Published: Sat, September 22, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Food research articles retracted by leading medical…

Food research articles retracted by leading medical…

A Cornell professor whose buzzy and accessible food studies made him a media darling has submitted his resignation, the school said Thursday, a dramatic fall for a scholar whose work increasingly came under question in recent years.

Ivan Oransky, a co-founder of Retraction Watch who teaches medical journalism at New York University, says Wansink appears to have engaged in a practice in which researchers cherry-pick data points to get their work published. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Six papers coauthored by Cornell University food scientist Brian Wansink have been retracted by three JAMA journals, according to a statement released today (September 19) by the publisher.

The university sent a statement to the journal network said it could not verify the results because it did not have access to the original data. Soon after he told CNN that he stands by his findings, Cornell said an investigation had concluded that Wansink had committed academic misconduct.

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Plate size influences portion sizes: This study presented the concept of "portion distortion", which suggested a person eating from a larger plate or serving bowl would eat more food. "Their response states: 'We regret that, because we do not have access to the original data, we can not assure you that the results of the studies are valid.' Therefore, the 6 articles reporting the results of these studies that were published in JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, and JAMA Pediatrics are hereby retracted".

Cornell spokesman John Carberry said the university has conducted a comprehensive review of "allegations of academic misconduct" and will issue a statement about its outcome on Friday. One of his seven previously retracted articles was ultimately replaced - and then retracted again. According to that paper, retraction notices multiplied tenfold in the previous decade, while the actual number of published papers increased by only 44%. "From what my coauthors and I believed, the independent analyses of our data sets confirmed all of our published findings".

Cornell said Wansink will spend the remainder of his time at the school co-operating with the university's ongoing review of his research. Wansink said in response Wednesday that he did not keep the original "pencil and paper surveys and coding sheets" after the data from them were combined into spreadsheets. Contacted by email, Wansink said he's proud of the studies in question and is confident their results will be validated by other groups.

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