Science Says: What happens when researchers make mistakes - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Science Says: What happens when researchers make mistakes

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer). FILE - This Dec. 29, 2011 file photo shows the entrance to the editorial offices of the New England Journal of Medicine in Boston. On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, the journal retracted and republished a landmark study on the Medi... (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer). FILE - This Dec. 29, 2011 file photo shows the entrance to the editorial offices of the New England Journal of Medicine in Boston. On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, the journal retracted and republished a landmark study on the Medi...
  • NationalMore>>

  • Roseanne Barr in interview: 'I made myself a hate magnet'

    Roseanne Barr in interview: 'I made myself a hate magnet'

    Sunday, June 24 2018 9:56 PM EDT2018-06-25 01:56:56 GMT
    (Adam Rose/ABC via AP). In this image released by ABC, Roseanne Barr, left, and Laurie Metcalf appear in a scene from the reboot of the popular comedy series "Roseanne." ABC, which canceled its "Roseanne" revival over its star's racist tweet, said Thur...(Adam Rose/ABC via AP). In this image released by ABC, Roseanne Barr, left, and Laurie Metcalf appear in a scene from the reboot of the popular comedy series "Roseanne." ABC, which canceled its "Roseanne" revival over its star's racist tweet, said Thur...
    In an emotional interview, Roseanne Barr says she feels remorse for the racist tweet that prompted ABC to cancel the revival of "Roseanne.".More >>
    In an emotional interview, Roseanne Barr says she feels remorse for the racist tweet that prompted ABC to cancel the revival of "Roseanne.".More >>
  • Authorities investigating fatal Minneapolis police shooting

    Authorities investigating fatal Minneapolis police shooting

    Sunday, June 24 2018 9:56 PM EDT2018-06-25 01:56:54 GMT
    (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP). A crowd gathers near the scene of an officer-involved shooting which took place a few hours earlier Saturday, June 23, 2018, in Minneapolis. Police in Minneapolis say officers shot and killed a man who was firing a...(Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP). A crowd gathers near the scene of an officer-involved shooting which took place a few hours earlier Saturday, June 23, 2018, in Minneapolis. Police in Minneapolis say officers shot and killed a man who was firing a...
    Authorities are investigating after Minneapolis police on Saturday shot and killed a man following reports he was firing a handgun as he walked outside.More >>
    Authorities are investigating after Minneapolis police on Saturday shot and killed a man following reports he was firing a handgun as he walked outside.More >>
  • US restaurants host refugee chefs who offer a taste of home

    US restaurants host refugee chefs who offer a taste of home

    Sunday, June 24 2018 9:56 PM EDT2018-06-25 01:56:47 GMT
    (AP Photo/Lorin Eleni Gill). In this photo taken June 20, 2018, Muna Anaee, prepares a ball of khobz orouk, a flatbread she would eat frequently in her native Iraq, at the Tawla restaurant kitchen in San Francisco during the inaugural Refugee Food Fest...(AP Photo/Lorin Eleni Gill). In this photo taken June 20, 2018, Muna Anaee, prepares a ball of khobz orouk, a flatbread she would eat frequently in her native Iraq, at the Tawla restaurant kitchen in San Francisco during the inaugural Refugee Food Fest...
    Restaurants in the U.S. - five of them in San Francisco - opened their kitchens for the first time to a program that allows refugees to showcase their cuisines and culinary skills.More >>
    Restaurants in the U.S. - five of them in San Francisco - opened their kitchens for the first time to a program that allows refugees to showcase their cuisines and culinary skills.More >>

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE
AP Chief Medical Writer

Everyone makes mistakes, but when scientists do, the remedy goes far beyond saying you're sorry. Two fresh examples show how some journals and universities react when the need arises to set the record straight.

On Wednesday, the New England Journal of Medicine retracted and republished a landmark study on the Mediterranean diet, and issued an unprecedented five other corrections after an obscure report last year scrutinized thousands of articles in eight journals over more than a decade and questioned some methods.

Separately, Cornell University said it was investigating "a wide range of allegations of research misconduct" raised against a prominent food marketing faculty member.

The New England Journal's review did not alter any conclusions and should raise public trust in science, not erode it, said its top editor, Dr. Jeffrey Drazen.

"When we discover a problem we work very hard to get to the bottom of it," he said. "There's no fraud here as far as we can tell. But we needed to correct the record."

HOW COMMON ARE ERRORS?

"Retractions are definitely on the rise" and there are 10 times as many corrections as retractions, said Dr. Ivan Oransky, a health journalism professor at New York University and co-founder of Retraction Watch, a website that tracks errors in science journals.

But they're still pretty rare. About 1,350 papers were retracted in 2016 out of 2 million published - less than a tenth of a percent, but up from 36 out of 1 million in 2000, he said.

"The main reason they're up is that people are looking," and the internet makes it easier with tools to detect plagiarism and manipulated images, Oransky said.

Studies are often the main source of evidence that guides doctors' decision-making and patient care, and that's why journals are so meticulous when that evidence is called into question.

ANATOMY OF A MISTAKE

Here's what happened at the New England Journal.

