Home / Science / I’m retracting a paper.’ – Retraction Watch

I’m retracting a paper.’ – Retraction Watch

I’m retracting a paper.’ – Retraction Watch

Kate Laskowski

In journalism, we regularly joke that three circumstances of a phenomenon is a pattern. If that’s the case, the pattern of late 2019 and early 2020 would look like authors saying retractions on Twitter.

In December, Joscha Legewie took to social media to say he had been made conscious of an error that had prompted him to retract a just-published paper on police shootings and the well being of black infants. Nobel Prize winner Frances Arnold did one thing comparable simply a few weeks in the past

And now, the authors of a 2016 examine on the social networks of spiders have retracted the paper after discovering irreconcilable issues with their information — and the primary writer tweeted about it.

In doing so, she was following within the foosteps of the editor in chief of the journal that revealed the paper, who had himself retracted a paper a number of years in the past. Read on for extra.

The paper, “Individual and group performance suffers from social niche disruption,” had appeared in The American Naturalist in 2016. Per the summary:

Here we monitor particular person persona and efficiency and collective efficiency amongst teams of social spiders the place we manipulated the familiarity of the group members. We present that particular person personalities, as measured by constant particular person variations in boldness habits, strengthen with rising familiarity and that these personalities may be disrupted by a change in group membership. Changing group membership negatively impacted each particular person and group efficiency. Individuals in much less acquainted teams misplaced weight, and these teams had been much less profitable at performing very important collective duties. 

But when a query from a reader prompted the authors to revisit their uncooked information, their article rapidly unraveled. 

According to the retraction discover

The authors hereby retract the article “Individual and Group Performance Suffers from Social Niche Disruption,” revealed within the June 2016 problem (pp. 776–785) of The American Naturalist. After receiving a query from a reader in regards to the publicly accessible information, the authors seen irregularities within the uncooked information, which had been collected within the laboratory of the third writer. Unfortunately, the anomalies within the uncooked information can’t be sufficiently defined nor corrected. As such, the outcomes drawn from these information can not be thought-about dependable. We regretfully retract this text, whose outcomes we can not stand behind in full confidence.

To her credit score, the primary writer, Kate Laskowski, of the University of California, Davis, introduced the retraction on her Twitter feed and offered some background on the destiny of the paper: 

In the final tweet within the thread, Laskowski thanks Daniel Bolnick, editor in chief of The American Naturalist, for being “so absolutely supportive” throughout the course of. That doesn’t shock us: Bolnick went to nice lengths to elucidate what went mistaken when he needed to retract a paper in 2016.

‘[S]ource of the anomalies in the data is currently unclear’

Jonathan Pruitt, of UC Santa Barbara, was the third writer of the 2016 paper on which Laskowski was lead writer. We emailed him for remark however haven’t heard again.

One query we had, after all, was whether or not the contaminated information made it into every other of Pruitt’s publications. Although we don’t know the reply, we do know that Pruitt has cited the now-retracted article greater than a dozen instances since 2016, together with in a 2020 paper. At the very least, these papers deserve some scrutiny from the editors to see in the event that they, too, require remediation. [See update at end of post.]

Laskowski advised us that: 

The supply of the anomalies within the information is presently unclear. The universities the place Jonathan collected the information have been contacted about this and so I’d not prefer to remark with what can be my private opinion. I do produce other papers with Jonathan that I’m re-analyzing and am already involved with the related journal editors about subsequent steps.

She added: 

This has been a robust scenario so it’s a reduction to see the constructive response up to now. 

Update, 1530 UTC, 1/24/20: Pruitt has nonetheless not responded to our request for remark, however he did tweet on January 17 saying that his staff can be retracting three papers:

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