Tuesday, November 19, 2019

WI health science librarians publish in JAMA Network Open!

Congratulations to WHSLA members Liz Suelzer, Jennifer Deal, Karen Hanus, Barb Ruggeri, Rita Sieracki, and Liz Witkowski for their recent publication in JAMA Network Open! 

[Suelzer EM, Deal J, Hanus KL, Ruggeri B, Sieracki R, Witkowski E. Assessment of Citations of the Retracted Article by Wakefield et. al. With Fraudulent Claims of an Association Between Vaccination and Autism. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Nov 1;2(11):e1915552. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.15552.]

Some of you might remember Liz writing about her experience as part of MLA's RTI group last year. This research project stemmed from her participation in that group. 

Liz and her team analyzed citations from the now retracted 1998 Lancet  article by Wakefield which suggested a causal relationship between vaccines and autism. 

  • "My team felt that documenting the retraction carries a great amount of weight in demonstrating that the findings were fraudulent, and by missing out on this important piece of information, people may be under the perception that the work could be valid. The retraction of the Wakefield study is very well known and if authors are failing to note the retracted status of this article, we are concerned that lesser known retracted articles are being cited without documenting their retraction."

In addition to the JAMA Network Open article, Liz was featured on Retraction Watch yesterday and went into more detail about what her team discovered and recommendations for working to minimize the lack of retraction's in citation styles and citation management software. 

Read more in the press release below, courtesy of Medical College of Wisconsin. 


Analysis of Highly Cited Retracted Paper on Vaccinations and Autism Shows Authors Have Trouble Citing Retractions

Milwaukee, Nov. 15, 2019 – A study published today in the online medical journal JAMA
Network Open shows that despite complete retraction, a 1998 article that purported to show an
association between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism continues to be cited in
scholarly works and was the ninth-most cited scholarly publication indexed on the topic of

The six researchers from southeastern Wisconsin health science libraries reviewed more than one
thousand English language, scholarly book chapters and articles from peer-reviewed publications
that cited the 1998 article by Wakefield et al that claimed to show a link between the vaccine and
autism. This study was partially retracted in 2004 and completely retracted in 2010, yet it
continues to be cited in scholarly works.

The investigators examined the context of how scholarly authors cited the study by Wakefield et
al and how, if at all, the retracted status of the study was identified in the work or reference list.
The librarians’ analysis found that most authors cited the Wakefield et al article in a negative
manner, meaning they disputed or questioned the study, and several citing works failed to
identify the study’s retraction.

“Our findings demonstrate that a high citation count for a study does not necessarily mean high
quality work, and that failing to note if a cited study has been retracted can leave readers with a
misperception that the data and conclusions found in the retracted paper are valid,” said lead
author Elizabeth Suelzer, MLIS, AHIP, from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)
Libraries. “Our investigation uncovered significant obstacles that may contribute to the problem
of authors failing to identify retracted works in their bibliographies. Ultimately, each author is
responsible for accurately noting a retracted article in their references, but improvements can be
made by publishers, bibliographic databases and citation management software to facilitate the
recognition and documentation of retracted studies.”

The librarians who collaborated on this study are Suelzer; Karen L. Hanus, MLIS, AHIP; Rita
Sieracki, MLS and Elizabeth Witkowski, MILS from MCW, Jennifer Deal, MA, MLIS from
Advocate Aurora Health and Barbara E. Ruggeri, MLIS, AHIP from Carroll University.

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About the Medical College of Wisconsin

With a history dating back to 1893, The Medical College of Wisconsin is dedicated to leadership
and excellence in education, patient care, research and community engagement. More than
1,400 students are enrolled in MCW’s medical school and graduate school programs in
Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Central Wisconsin in. MCW’s School of Pharmacy opened in 2017.
A major national research center, MCW is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee
metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In the last ten years, faculty received more than $1.5
billion in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, MCW faculty direct or collaborate on more than 3,100 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,600 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than $2.8 million patients annually.

# # #

For more information, contact:

Holly Botsford, External Relations and Engagement Manager
O: 414-955-8761, C: 414-688-7960

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