Journal retracts paper “whose topic bears no relationship whatsoever” to publication’s subject matter
The journal Molecules has retracted a paper — “A comparative study of nozzle/diffuser micropumps with novel valves” — that they apparently never should have published in the first place. From the notice, to which the original paper has yet to link:
This manuscript , whose topic bears no relationship whatsoever with synthetic organic chemistry or natural product chemistry and therefore does not meet the aims and scope of the journal Molecules, was nevertheless published on the webpage of this journal due to an editorial error. Consequently, the Editorial Team and Publisher have determined that this manuscript should be retracted and published in a more appropriate MDPI journal in due course. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
How does this sort of thing happen? Was it accepted before the editors realized they’d made a mistake? Or was it rejected, then published anyway, as these two recent studies were? And do any of these authors deserve retractions on their resumes? Molecules editor Derek McPhee tells us:
Nothing much to report on this one – it somehow got processed for Molecules although its topic has nothing to do with Synthetic Chem or Natural Products. I normally only see the papers for final approval or when there are problems – caught this one and returned it with a note not to publish in Molecules but rather in IJMS or Micromachines, other more suitable MDPI journals, and that note got missed too and the production staff went ahead and uploaded it. The retraction was done before the official release of the February issue.
Indeed, corresponding author Chi-Chuan Wang told us that the paper would appear in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS).
MDPI, the publisher of Molecules and the IJMS, has been the subject of a few Retraction Watch posts about, well, strange publishing decisions. The company publishes Life, the journal that ran a paper claiming to solve “the puzzle of the origin and evolution of cellular life in the universe” with gyres. That paper prompted a soul-searching letter from the editor about how it was ever published.
And MDPI also publishes Remote Sensing, whose editor resigned over a controversial climate science paper his journal accepted, because he said the peer review process had failed.
We all make mistakes, of course; we’ll give the publishers credit for explaining how and why they happen, and keep an eye out to see if they occur again.