Reused figures lead to two chemistry retractions, one correction
That’s the sort of thinking that got one research group slapped with a retraction of their 2009 study, “Carbon Nanotubes Are Able To Penetrate Plant Seed Coat and Dramatically Affect Seed Germination and Plant Growth.”
The journal ACS Nano, published by the American Chemical Society, issued the retraction on Aug. 20:
This paper was withdrawn due to violations of the Ethical Guidelines to Publication of Chemical Research of the American Chemical Society for reason of unacceptable redundant inclusion of text and graphics from two works previously published in other journals (Morphology of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Affected by the Thermal Stability of the Catalyst System. E. Dervishi, Z. Li, A. R. Biris, D. Lupu, S. Trigwell, A. S. Biris. DOI: 10.1021/cm062237l; Influence of the RF Excitation of the Catalyst System on the Morphology of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes. A. S. Biris, T. C. Schmitt, R. B. Little, Z. Li, Y. Xu, A. R. Biris, D. Lupu, E. Dervishi, S. Trigwell, D. W. Miller, Z. Rahman. DOI: 10.1021/jp0740346). Specifically, Figures 1b, 1c, and 1d were reproduced from these sources without acknowledging their prior use. In addition, Figure 1a was also previously published in another article (Analysis of effluent gases during the CCVD growth of multi-wall carbon nanotubes from acetylene. T.C. Schmitt, A.S. Biris, D.W. Miller, A.R. Biris, D. Lupu, S. Trigwell, Z.U. Rahman. DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2006.01.008).
Manuscript DOI: 10.1021/jp0740346 has also been withdrawn. The original ACS Nano paper was published ASAP on September 22, 2009, and withdrawn on August 20, 2012.
The second withdrawn paper to which the notice refers is “Influence of the RF Excitation of the Catalyst System on the Morphology of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C. The two papers were cited 46 times and 15 times, respectively, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
The repeated figures also led to a correction of another ACS journal, Chemistry of Materials, for “Morphology of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Affected by the Thermal Stability of the Catalyst System:”
This article was found to contain data and graphics that were improperly included and misused in two papers subsequently published in other journals by the same authors (ACS Nano 2009, 3, 3221−3227, DOI: 10.1021/nn900887m; J. Phys. Chem. C 2007, 111, 17970−17975, DOI: 10.1021/jp0740346). The ACS Nano and J. Phys. Chem. C articles have since been retracted. Moreover, two figures in this article (2a and 2c) are the same as those contained in another paper (Carbon 2006, 44, 2032−2038; DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2006.01.008; Figures 1a and 2) and were not acknowledged as such in the Chem. Mater. paper.
Alexandru S. Biris, the lead investigator on the retracted paper, was one of seven winners of the 2011 faculty excellence award for research at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he leads the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences.
Biris did not respond to several phone calls or email messages, and a spokesperson for the university for UALR did not return calls for comment.
We’ll let you know if we find out more. In the meantime, we’ll remind Retraction Watch readers that ACS Nano takes duplication — a.k.a. self-plagiarism — quite seriously, as we reported last year.