncertainty that the results of his publications are valid.

Today, JAMA announced it was retracting the six articles: Continue reading JAMA journals retract six papers by food marketing researcher Brian Wansink

Reader outcry prompts Brown to retract press release on trans teens

Less than two weeks ago, PLOS ONE published a paper about the parents of teenagers who appeared to immediately start questioning their gender identity around the time of puberty. Then the critiques flooded in.

The paper — about a highly contentious issue — surveyed parents who felt that their children had suddenly started to question their gender identity around the time of puberty, prompting author Lisa Littman at Brown University to coin a new phenomenon as “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” Any discussion of transgender identity in young children can get politicized, and this paper was no exception.

The political aspect of the findings aside, readers have raised some serious concerns about the methodology behind the PLOS ONE paper. So far,  multiple comments on the paper have pointed out potential issues in what one user dubbed a “fatally flawed paper” — such as the lack of a control group, the fact that Littman recruited study participants from allegedly biased websites, and only interviewed parents, not children or their clinicians. Brown University even took down a press release touting the study when it first appeared. And the journal has announced it’s taking a second look at the paper.

Earlier this year, The Advocate, a publication focused on LGBT issues, published a commentary titled “‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’” is biased junk science,” after the Journal for Adolescent Health published one of Littman’s poster abstracts. According the Advocate:

Continue reading Reader outcry prompts Brown to retract press release on trans teens

A high-profile paper linked cataract surgery to a lower risk of death. It was wrong.

Late last year, news stories trumpeted the findings: Older women who received surgery to fix their cataracts were less likely to die over the course of a study period.

Now, the same group of authors is saying the exact opposite may be true.

Last week, the researchers retracted their 2017 paper in JAMA Ophthalmology and replaced it with an updated version that reports that women who received the surgery actually had a higher risk of dying.  

The original paper was covered by many news outlets — including Reuters and the New York Times — some of which suggested the procedure may help with more than just vision (even though the study, by its nature, couldn’t determine whether or not surgery caused women to live longer). Annette Flanagin, the Executive Managing Editor for The JAMA Network, told us the publisher tried to get the word out about the significant change to the findings:

Continue reading A high-profile paper linked cataract surgery to a lower risk of death. It was wrong.

Authors retract paper on effects of skipping the flu vaccine

A 2017 paper, when originally published, had a fairly clear message: People who got the flu vaccine every year were no less protected than someone who had skipped last year’s dose. But now that it’s been retracted, the picture is somewhat less clear.

The retraction notice in BMC Medicine doesn’t provide much information — it simply says the authors included and omitted some information that affects the conclusions.

Last author Bryna Warshawsky, the medical director of communicable diseases at Public Health Ontario in Canada, provided some additional explanation to Retraction Watch — namely, that after addressing errors in the analysis, the researchers found that there were actually slight differences; specifically, for some strains of the flu, the new analysis suggests that the flu shot was slightly more effective in people who’d skipped last year’s dose.

Warshawsky told Retraction Watch she and her team have submitted the corrected paper to the journal, and the bottom line message stays the same:

Continue reading Authors retract paper on effects of skipping the flu vaccine