Call for Editor-in-Chief: IJNP

IJNP Header

Applications are invited for the position of
Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Nursing Practice

The current Editor-in-Chief, Professor Alan Pearson, has retired and stepped down after founding and leading the journal for 20 years. We are therefore seeking applications for this prestigious position with one of the world-leading international nursing journals published by Wiley-Blackwell, part of John Wiley & Sons. Ideally, the successful candidate would take over this position from January 1st 2015.

IJNP is a fully refereed journal publishing original scholarly work that advances the international understanding and development of nursing both as a profession and academic discipline. The Journal focuses on research and professional discussion papers with a sound scientific, theoretical or philosophical base.

The successful candidate for the position of Editor will be recognized internationally for his or her academic and research achievements, will have worked at a strategic level within academia or healthcare, and will have an impressive track record of publications and presentations at conferences. The ideal candidate will possess the following skills and knowledge:

  • Leadership qualities
  • Professional standing
  • Sound scientific judgment
  • Broad knowledge of nursing on an international level
  • Awareness of trends and standards within knowledge dissemination
  • Awareness of international ethics and standards for journal publishing
  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Ability to work to tight deadlines
  • Previous experience in Editor-type role

The main functions within this role are: leadership, manuscript handling and quality control, strategic development, and journal promotion. The post involves working closely with the Publisher and the Associate Editors.

Applicants should note that this position requires a weekly commitment of time, with additional days required for meetings. The Editor can be based in any international location but preferably in Australia or the Asia-Pacific region. The successful candidate will start work on the journal in January 2015 or sooner depending on commitments.

Applications should include a curriculum vitae, a short assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of IJNP, and an accompanying letter outlining the skills you would bring to this position and your vision for this Journal and how you would like to see it develop in the future.

A description of the role and information about the journal is available on request.

Please send your application, in confidence, to:
Sophie Suelzle, Wiley, Cremorne Street, Richmond Victoria 3121, Australia.
Email to: ssuelzle@wiley.com

Applications to arrive no later than 21st November 2014.

Nurse Author & Editor: September Issue Published!

smaller bannerI am happy to announce that the September 2014 issue of Nurse Author & Editor has been published and is available online. If you are not already a subscriber, you can register at the website–the newsletter is available at no charge. I encourage all INANE members and friends to subscribe.

This is an exciting issue for me, in several ways. First, it is my first issue as the Editor, taking over the role from Dr. Marilyn Oermann. Second, I am very pleased with the line-up in the issue, with excellent articles written by Cynthia Saver, Thomas Long, Jacqueline Owens, and Thomas Long.

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Dr. Sally Thorne

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the lead article is Predatory Publishing: What Editors Need to Know written by the INANE Predatory  Publishing Practices Collaborative. This article is a direct outcome from our discussion at the INANE meeting in August around issues related to open access, predatory publishers, and traps for unwary authors. It is exciting that our group has gone from discussion to publication in less than seven weeks. I am proud to share this article with INANE and the larger writing and publishing community of nurses. I offer my thanks to the members of the Collaborative for providing content and thoughtful comments and special thanks to Sally Thorne, Editor of Nursing Inquiry for her leadership in pulling this together so quickly and professionally.

As we discussed at the INANE meeting, editors are free to use this document to craft editorials for their respective journals. Similar to the Future of Nursing initiative a few years ago, the goal is to have these editorials reach beyond our members and inform nurses in a broader way about the issues that must be carefully considered around open access and predatory publishers.

If you are an editor and want to use some (or all) of this article in an editorial for your journal, you have permission to do so. There are just three requests that go with use:

  • Please reference the article as follows:
    • INANE Predatory Publishing Practices Collaborative. (2014). Predatory Publishing: What Editors Need to Know, Nurse Author & Editor24(3), 1.
  • Please include a link to the original article:
  • Please send a citation and copy of the editorial to me when it is published. I will keep track and have a report at the INANE 2015 meeting of how widely this content was distributed.

As I say in my Editorial for the issue, I have a goal to strengthen the relationship between INANE and Nurse Author & Editor and I believe publishing this article is a big step in that direction. I look forward to hearing from my INANE colleagues about their editorials and overall thoughts on this initiative.

Leslie

Leslie H. Nicoll, PhD, MBA, RN
Editor, Nurse Author & Editor
Editor-in-Chief, CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing

Lillee Gelinas Appointed Editor-in-Chief

antlogoSILVER SPRING,MDAmerican Nurse Today, the official journal of the American Nurses Association (ANA), has announced Lillee Gelinas, MSN, RN, FAAN, has been appointed editor-in-chief effective June 1, 2014. Gelinas, a member of ANA and the Texas Nurses Association, has served on the journal’s editorial board since its inception in 2006. American Nurse Today is a peer-reviewed journal owned and published by HealthCom Media.

Gelinas succeeds Pamela Cipriano, PhD,RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, who served as American Nurse Today editor-in-chief since its founding in 2006.

lillee“We are excited to see Lillee assume this new role. She has demonstrated dedication and enthusiasm in her long service on the editorial board, and we are confident she will shape its future as editor-in-chief,” said ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN. “We also gratefully acknowledge Pam Cipriano for her leadership in helping to launch and establish American Nurse Today as a respected and valued journal.”

ANA members receive a subscription to the award-winning journal as a benefit of membership.

“Lillee’s amazing passion for nursing and her in-depth understanding of the profession will be a valuable asset as American Nurse Today continues its focus on delivering information that nurses can use in their practice,” said Greg Osborne, HealthCom Media President. “Since her appointment to the editorial board in 2006, Lillee has contributed to shaping our award-winning editorial content. It is also very important to acknowledge Pam Cipriano, whose invaluable editorial leadership skills have helped establish American Nurse Today as the leading source of clinical and practical content in the nursing market.”

“I am humbled and honored to accept this appointment with American Nurse Today,” said Gelinas. “Pam Cipriano’s shoes will be very hard to fill, but with a talented editorial board and an engaged audience, I’m very confident of a successful future. I firmly believe in the journal’s role, which supports nursing practice through evidence-based, practical information, and the platform it provides to reinforce the fundamental role we as nurses play in transforming the health care system.”

Gelinas continued, “Nurses are vital to the care provided today, are well-positioned to help patients navigate the shifts occurring in care delivery, and serve as the hearts and hands of our health care system.  With such an important role, it is essential that we stay in conversation and connected as together we design the paths to our future. American Nurse Today provides an important outlet where the dialogue can occur.”

A nurse leader with more than 30 years of experience, Gelinas currently serves as system vice president and chief nursing officer of CHRISTUS Health, a system comprising more than 350 hospitals, services, and facilities in the U.S., Mexico and Chile. She is a well-respected thought leader and speaker on health care management, clinical issues, and patient safety and quality issues. She has served in various nursing leadership roles, including member of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Nursing Steering Committee; member of the board of directors for the National Patient Safety Foundation; member of the Nursing Advisory Council of The Joint Commission; and many others. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a member of the Academy’s Nursing Informatics and Technology Expert Panel.

Lawrie Elliott Appointed as Editor for JPMHN

Lawrie Elliott has been appointed Editor for the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, succeeding outgoing editor, Dawn Freshwater.

Lawrie shares some of his background and expertise:

Career History

image001I trained as a mental health nurse in Glasgow (UK) in 1977 and qualified in 1980.  I moved into public health research in the 1990s, became a senior lecturer (and Director of Research) at the University of Dundee (UK) in 1997 and then reader in 2003.   I took up my present post as professor at Edinburgh Napier University (UK) in 2005.  I am an active researcher and have contributed to the strategic development of nursing research throughout my career, including research lead for a cross NHS/University ‘Centre for Integrated Healthcare Research’ (2005-2010) and more recently led the Research Excellence Framework 2014 submission for Nursing at Edinburgh Napier University.  

Areas of Expertise

1064_LargeI have a substantial track record in applied research in Public Health and published numerous high quality papers including a report with colleagues for the World Health Organisation on health inequalities (2006). My methodological expertise centres on the evaluation of public health interventions which range from needle exchange, methadone and sexual health programmes to community nursing. I served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing between 2005 and 2012 and became an Associate Editor in 2013. I have also reviewed for a number of international health journals and grant awarding organisations. I have worked on a number of public health nursing research studies commissioned by government including, The Public Health Contribution of Nursing: a Review of the Evidence (2001), and the Review of Nursing in the Community (2009-2012). I also led on the evaluation of Healthy Respect; a national health demonstration project designed to improve the sexual health of young people including vulnerable groups (2012).  I have obtained over £3 million of funding in collaboration with my colleagues including new studies on young people and families funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the Scottish Government which will run to 2017. I am currently collaborating with researchers from the USA, Australia, Ireland and Sweden and internationally recognised researchers from UK countries.