Many experiments randomly assign people to different groups to compare one treatment to another. The groups should be similar on height, weight, age and other factors, and statistical tests can suggest whether the distribution of these traits is implausible, compromising any results.

Dr. John Carlisle of Torbay Hospital in England used one such test to scrutinize thousands of studies from 2000 through 2015 including 934 in the New England Journal and flagged 11 as suspicious.

The journal contacted each author and "within a week we resolved 10 of the 11 cases," Drazen said. In five, Carlisle was wrong. Five others were terminology errors by the authors - Wednesday's corrections.

The last was the diet study on 7,500 people in Spain, which established that eating lots of fish, vegetables, olive oil and nuts could slash heart risks by 30 percent - front-page news everywhere.

Researchers dug through records and discovered that one study site had not followed procedures - if one person in a household joined the study, others such as a spouse also were allowed in. That makes the group assignments not truly random. When results were re-analyzed without those folks, the bottom line remained the same, and the journal is now publishing both versions.

"I've been impressed" with the response, Carlisle said.

His analysis also covered 518 studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association, but JAMA has not done a systematic review, said its top editor, Dr. Howard Bauchner. Instead, the journal asks authors to respond if concerns are raised about specific articles and publishes those as they arise.

FOOD ARTICLES UNDER A CLOUD

Last week, JAMA published an "expression of concern " about six articles by Brian Wansink, head of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, "to alert the scientific community to the ongoing concerns about the validity of these publications" and ask Cornell to do an independent evaluation.

Wansink has had seven papers retracted (one twice), 15 corrections and now this expression of concern, Oransky said.

Wansink said in an email that he has been working with co-authors in France, Israel and the Netherlands "to locate the original data sets and reanalyze and the data in the papers," and that materials will be independently analyzed by Cornell and reported back to the journal.

Cornell's statement says a committee of faculty members has been investigating allegations against Wansink since last fall and working with federal agencies that sponsor research.

"The assertions being made by outside researchers and the retraction of multiple papers from academic journals by the Food and Brand Lab are concerning. Our silence on this matter to date should in no way be construed as a disregard for the seriousness of the claims being raised nor as an abdication of our obligation to explore them."

___

Marilynn Marchione can be followed at @MMarchioneAP .

___

This Associated Press series was produced in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More NewsMore>>

  • Ohio governor candidate aims to unite GOP with ice cream

    Ohio governor candidate aims to unite GOP with ice cream

    Sunday, June 24 2018 3:31 PM EDT2018-06-24 19:31:23 GMT
    CEDARVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike DeWine's 2018 ice cream social is also intended as a GOP show of force ahead of what could be a highly competitive fall election.      The attorney general opened his historic homestead in rural southwestern Ohio to the usual hundreds of visitors Sunday. Besides homemade pies and locally-made ice cream, this year's event includes appearances by members of the party's statewide ticket.      Abse...More >>
    CEDARVILLE, Ohio (AP) - Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike DeWine's 2018 ice cream social is also intended as a GOP show of force ahead of what could be a highly competitive fall election.      The attorney general opened his historic homestead in rural southwestern Ohio to the usual hundreds of visitors Sunday. Besides homemade pies and locally-made ice cream, this year's event includes appearances by members of the party's statewide ticket.      Abse...More >>
  • Suspect in custody in connection with fatal hit-and-run of Mentor officer

    Suspect in custody in connection with fatal hit-and-run of Mentor officer

    Sunday, June 24 2018 2:55 PM EDT2018-06-24 18:55:04 GMT

    A Mentor Police officer was killed by a hit and run driver early Sunday morning. The Mercer Police Departments Facebook page reports that they are seeking assistance in the location of the suspect's vehicle. The officer, whose identity has not yet been released, was struck by the driver around 1:00 a.m., while he was assisting in a traffic stop on State Route 2 Eastbound, according to the information on the Departments Facebook. Reports state that he was taken to TriPoint Medical C...

    More >>

    A Mentor Police officer was killed by a hit and run driver early Sunday morning. The Mercer Police Departments Facebook page reports that they are seeking assistance in the location of the suspect's vehicle. The officer, whose identity has not yet been released, was struck by the driver around 1:00 a.m., while he was assisting in a traffic stop on State Route 2 Eastbound, according to the information on the Departments Facebook. Reports state that he was taken to TriPoint Medical C...

    More >>
  • Bill could expand diabetic's access to therapeutic shoes

    Bill could expand diabetic's access to therapeutic shoes

    Sunday, June 24 2018 2:09 PM EDT2018-06-24 18:09:20 GMT
    Medical-Doctor.jpgMedical-Doctor.jpg
    Medical-Doctor.jpgMedical-Doctor.jpg
    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A pair of U.S. senators wants to use federal legislation to give diabetic people better access to therapeutic shoes.      Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown say their legislation would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients' need for the shoes. Diabetic patients sometimes use the shoes to prevent complications that can include foot ulcers and calluses.      Brow...More >>
    PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A pair of U.S. senators wants to use federal legislation to give diabetic people better access to therapeutic shoes.      Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown say their legislation would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients' need for the shoes. Diabetic patients sometimes use the shoes to prevent complications that can include foot ulcers and calluses.      Brow...More >>
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms