The editors of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology have issued a “Notice of Concern” over three JACC articles in which Don Poldermans, the disgraced Dutch researcher, served as the first or the last author. The editors relied on the report of the investigation committee at Erasmus Medical Center published in October. In each case the editors have accepted the committee’s finding that although the studies contain numerous examples of scientific “irregularities,” the evidence does not warrant full retractions for the papers.
For the first paper, the committee cited numerous irregularities, including inconsistencies between source documentation and the Case Report Forms and “an unreliable working procedure for collection of scientific data.” But the committee also found no “evidence for any manipulation of the research results by the researchers in the sense of deliberate steering of results into a particular direction” or that “the research conclusions as published in the above mentioned article are wrong.” “It is impossible,” the editors write, for them “to determine the effect of this breach of scientific integrity upon the overall conclusions of the manuscript.”
For the second study, the committee expressed “doubt about the validity of the causes of death recorded in the data base.” The lack of source documentation is “unfortunate” but the editors, like the committee, “could not determine how these facts influenced the conclusions of the manuscript.”
For the third study, the committee found negligence relating to informed consent, preservation of case report forms, and data collection. Although the committee was “unable to vouch for the reliability of the findings” the editors, once again, “could not determine with certainty that the findings of the study were erroneous.”
Here is the conclusion of the editors’ notice of concern:
Since it is not possible for the Editors of JACC to determine with certainty that the findings in the above articles were erroneous, we have elected not to retract these manuscripts. However, given the uncertainty regarding the accuracy of the data, and the inability to validate the collection of data, readers should be cautioned in the application of the findings of these manuscripts to clinical practice.
Hat tip: Marilyn Mann