Contact information: Professor Lawrie Elliott
School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Care
Edinburgh Napier University, Sighthill Campus
Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
EH11 4BN
Tel: +44 (0) 131 455 5304
Email: l.elliott@napier.ac.uk

New Editor-in-Chief Appointed for Nurse Educator

marilyn oMarilyn Oermann, PhD, RN, FAAN, ANEF has been appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Educator. This message from the publisher, Beth Guthy, was posted on the journal’s website:

Dear Nursing Educators and Researchers,

Please join me in welcoming  Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN to the role of Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Educator.  As Director of Evaluation and Educational Research at Duke University School of Nursing, Dr. Oermann will bring her rich experience and voice to Nurse Educator.   A prolific author, speaker and mentor, you may also recognize Dr. Oermann as the Editor of the Journal of Nursing Care Quality.  We are delighted to welcome her to Nurse Educator and look forward to the leadership and expertise that she brings to the Journal and to the nursing education community.

At this time we would also like to offer our sincere thanks to Karen S. Hill, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN and Editor-in-Chief of JONA for her enormous efforts as Interim Editor of Nurse Educator over the last few months, and for the seamless transition to Dr. Oermann this February.  Thank you, too,  to the many board members, column editors, reviewers and authors who stepped in to offer strong support and ensure the ongoing success of Nurse Educator after the unexpected loss of our Editor, mentor and friend Suzanne P. Smith, RN, EdD, FAAN last Fall.

Please continue to share your ideas, contents and expertise with Nurse Educator.  We are looking forward to an exciting 2014 as Dr. Oermann takes the helm and works with the editorial board  to grow Nurse Educator, maintain relevance through outstanding evidence-based content and increase our reach in the education segment.

Beth L. Guthy
Publisher, Nurse Educator

Congratulations to Marilyn! Please leave best wishes or other words of encouragement for her in the comments.

COPE Digest: A New Newsletter Resource

Ginny Barbour, COPE Cahir

COPE (the Committee on Publication Ethics) has created a new newsletter. The inaugural issue can be found here.  As described in the Letter from the Chair:

Welcome to the inaugural edition of COPE Digest: Publication ethics in practice. Our aim was for a newsletter that was able to provide a timely resource on publication ethics, in a format that makes it easy to browse and reflect what COPE does best—provide practical support to members. The newsletter will therefore be coming out monthly and we intend it to reflect the dynamic nature of information on the web nowadays with links to content from within and external to COPE. The newsletter has come to life thanks to the inspiration, experience and work of three key members of COPE: Natalie Ridgeway, COPE Operations Manager, Irene Hames, COPE Council member, and Charlotte Haug, COPE Vice-Chair.

This looks like a great resource. I would suggest everyone bookmark the site and check back monthly.

Dr. Spitzer Writes the Letter That He Needed to Write

I posted last week about Dr. Robert Spitzer and his requested retraction of his work, published in 2003 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. He wanted the retraction to occur via an online article not related to the original publication. I asked if this was really a retraction or a repudiation. Several commenters suggested that what Spitzer needed to do was write to Dr. Ken Zucker, editor of the journal. Dr. Zucker had even indicated that he would be receptive to receiving and publishing such a letter.

Well, Spitzer’s done what he needed to do. The letter is written to Zucker and has been shared as an exclusive with Truth Wins Out. (For those who might not know, Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism. This includes debunking myths about “reparative therapy.”)

The letter starts out:

Several months ago I told you that because of my revised view of my 2001 study of reparative therapy changing sexual orientation, I was considering writing something that would acknowledge that I now judged the major critiques of the study as largely correct. After discussing my revised view of the study with Gabriel Arana, a reporter for American Prospect, and with Malcolm Ritter, an Associated Press science writer, I decided that I had to make public my current thinking about the study. Here it is.

To read the whole thing, click here.

It does not say in the blog if the letter will be be published in the journal but I certainly hope it will be. That will set the matter straight in the scientific indexes (such as PubMed) which needs to be done.

Good for Dr. Spitzer for doing the right thing, at last, but it is unfortunate that 11 years have passed since the original study “results” were presented at the APA annual meeting. As many said in the comments to my first post, this research did not have just scientific implications but also social and political and has been damaging to the LGBTQ community. Let’s hope his repudiation can help to put the nail in the coffin of “reparative therapy,” once and for all.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

More on Retraction…from the New York Times

Given the previous post and discussion, I thought this would be of interest to the group.

A Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform

By CARL ZIMMER

Dr. Ferric C. Fang

In the fall of 2010, Dr. Ferric C. Fang made an unsettling discovery. Dr. Fang, who is editor in chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, found that one of his authors had doctored several papers.

It was a new experience for him. “Prior to that time,” he said in an interview, “Infection and Immunity had only retracted nine articles over a 40-year period.”

The journal wound up retracting six of the papers from the author, Naoki Mori of the University of the Ryukyus in Japan. And it soon became clear that Infection and Immunity was hardly the only victim of Dr. Mori’s misconduct. Since then, other scientific journals have retracted two dozen of his papers, according to the watchdog blog Retraction Watch.

“Nobody had noticed the whole thing was rotten,” said Dr. Fang, who is a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Dr. Fang became curious how far the rot extended. To find out, he teamed up with a fellow editor at the journal, Dr. Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. And before long they reached a troubling conclusion: not only that retractions were rising at an alarming rate, but that retractions were just a manifestation of a much more profound problem — “a symptom of a dysfunctional scientific climate,” as Dr. Fang put it.

Dr. Casadevall, now editor in chief of the journal mBio, said he feared that science had turned into a winner-take-all game with perverse incentives that lead scientists to cut corners and, in some cases, commit acts of misconduct.

“This is a tremendous threat,” he said.

Last month, in a pair of editorials in Infection and Immunity, the two editors issued a plea for fundamental reforms. They also presented their concerns at the March 27 meeting of the National Academies of Sciences committee on science, technology and the law.

Members of the committee agreed with their assessment. “I think this is really coming to a head,” said Dr. Roberta B. Ness, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health. And Dr. David Korn of Harvard Medical School agreed that “there are problems all through the system.”

o one claims that science was ever free of misconduct or bad research. Indeed, the scientific method itself is intended to overcome mistakes and misdeeds. When scientists make a new discovery, others review the research skeptically before it is published. And once it is, the scientific community can try to replicate the results to see if they hold up.

But critics like Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall argue that science has changed in some worrying ways in recent decades — especially biomedical research, which consumes a larger and larger share of government science spending.

In October 2011, for example, the journal Nature reported that published retractions had increased tenfold over the past decade, while the number of published papers had increased by just 44 percent. In 2010 The Journal of Medical Ethics published a study finding the new raft of recent retractions was a mix of misconduct and honest scientific mistakes.

Several factors are at play here, scientists say. One may be that because journals are now online, bad papers are simply reaching a wider audience, making it more likely that errors will be spotted. “You can sit at your laptop and pull a lot of different papers together,” Dr. Fang said.

But other forces are more pernicious. To survive professionally, scientists feel the need to publish as many papers as possible, and to get them into high-profile journals. And sometimes they cut corners or even commit misconduct to get there.

To measure this claim, Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall looked at the rate of retractions in 17 journals from 2001 to 2010 and compared it with the journals’ “impact factor,” a score based on how often their papers are cited by scientists. The higher a journal’s impact factor, the two editors found, the higher its retraction rate.

The highest “retraction index” in the study went to one of the world’s leading medical journals, The New England Journal of Medicine. In a statement for this article, it questioned the study’s methodology, noting that it considered only papers with abstracts, which are included in a small fraction of studies published in each issue. “Because our denominator was low, the index was high,” the statement said.

Monica M. Bradford, executive editor of the journal Science, suggested that the extra attention high-impact journals get might be part of the reason for their higher rate of retraction. “Papers making the most dramatic advances will be subject to the most scrutiny,” she said.

Dr. Fang says that may well be true, but adds that it cuts both ways — that the scramble to publish in high-impact journals may be leading to more and more errors. Each year, every laboratory produces a new crop of Ph.D.’s, who must compete for a small number of jobs, and the competition is getting fiercer. In 1973, more than half of biologists had a tenure-track job within six years of getting a Ph.D. By 2006 the figure was down to 15 percent.

Yet labs continue to have an incentive to take on lots of graduate students to produce more research. “I refer to it as a pyramid scheme,” said Paula Stephan, a Georgia State University economist and author of “How Economics Shapes Science,” published in January by Harvard University Press.

In such an environment, a high-profile paper can mean the difference between a career in science or leaving the field. “It’s becoming the price of admission,” Dr. Fang said.

The scramble isn’t over once young scientists get a job. “Everyone feels nervous even when they’re successful,” he continued. “They ask, ‘Will this be the beginning of the decline?’ ”

University laboratories count on a steady stream of grants from the government and other sources. The National Institutes of Health accepts a much lower percentage of grant applications today than in earlier decades. At the same time, many universities expect scientists to draw an increasing part of their salaries from grants, and these pressures have influenced how scientists are promoted.

