Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Quick: What does fish food have to do with X-rays? In this case, an Elsevier production error

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An MRI of a fish, not involved in this study. (via Wikimedia)

In 2012, a study claiming to show — after some intentional statistical tricks — that a dead salmon had brain activity in an fMRI won a prestigious (and hilarious) Ig Nobel Prize.

So five years later, when Bálint Botz tweeted wryly about a study of fish and plants in a radiology journal, we thought, “Aha, someone is trying to create another red herring!”

But alas, it turns out the reason a journal normally concerned with X-rays would suddenly be interested in aquaponics was far more prosaic:

It was a production error.

The study by researchers in the UK and Belgium, “Plant and fish production performance, nutrient mass balances, energy and water use of the PAFF Box, a small-scale aquaponic system,” was published online in the European Journal of Radiology on June 7. But it was also published in a journal with a better fit — Aquacultural Engineeringthe same day.

Elsevier, which publishes both journals, said the European Journal of Radiology version would be withdrawn, with a notice that refers to the publication as accidental. We just hope the researchers aren’t tarred with a retraction that wasn’t their fault. (We’ve opined on this before.)

Because that would be…well, fishy.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

June 13th, 2017 at 11:30 am

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