Journal editors like to believe they are more than mere traffic cops. But here’s a case that makes us wonder.
Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review — yes, there are parts A-D of this — is retracting a 2009 paper which stole liberally from a 1996 article in a different journal from the same publisher, in this case Elsevier.
According to the notice, which appeared online earlier this year and in the July 2011 issue: Continue reading Traffic violations: Plagiarism leads to retraction of transit modeling paper
For those Retraction Watch readers who have been following the case of Anil Potti — who has now retracted four papers — Keith Baggerly’s name will likely be familiar. Baggerly is the bioinformatician at M.D. Anderson in Houston who has been publicly questioning, in letters, papers, and The Cancer Letter, work by Potti et. al.
Yesterday, Baggerly gave a keynote at the Council of Science Editors meeting in Baltimore. It was a fascinating — and riveting — walk through how, after a group at M.D. Anderson asked him and his team to evaluate the Potti group’s tools for predicting whether given patients would respond to different chemotherapies, Baggerly’s group unraveled the Potti research.
In his talk, Baggerly demonstrated all of the mislabeling and other easily recognized errors his team found when they sifted through the raw data. And yet there were a number of wince-inducing moments in which Baggerly described the cool reception he had from several journals.
There have been a lot of calls recently that journals should require that authors deposit their data. There’s none more powerful than when they come at the end of a talk showing how that could have stopped a faulty clinical trial from ever starting.
Baggerly told Retraction Watch he just wants this story to get the widest attention possible, so he was glad to allow us to post his slides. They get appropriately technical, given the crowd, but it’s worth it. You can follow a very unofficial and rough transcript at this Twitter search, since Ivan live-tweeted the talk. Or just click over to the slideshow here.
The British Journal of Ophthalmology has retracted a 2006 paper which purported to show a link between drugs for erectile dysfunction and a rare form of sudden vision loss called non-arteritic anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy, more commonly known as “Viagra blindness.”
That wouldn’t be terribly interesting, except for this: One of the authors of the paper, a researcher at the University of Alabama named Gerald McGwin Jr., told us that the journal retracted the article because it had become a tool in a lawsuit involving Pfizer, which makes Viagra, and, presumably, men who’d developed blindness after taking the drug:
The article just became too much of a pain in the rear end. It became one of those things where we couldn’t provide all the relevant documentation [to the university, which had to provide records for attorneys]
Ultimately, however, McGwin said that the BJO pulled the plug on the paper.
It was really the journal’s decision to take it out of the literature.
The retraction notice is mute on the reason for the retraction of the blindness paper (and, so far, our requests for comment seem to have fallen on deaf ears). Here’s all it says: Continue reading Retractile dysfunction? Author says journal yanked paper linking Viagra, Cialis to vision problem after legal threats
Misconduct happens. So what can journal editors do find and prevent it?
While we don’t claim to be experts in working on the other side of the fence — eg as editors — Ivan was flattered to be asked by session organizers at the Council of Science Editors to appear on a panel on the subject. He was joined on the panel by:
Their presentations were chock-full of good tips and data. Bradford, for example, said that Science had published 45 retractions since 1997. And Laine recommended copying all of a manuscript’s authors on every communication, which could help prevent author forgery that seems to be creeping into the literature.
So we hope their slides will be online soon. In the meantime, Ivan’s slides are here (scroll down a bit so that the entire first slide, and navigation, are visible below the CSE banner): Continue reading How journal editors can detect and deter scientific misconduct
We’ve both been at conferences — Adam at the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists in Savannah, and Ivan at the Council of Science Editors in Baltimore, where he’ll be on a panel today about finding fraud — so we haven’t had a lot of time to run down retractions. But there were a few retraction-related developments in the past few days that we wanted to highlight for Retraction Watch readers:
First, another great investigation by The Cancer Letter and The New York Times, this one into the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) run by Claudia Henschke and David Yankelevitz. The design and conclusions of that trial has been criticized by other pulmonologists.
The new investigation, however, reveals that an October 2008 review of the study found that the researchers couldn’t find 90 percent of the subjects’ consent forms. That, The Cancer Letter notes, could mean a huge number of retractions that could displace Joachim Boldt as the current record holder: Continue reading Roundup: A new record? And paper retracts story about Canadian Paxil researcher-turned pol Kutcher
The debate — in entrenched medical circles, anyway — over whether it’s safe to give birth at home can be fierce. Just last month, for example, Nature reported that a review of the subject in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that found home births more dangerous than those in the hospital generated so much controversy that it forced an investigation. Outside reviewers found problems, but the journal didn’t think they rose to the level of a retraction. Critics disagreed.
The same fraught subject came up in a paper published in Feminism & Psychology last year by Mary Horton-Salway and Abigail Locke. The original paper had concluded:
Our analysis suggests that the normativity of medical interventions in labour and childbirth is discursively reproduced in ante-natal classes whilst parental choice is limited by a powerful ‘rhetoric of risk’.
In other words, NCT classes were scaring women into choosing hospital births. But it turns out that conclusion wasn’t actually supported by the findings, which were based on a review of National Childbirth Trust’s classes. That led to a retraction: Continue reading Feminism & Psychology study of UK birthing classes draws ire, winds up retracted
An investigation by Emory University in Atlanta has led to the retractions of three articles containing falsified data, but the ambiguous wording of the notices leaves us wondering if they are implying more than they state.
Two of the papers appeared in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. The notices in ATVB implicate a researcher named Lian Zuo, who worked in Emory’s division of cardiology.
Here’s one: Continue reading Data fraud at Emory leads to retractions of three cardiology papers
Yesterday, we reported that National Geographic had bought ScienceBlogs. We’ve now obtained a recording of a conference call between various members of National Geographic senior management, ScienceBlogs management, and ScienceBloggers — aka Sciblings — that adds some details.
What we’ve learned is that Nat Geo plans to assume control of operations, editorial content, and ad sales by June 1 of this year. And while a post from PZ Myers post said “basically, we’ve been bought,” and we had further confirmation last night of the contents of yesterday’s post from someone familiar with the situation, we want to make sure to point out, high up, that one of the first things that SEED CFO and vice president of finance and operation’s Vera Scavcic said on the call was that SEED would maintain ownership: Continue reading More details emerge on ScienceBlogs-National Geographic deal
This afternoon, PZ Myers, of the wildly popular Pharyngula blog on ScienceBlogs, started a post with a few lines that set science writers on Twitter abuzz:
I have news. Scienceblogs is going to be folded into a new organization sometime soon — basically, we’ve been bought. I can’t discuss all of the details just yet, but let’s just say it is a prestigious national magazine with a healthy bottom line that will do us a lot of good.
Retraction Watch has learned, from a source familiar with the negotiations, that the buyer is National Geographic. We don’t have any details at this point, and Nat Geo has not returned a request for comment [see update at end], but we are confident in reporting this.
Readers may recall PepsiGate, Continue reading So who bought ScienceBlogs? Retraction Watch exclusive: National Geographic
There has been some news over the past few weeks about Marc Hauser, the Harvard psychologist found guilty of misconduct by the university last year. First, because Harvard had listed him in a course catalog, The Crimson said that he might be teaching again, following a ban. But that turned out not to be the case, as The Boston Globe reported.
Today, Science lifted the embargo on a paper by Hauser and Justin Wood, now of the University of Southern California, showing that results published in the journal in 2007 — and later questioned — have held up. The abstract: Continue reading Science publishes replication of Marc Hauser study, says results hold up