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A case in which a retracted paper quickly gets republished - not once but twice!
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HT: @Thatsregrettab1
This is a study that was first published in Clinical Cardiology in September 2018.
It was quickly retracted due to concerns "about data integrity". Original PDF completely vanished, but here is the link (only retraction notice is left):
In this study, 120 obese people were put on 3 caloric-restricted diets: vegetarian, moderate fat, and low-carb. Each group was also split up into with or without vitamin supplements, so there were essentially 6 different treatment groups of 20 people each.
This retraction was covered by @RetractionWatch with the title:
"A convicted felon writes a paper on hotly debated diets. What could go wrong?" Link currently down, but here: retractionwatch.com/2018/11/13/a-c…
Here is an archived RW post, revealing there were serious concerns about ethical board approval and patient consent. The paper was retracted within a month. web.archive.org/web/2019022202…
George Henderson @puddleg also wrote a post about that paper here: hopefulgeranium.blogspot.com/2018/09/egregi…
The retracted paper was quickly republished in a journal labeled by others as a predatory journal, meaning there was probably little peer review done.
Here is version number 2:
There are some reading-worthy discussions on @Pubpeer about original paper #1 here (with comments by the first author):
and the republished version #2 here:
Today, @Thatsregrettab1 found a third copy of the paper, published on June 13 in another "predatory" (not my term) journal.
Here is version #3:
Here is a comparison of the titles and affiliations of the 3 papers. Note how authors and affiliations have changed between versions #2 and #3, making it unclear where the study was conducted.
Statements about IRB approval and informed consent are very, very vague, especially in light of the unclear location of the study.
Huge red flag, because a study with participants with average BMI of >40 is not without risk.
It appears that these 3 papers are all describing the same study.
Let's focus on papers #2 (identical to retracted paper #1) and paper #3, since there are some interesting differences that suggest something is not right.
First, the numbers of M:F enrolled in the study appears to have changed a bit.
Also, the average age appears to be suspiciously similar between all 6 diets groups, assuming enrolling 30-59 year olds and randomly assigning them to 6 groups.
Note identical last 2 digits.
There are also some inconsistencies in other baseline data.
Average weight is reported as 272 lbs, but the calculated average is 275.
Average BMI is reported as 42.4, but the calculated average is 42.7.
Average LDL is reported as 185, but the calculated average is 189.
There are several more of these discrepancies. Each of the groups is exactly the same size (n=20), so the average of the 6 averages should match the total average (please correct me if I have this wrong hahaha).
Then, thinking critically, if you have 120 people and you randomly assign them to each of 6 groups by using a die, how big is the chance that each group get exactly 20 people? Also noted by @puddleg as "Implausible randomisation".
You would also not expect these 120 folks randomly assigned to 6 groups to be so homogeneous in their ages, BMIs, heights, CRPs, and all other variables.
Nor would you expect that all 120 obese persons were able to adhere to a 1500 calorie/day restricted diet plus exercise 3x/week FOR A FULL YEAR.
I cannot even adhere to such a diet for 1 week.
Then, there is another concern. This is a relatively large-scale dietary study with a clear outcome: All 3 diets reduced weight but low-carb diet did not improve cardiovascular health.
One of the authors works at @KelloggCompany @KelloggsUS
Huge conflict of interest.
All these discrepancies, unexpected results, and conflicts of interest raise serious concerns about the validity of the data.
Hey @KelloggCompany do you support the findings and validity of this (retracted) paper? Was this performed under your IRB approval?
And to the last author on paper #1 and #2, @davidgrotto, who works at @KelloggCompany do you agree that the same study was republished as paper #3, with your name removed?
And to the universities whose affiliations have been used to lend support and reliability to this study, do you indeed support this retracted study to be republished - twice - without addressing ethical concerns? @northerniowa and @EinsteinMed
I now expect the usual:

1) silence of the universities /companies whose affiliations were used
2) replies from persons telling me not to bother with predatory journals, and
3) threats by first author to appear on national television.
In case you think I should not bother to spend any energy on this paper, imagine that @KelloggCompany could now use this "peer-reviewed" paper as "scientific proof" that you should eat more cereals.
Papers published in non-Pubmed indexed journals are still included in Google Scholar results, and the general audience cannot distinguish them from well peer-reviewed papers. This is a much bigger problem than one might initially think.
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