An article that proposed potential benefits of private equity firms investing in autism service providers has been removed from the journal in which it was published.
The article, “Private equity investment: Friend or foe to applied behavior analysis?” was originally published in the International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education as part of a January 2023 special issue devoted to applied behavior analysis (ABA) for autism.
The sole author of the article, Sara Gershfeld Litvak, “decided to retract the article due to her commitment to scientific integrity and ethical values,” following “a rigorous review process,” according to the undated retraction notice on page 266 of the special issue. Litvak is founder and CEO of the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE), a company that offers accreditation for organizations that provide ABA services, and she co-founded the Autism Investor Summit, an annual meeting focused on the business side of autism services. She is also an advisory board member for Calex Partners, a firm that provides advice on mergers and acquisitions for autism-related businesses.
The original retraction notice did not mention any specific issues with the article, which is no longer available on the journal’s website. A correction notice to the issue’s introduction, published 4 October, says that the editors retracted Litvak’s article “due to the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that led to numerous inaccuracies within the reference and the body of the paper.” A close examination of a PDF copy of the article obtained by Spectrum and Retraction Watch revealed that nearly two-thirds of the article’s references appear to not exist.