“What people do is they count papers, and they look at the prestige of the journal in which the research is published, and they see how many grant dollars scientists have, and if they don’t have funding, they don’t get promoted,” Dr. Fang said. “It’s not about the quality of the research.”

Dr. Ness likens scientists today to small-business owners, rather than people trying to satisfy their curiosity about how the world works. “You’re marketing and selling to other scientists,” she said. “To the degree you can market and sell your products better, you’re creating the revenue stream to fund your enterprise.”

Universities want to attract successful scientists, and so they have erected a glut of science buildings, Dr. Stephan said. Some universities have gone into debt, betting that the flow of grant money will eventually pay off the loans. “It’s really going to bite them,” she said.

With all this pressure on scientists, they may lack the extra time to check their own research — to figure out why some of their data doesn’t fit their hypothesis, for example. Instead, they have to be concerned about publishing papers before someone else publishes the same results.

“You can’t afford to fail, to have your hypothesis disproven,” Dr. Fang said. “It’s a small minority of scientists who engage in frank misconduct. It’s a much more insidious thing that you feel compelled to put the best face on everything.”

Adding to the pressure, thousands of new Ph.D. scientists are coming out of countries like China and India. Writing in the April 5 issue of Nature, Dr. Stephan points out that a number of countries — including China, South Korea and Turkey — now offer cash rewards to scientists who get papers into high-profile journals. She has found these incentives set off a flood of extra papers submitted to those journals, with few actually being published in them. “It clearly burdens the system,” she said.

To change the system, Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall say, start by giving graduate students a better understanding of science’s ground rules — what Dr. Casadevall calls “the science of how you know what you know.”

They would also move away from the winner-take-all system, in which grants are concentrated among a small fraction of scientists. One way to do that may be to put a cap on the grants any one lab can receive.

Such a shift would require scientists to surrender some of their most cherished practices — the priority rule, for example, which gives all the credit for a scientific discovery to whoever publishes results first. (Three centuries ago, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz were bickering about who invented calculus.) Dr. Casadevall thinks it leads to rival research teams’ obsessing over secrecy, and rushing out their papers to beat their competitors. “And that can’t be good,” he said.

To ease such cutthroat competition, the two editors would also change the rules for scientific prizes and would have universities take collaboration into account when they decide on promotions.

Ms. Bradford, of Science magazine, agreed. “I would agree that a scientist’s career advancement should not depend solely on the publications listed on his or her C.V.,” she said, “and that there is much room for improvement in how scientific talent in all its diversity can be nurtured.”

Even scientists who are sympathetic to the idea of fundamental change are skeptical that it will happen any time soon. “I don’t think they have much chance of changing what they’re talking about,” said Dr. Korn, of Harvard.

But Dr. Fang worries that the situation could be become much more dire if nothing happens soon. “When our generation goes away, where is the new generation going to be?” he asked. “All the scientists I know are so anxious about their funding that they don’t make inspiring role models. I heard it from my own kids, who went into art and music respectively. They said, ‘You know, we see you, and you don’t look very happy.’ ”

Source: The New York Times

An Interesting Situation: Repudiation or Retraction?

An interesting situation is unfolding in the blogosphere (and I assume, eventually the news) today which I wanted to bring to my colleagues’ attention–and I hope, generate some discussion. It’s a question of words and perhaps semantics but I think in this case, the words have a great deal of meaning as well as repercussions for science now and into the future. A recap of the situation:

In 2001, Robert Spitzer, MD, conducted structured interviews with 200 participants who had undergone some form of “reparative therapy,” which is the name for the theory that  homosexual sexual orientation can be changed by psychotherapy. He published his findings in 2003 in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, a peer reviewed journal that is the official publication of the International Academy of Sex Research. (For anyone who is curious, it has an impact factor of 3.66).

Since the publication of this paper, many “ex-gay” organizations, such as Focus on the Family and PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays) have touted Spitzer’s findings as “proof” that sexual orientation can be changed permanently. Spitzer has long claimed that this is a misinterpretation of his findings and has tried to distance himself from these groups. (I think it is worth noting that Spitzer led the 1973 effort to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness.)

Today (April 11, 2012) The American Prospect published a lengthy article by Gabriel Arana, a man who himself had undergone “reparative therapy” in the late 1990s. Titled “My So-Called Ex-Gay Life,” the article promises (and delivers) “a deep look at the fringe movement that just lost its only shred of scientific support.”

