Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Retraction Watch: When — and how — should journals flag papers that don’t quite meet retraction criteria?

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This is a post from Retraction Watch, our sister blog that’s unfortunately facing technical issues that are taking a while to iron out. Until we sort those out, Retraction Watch is posting a few stories here.

COPEReaders of Retraction Watch will be no strangers to the practice of issuing Expressions of Concern — editorial notices from journals that indicate a paper’s results may not be valid. While a good idea in theory — so readers can be aware of potential issues while an investigation is underway — in practice, it’s a somewhat flawed system. As we (and others before us) have shown, so-called EOCs can linger indefinitely, leaving researchers unsure how to interpret a flagged paper.

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) agrees that the system has room for improvement. Although COPE has included advice on when to issue EOCs within its retraction guidelines, it has allotted time in the next COPE Forum (Feb 26) to discuss the topic. Some questions it’s considering:

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Written by alisonmccook

February 19, 2018 at 8:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Retraction Watch: “Major advance” in solar power retracted for reproducibility issues

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This is a post from Retraction Watch, our sister blog that’s unfortunately facing technical issues that are taking a while to iron out. Until we sort those out, Retraction Watch is posting a few stories here.

nmat-v17-n2The authors of a highly cited 2016 research letter on a way to improve the efficiency of solar panels have retracted their work following “concerns about the reproducibility.”

Given the potential importance of the data, it would be nice to know what exactly went wrong, and why. However, the retraction notice doesn’t provide many details, and doesn’t even specify if the authors did indeed fail to reproduce the data.

The letter, titled “Graded bandgap perovskite solar cells,” was published in Nature Materials by a group out of the University of California at Berkeley and the affiliated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The 2016 article has been cited 16 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, earning it the ranking of “highly cited.”

Berkeley heralded the findings in a press release as a “major advance” in the field of solar energy:

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Written by armarcus68

February 16, 2018 at 10:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Retraction Watch: Should a journal retract a paper the authors didn’t know contained bad data?

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This is a pom_qjmed_111_1coverst from Retraction Watch, our sister blog that’s unfortunately facing technical issues that are taking a while to iron out. Until we sort those out, Retraction Watch is posting a few stories here.

A medical journal has retracted a 2016 paper over a series of errors, prompting it to lose faith in the paper overall. The authors have objected to the decision, arguing the errors weren’t their fault and could be revised with a correction — rather than retracting what they consider “an important contribution” to an ongoing debate in medicine.

The paper explored the so-called weekend effect—that patients admitted to the emergency department on the weekend are more likely to die than those admitted on a weekday. Whether the weekend effect is real is not clear. Some studies have supported the phenomenon in certain areas of medicine, but others (including the now-retracted paper) have failed to find an effect.

First author Mohammed A. Mohammed, based at the University of Bradford in the UK, told Retraction Watch that the errors were introduced by one of the hospitals that provided them the data:

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Written by Victoria Stern

February 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm

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Retraction Watch: Author retracts Nature paper on Asia’s glaciers flagged for data error

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cover_natureThis is a post from Retraction Watch, our sister blog that’s unfortunately facing technical issues that are taking a while to iron out. Until we sort those out, Retraction Watch is posting a few stories here. 

A glacier researcher has retracted a Nature paper after mistakenly underestimating glacial melt by as much as a factor of ten.

In September, the journal tagged “Asia’s glaciers are a regionally important buffer against drought,” originally published in May 2017 by Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey, with an expression of concern, notifying readers of the mistake. It turns out, Pritchard had missed the fine print on a data set; a figure he thought represented water loss over a decade covered, in fact, only a year.

In September, Pritchard told Retraction Watch that the mix-up strengthened his argument that glacial melt was important to Asia’s water supply.

However, in the retraction notice, published today, he indicated that the mistake affected other conclusions: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Han

February 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Retraction Watch: Six days after publication, paper is flagged. By day 11, it’s retracted.

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logoThis is a post from Retraction Watch, our sister blog that’s unfortunately facing technical issues that are taking a while to iron out. Until we sort those out, Retraction Watch is posting a few stories here. 

Authors of a 2018 paper have retracted it after discovering “the conclusions in the article cannot be relied upon.”

The journal, PeerJ, wasted no time. Less than a week after the paper was published, the journal issued an expression of concern to alert readers to the issue and to the forthcoming retraction notice, which appeared five days later, on January 23. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

February 13, 2018 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

When permissions get in the way: Why a Science journal removed accompanying material before embargo

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Last Tuesday, the AP’s longtime medical reporter Lauran Neergaard realized she had a problem.

Well, not a problem, exactly, but an issue with a story she was working on about a new way to deliver drugs to the brain. Neergaard wanted to use images that EurekAlert!, a frequently used clearinghouse for press releases, had provided along with a study on the subject that was embargoed until Wednesday, January 24. But when she’d sent the AP’s standard permission form to the press office at MIT, where the researchers were based, she was told they didn’t have the right to let media such as the AP use the images.

So, she asked EurekAlert! whether they could grant permission. And that’s when everyone involved learned just how complicated such rights can get.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

January 30, 2018 at 9:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

New Scientist breaks embargo on vaping-cancer study in PNAS

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E-cigarettes — aka vaping — may not involve smoke or a flame, but a study of their potential risks may have just landed New Scientist in a hot spot.

From an email that went out to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) media list at 10:47 a.m. Eastern today, more than four hours before the embargo on the study was scheduled to lift:  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 29, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized