Paper cuts? Duplication, data manipulation force retraction of study of circumcision by ring device
A group of Chinese authors studying the Shang Ring, “a device that allows professionals to perform hundreds rather than tens of” circumcisions in a day, as had to retract the paper after editors apparently figured out they had changed some dates in the paper so it wouldn’t look as though they were trying to publish it twice. Or maybe they just changed the dates for some other reason, while publishing it twice anyway — it’s not clear.
Here’s the Journal of Urology notice for “A Randomized Clinical Study of Circumcision with a Ring Device Versus Conventional Circumcision,” by Cheng Yuea and colleagues from the Medical College of Ningbo University, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, and Taizhou First People’s Hospital:
It has come to the attention of the editors that the data in this article were 1) published previously in the Chinese Journal of Urology (32: 333–335, 2011), which the authors failed to acknowledge, and 2) that the data had been manipulated relative to changing the dates of the current study. When the authors were asked to address the fact that the material submitted to The Journal of Urology had been previously published, despite their signatures on the form indicating that this material was original and not previously published elsewhere, and the discrepancy with regard to the dates of the study, their response did not reconcile the omission and inconsistencies that were raised, therefore questioning the validity of the current study. Therefore, the editors of The Journal of Urology wish to retract this article.
All of that suggests that this sentence from the original study is, well, a bit of a cock and bull story:
To our knowledge no such study has been done previously.
So what exactly is “circumcision with a ring device?” We’ll let bioethicist Stuart Rennie, of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, handle this sensitive and delicate matter for us. From his blog:
The New York Times has an article about new methods to speed the process of circumcision, complete with pictures of what to the untrained eye look (predictably?) like cock rings of a fairly utilitarian sort. The most promising of these devices seems to be the PrePex, which basically involves putting a ring around your Johnson, and cutting off blood circulation to the foreskin, until the latter comes off ‘like a fingernail’ as one proponent so sensitively put it. Apparently the clinical trials on male circumcision and HIV gave birth to a growing industry in foreskin removing clamps, from China’s somewhat sinister sounding Shang Ring to the exoticism of the Turkish Ali’s Klamp, to the device that terrorized many a South African penis a few short years ago, the infamous Malaysian Tara KLamp. That is the new story: which plastic gadget most cost-effectively whips off the African foreskin?
Leaving aside the notion of cock rings of a fairly non-utilitarian sort, we think you have the picture now.
We’ve asked the corresponding author for more details about how this happened, and will update with anything we learn.