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On second thought

Ricky Turgeon was reading an article in the European Heart Journal, a prominent publication in the field, when he noticed something odd. The authors, from China, claimed to have conducted an analysis of 13 previously published articles on the ability of a cholesterol-lowering drug to prevent heart attacks and related events in patients undergoing catheterization to assess their cardiac function. But when Turgeon, a pharmacist at Vancouver General Hospital in Canada, looked more closely, he saw that seven of those studies should not have been included in the analysis in the first place. Among the problems, some patients didn’t receive catheterization, and the authors had counted one of the 13 studies twice. Turgeon and a colleague, Andrew Althouse, of the University of Pittsburgh, wrote to the journal with their concerns, and within weeks of posting the paper on its website it retracted the article. However, while the retraction notice hat-tipped “a reader” with identifying the problems, it didn’t credit Turgeon or Althouse by name. That’s typical for most journals — and an omission that roughly 90 percent of Retraction Watch readers who responded to our poll found objectionable.