Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Nothing gold can stay: gold nanoparticle paper retracted for figure theft

with 2 comments

matresexpA paper on gold nanoparticles has been retracted after the publisher learned one of the figures had a “high degree of similarity” to a figure published by other authors a few months prior.

According to the notice, it was two authors of the retracted paper themselves who pointed out the overlap. The first author, Pratap Sahoo, is not mentioned, although it does say all three authors agreed to retract. The corresponding author of the original paper told us he was unaware of the incident.

You can compare the figures for yourself – on the left is figure 6(a) from the retracted Materials Research Express paper, rotated 90 degrees. On the right is figure 4(e) from “Porous Au Nanoparticles with Tunable Plasmon Resonances and Intense Field Enhancements for Single-Particle SERS,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters:

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 3.09.16 PM

Here’s the notice for “Tunable plasmon resonance of semi-spherical nanoporous gold nanoparticles“:

It has come to the attention of IOP Publishing that figure 6(a) of this paper is substantially similar to figure 4(e) of a previously published article by other authors:

Qingfeng Zhang, Nicolas Large, Peter Nordlander, and Hui Wang 2014 ‘Porous Au Nanoparticles with Tunable Plasmon Resonances and Intense Field Enhancements for Single-Particle SERS’ J. Phys. Chem. Lett.5 370–374

This issue was first brought to our attention by two of the co-authors of the Materials Research Express (MRX) paper: Dong Wang and Peter Schaaf. The MRX Editorial Board has investigated this matter and concluded that the high degree of similarity between these figures constitutes a breach of our ethical policy. As such, this paper is being retracted by IOP Publishing. All three authors of the paper have agreed to this retraction.

Here’s Hui Wang, corresponding author of the paper with the original figure:

I was completely unaware of this until I received your email yesterday. Yes, the authors copied one of the figures in our previously published paper (Qingfeng Zhang, Nicolas Large, Peter Nordlander, and Hui Wang, Porous Au Nanoparticles with Tunable Plasmon Resonances and Intense Field Enhancements for Single-Particle SERS. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2014, 5, 370-374) and used it as their own figure. This is a serious misconduct.

We have never contacted the Editorial Office of Materials Research Express regarding this paper. I am glad that the Editors noticed this and retracted the paper.

One version of the notice was behind a paywall, so we reached out to the publisher, IOP Science, who responded that this was in error and immediately took steps to fix it:

This was simply a case of human error and has now been corrected.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience it caused and thank you so much for bringing this to our attention so we could sort it out.

We’ll be reviewing procedures to ensure this is a one off.

We’ve reached out to the corresponding author of the retracted paper (Schaaf, based at the Ilmenau University of Technology), as well as Sahoo, but have yet to hear back.

Hat tip Rolf Degen

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  • Kadubu Kadubu March 30, 2015 at 9:48 am

    –first author of retracted paper has expertise in nano-fabrication!

  • RESEARCH SCHOLAR INDIA April 22, 2015 at 9:29 am

    whosoever…Just copying and to paste from other published papers is a crime and not a human error.. these types of peoples who play with the ethics of research should be ban from research community and also a letter should be sent to the concern head/Director of of the institute to take a very strong action against him.

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