Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Texas participant in physics breakthrough repaid $5M in misspent funds

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utrgvThe Texas institute that participated in the groundbreaking gravitational waves discovery had to repay nearly $5 million in funding after misusing and misreporting benefits, according to audits obtained by The Monitor.

The infractions occurred at The University of Texas Brownsville, which has since become part of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). Once the issues were discovered, UTRGV had to make the reimbursements.

As The Monitor reported: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 6th, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Physics journal retracts paper without alerting author

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An Elsevier journal has angered an author by removing his study without telling him.

After spending months asking the journal why it removed the paper — about a heavily debated theorem in physics — and getting no response, the author threatened to seek damages from the journal and publisher for “permanently stigmatizing” his work. Yesterday, an Elsevier representative told the author what happened: Experts told the journal the paper had a major mistake, so the journal decided to withdraw the study, but failed to tell the author due to an “internal error.”

That explanation didn’t satisfy study author Joy Christian, scientific director of the Einstein Centre for Local-Realistic Physics in Oxford, UK, who has demanded the journal either republish the article or remove it and return the copyright to him, or he will pursue legal action.

Here’s the cryptic publisher’s note for “Local causality in a Friedmann–Robertson–Walker spacetime:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

September 30th, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Physics journal pulls two papers for data shortcuts

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New Journal of PhysicsA publisher is retracting two papers today by a team of physicists who took a short cut in reporting their data.

The papers present a method for imaging very small things — like biological processes on a molecular scale — that could be an alternative to electron microscopy, as the authors explain in a video. But after the papers were published in the New Journal of Physics, last author Ulf Leonhardt, now based at the Weizmann Institute of Science, found out that some of the data

 were pixel-by-pixel mirror-symmetric, which is impossible for genuine experimental data.

One of the researchers co-authored a subsequent paper that acknowledges one of the papers incorrectly assumed the data were symmetrical, and could therefore be extrapolated from one side to the other. A representative of the publisher told us they have not seen any signs of misconduct, and the problem seemed to result from a “series of apparent miscommunications between the authors.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Evidence for subwavelength imaging with positive refraction:” Read the rest of this entry »

Science retracts physics paper after magnetic field wasn’t what it seemed

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F1.mediumScience has retracted an August paper on an interesting electric current researchers observed in a kind of material called a topological insulator. Well, a current the researchers — based at Stanford and MIT — thought they had observed.

A magnetic field with particular attributes reported in the paper seemed to provide evidence of the current. But the researchers soon discovered that the field might have been, in part, an artifact of the very device they used to detect it. The authors, along with a few other researchers, have published that subsequent finding on the physics preprint server, arXiv.

Here’s the retraction note:
Read the rest of this entry »

PubPeer Selections: Spinal injury, theoretical physics, and inherited fear

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Written by Ivan Oransky

December 12th, 2014 at 11:30 am

Posted in pubpeer selections

Physics paper sinks amid accusations of unacceptable “overlap”

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prl-bannerA paper in Physical Review Letters has been retracted for “overlap” with two other previously published papers.

The notice isn’t available online yet, so we got in touch with American Physical Society (APS) editorial director Dan Kulp for more information. Here’s what he told us about “Anomalous melting scenario of the two-dimensional core-softened system”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 19th, 2014 at 9:30 am

Quantum physics paper pulled for “serious theoretical errors,” notice accidentally paywalled

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physicalreviewlettersA paper on photonic quantum walks has been retracted over a theoretical disagreement.

The notice is also paywalled, which the editorial director has assured us is a mistake that is being corrected.

We sent the COPE guidelines on retraction to the American Physical Society, which publishes Physical Review Letters. Editorial director Dan Kulp told us the paywall was the unintentional consequence of a web redesign, and that they are in the process of restoring public access to “all Errata-types, including Retractions.”

Here’s the rest of his statement: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

October 27th, 2014 at 11:30 am

“Several scientific errors” sink physics paper after rewrite opportunity

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canadian journal of physicsWe don’t love this somewhat incoherent retraction for a paper on coherent states, although luckily the publisher was prompt with telling us a little more about what happened.

On October 2, a 2008 physics paper, “Generation of a superposition of coherent states in a resonant cavity and its nonclassicality and decoherence,” was retracted for “several scientific errors,” pointed out by a comment published in the same journal. The original authors rewrote the paper, but it was not up to the standards of Canadian Journal of Physics, so it was rejected, and the original was retracted.

Here’s the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Editorial mix-up leads to duplication, retraction of physics paper

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A missed withdrawal request has led to doubled up publication and a later retraction for Brazilian physicists, through no fault of their own.

Atmospheric Plasma Treatment of Carbon Fibers for Enhancement of Their Adhesion Properties” was presented at an Institute of Physics (IOP) conference in 2010. The proceedings weren’t published until May 2014.

In the meantime, the plasma scientists withdrew their paper from consideration and submitted it to IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, where it was published in February 2013. Unfortunately, in the four year delay between the conference and the Institute of Physics publication, the withdrawal request got lost.

Here’s the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

July 21st, 2014 at 11:30 am

Duplication in physics journal questions key tenet of quantum mechanics

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cmpHere’s a physics question: How is it possible to be in two places at the same time?

Answer: Submit the same manuscript twice and hope the editors forget to feed Schrödinger’s cat.

The journal Condensed Matter Physics is retracting a 2013 paper by a Ukrainian scientist who’d published essentially the same paper seven years earlier.The article was titled “On the origin of power-law distributions in systems with constrained phase space,” and was written by an E.V. Vakarin, of the Institute for Condensed Matter Physics, in Lviv UMR 7575 LECA ENSCP-UPMC-CNRS.

According to the abstract: Read the rest of this entry »