In the article, Arana includes an interview with Spitzer, asking him about his research from 2001. As part of the conversation, Arana writes:

Spitzer was drawn to the topic of ex-gay therapy because it was controversial—“I was always attracted to controversy”—but was troubled by how the study was received. He did not want to suggest that gay people should pursue ex-gay therapy. His goal was to determine whether the counterfactual—the claim that no one had ever changed his or her sexual orientation through therapy—was true.

I asked about the criticisms leveled at him. “In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct,” he said. “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.” He said he spoke with the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior about writing a retraction, but the editor declined. (Repeated attempts to contact the journal went unanswered.)

Spitzer said that he was proud of having been instrumental in removing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. Now 80 and retired, he was afraid that the 2001 study would tarnish his legacy and perhaps hurt others. He said that failed attempts to rid oneself of homosexual attractions “can be quite harmful.” He has, though, no doubts about the 1973 fight over the classification of homosexuality.

At the conclusion of the section with Spitzer’s interview, comes this comment:

Spitzer was growing tired and asked how many more questions I had. Nothing, I responded, unless you have something to add.

He did. Would I print a retraction of his 2001 study, “so I don’t have to worry about it anymore”?

This last statement is what has the blogosphere hopping. Towleroad, Good As You, AmericaBlog, and Truth Wins Out have all reported on the “retraction.” Now let me go on record as saying that I am delighted with this turn of events and the fact that Dr. Spitzer has declared publicly that he no longer stands behind his findings. But (and maybe I am splitting hairs here, but I don’t think so), this isn’t a retraction, it’s a repudiation. A retraction would need to occur with action by the journal editor and/or the International Academy of Sex Research. Until that happens, the article will continue to be indexed at various sites, including MEDLINE, with no indication that the author no longer supports his work.

Note that if the article is retracted, this information will be included with the original citation. The picture below is an example from a recent high-profile retraction from Lancet.

A question that comes to mind (and one I would like to discuss) is when does an editor take action? Note that in Arana’s article, Spitzer says he contacted the editor about a retraction but that “the editor declined.” Certainly, as an editor, a retraction is a very serious step and not one that is taken lightly. I can understand why an editor might be reluctant to take action based on a request from an author.

However, what I think what is interesting about this case, and a bit of a different twist from retracted articles that I have read about in the past, is that in this situation it is the author who no longer supports his work. I think more commonly, the issue comes to light through an investigation of scientific misconduct, falsification of data, fraudulent findings and so on. Indeed, Andrew Wakefield, author of the retracted Lancet article continues to maintain that his research was sound and that there was no evidence of a hoax or fraud.

Even though the editor of The Archives of Sexual Behavior  made an initial decision, should he do something now? If so, what? One option is to let the article stand–take no action as originally intended. The case could be made that the paper went through the usual peer review process and was found to be sound–what has changed is that the findings are no longer relevant, particularly in light of the author’s change of heart. I am sure it wouldn’t take much digging to find many examples of studies that have been previously published and are not longer accurate or meaningful. Are people taking steps to retract those papers? I don’t think so.

On the other hand, if the journal takes no official action, how are others to learn of the repudiation of the work? While it remains in the extant body of literature, it can be cited, quoted, and put forth as evidence that “reparative therapy” should be considered as an intervention for those persons who are uncomfortable with their sexual identity. Organizations such as those mentioned earlier are free to leave the citation on their websites and in their literature. Is this ethically defensible?

Writing this has helped me clarify in my mind what I would do as an editor: retract the paper given the circumstances. But I welcome discussion from my colleagues because I think this is an important, timely, ethical, and complex issue and I am interested in  viewpoints other than mine. I look forward to  your comments.

Citation: Spitzer RL. Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation? 200 participants reporting a change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation. Arch Sex Behav. 2003 Oct;32(5):403-17; discussion 419-72. PubMed PMID: 14567650.

Peer Review Congress

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Seventh International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication will be held September 8-10, 2013, in Chicago, IL. As with the previous Congresses, our aim is to improve the quality and credibility of biomedical peer review and publication and to help advance the efficiency, effectiveness, and equitability of the dissemination of biomedical information throughout the world.

These congresses are held every 4 years. Additional information on the Seventh Congress will be available soon.

Updated information will be posted at this site.

You can read the Call for Research here and a list of suggested topics here.