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May 25, 2005

Correcting the Literature—Retraction and Republication

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Dr Fontanarosa is Executive Deputy Editor and Dr DeAngelis is Editor-in-Chief, JAMA.

JAMA. 2005;293(20):2536. doi:10.1001/jama.293.20.2536

In this issue of JAMA, Ascherio and colleagues1 request retraction of their article titled “Multiple Sclerosis and Epstein-Barr Virus,”2 which was published in the March 26, 2003, issue. As the authors explain in their letter to the editor,1 an inadvertent error occurred in sorting of one of the data files used in their nested case-control study. This error led to incorrect matching of the serologic findings from the laboratory analysis and the clinical data, including incorrect assignment of several dates of blood collection. Once the authors discovered this error and reanalyzed the data with the correctly matched samples, it was apparent that many of the data points reported in the original article were incorrect. Even though the main finding of the study was essentially unchanged, correcting the data errors completely would have required publication of an extensive correction, including republication of correct data points in the abstract and throughout the text, along with republication of corrected tables and figures.

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