Chemistry paper in Science earns expression of concern for unreliable data
Here’s the expression of concern, signed by Science editor in chief Marcia McNutt (and paywalled):
In the 16 September 2011 issue, Science published the Report “Unclicking the click: Mechanically facilitated 1,3-dipolar cycloreversions” by J. N. Brantley et al. (1).
After concerns were raised in an e-mail to the editors from a reader, the corresponding author supervised a comprehensive evaluation of all data presented in the original manuscript by tracing all figures back to their raw data files. In over 50% of the figure parts, the authors deemed the data unreliable due to uncertainty regarding the origin of data or the manner in which the data were processed. A confidential investigation that is relevant to these concerns is currently being conducted by the University of Texas at Austin.
Pending the conclusion of the investigation, Science is publishing this Editorial Expression of Concern to alert our readers to the fact that serious questions have been raised about the validity of findings in the Brantley et al. paper.
Bielawski tells C&EN that a former group member, whom he declined to identify, came forward and admitted to manipulating data in the Science paper. Bielawski says that his lab “successfully repeated the experiments in question and found that the conclusions of the report were unchanged.” He has submitted a correction to Science to address the concerns. Neither Brantley nor Wiggins could be reached for comment.
The paper has been cited 75 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.