Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘ACS’ Category

Doing the right thing: Authors share data, retract when colleague finds error

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A pair of chemical engineers has retracted a paper after another researcher was unable to replicate their work, in a case that we consider an example of doing the right thing.

Dennis Prieve, at Carnegie Mellon University, was interested in applying the paper — on how systems of molecules known as “reverse micelles” conduct electrical charge — to his own work, but was having trouble repeating the calculations. So Prieve contacted the authors — John Berg and his PhD student Edward Michor, based at the University of Washington — who supplied him with their original data.

It took several weeks of back and forth to figure out the problem, Michor told us, as the paper was published in 2012, so he had to decipher his old notes. When they found that several incorrect values were used in the paper, the authors issued a retraction notice, published in March:

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Author appeared to use phony Caltech co-authors, up to 8 retractions

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ACBEA journal has retracted three articles from a chemist in Portugal with a history of problems with co-authors and data — the exact problems cited by the new notices.

Specifically, it appears as if Rodrigo J.G. Lopes made up the affiliations of multiple co-authors from the California Institute of Technology, causing the journal to “doubt the existence of the authors.”

Lopes first came to our attention in 2013, when he lost a paper in the Chemical Engineering Journal for including data he couldn’t have produced, as the lab lacked the necessary equipment. That had followed a previous retraction, when Lopes added co-authors without their permission. We’ve since found other retractions for Lopes, bringing his total to eight, by our count. Read the rest of this entry »

Journal retracts nanoparticles paper for duplicating figures

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A paper on nanoparticles that target cancer cells has been retracted for duplicating figures from three other papers.

The articles all share a first author: Manasmita Das, based at the time of the research at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER). According to her LinkedIn profile, she is currently a postdoc at the University of North Carolina.

The abstract of the 2011 Bioconjugate Chemistry paper explains just what the new nanoparticles would be useful for:

Multifunctional nanoparticles, developed in the course of the study, could selectively target and induce apoptosis to folate-receptor (FR) overexpressing cancer cells with enhanced efficacy as compared to the free drug. In addition, the dual optical and magnetic properties of the synthesized nanoparticles aided in the real-time tracking of their intracellular pathways also as apoptotic events through dual fluorescence and MR-based imaging.

But according to the retraction note, figure duplications “seriously undermine the conclusions presented in the research article.” Here’s more about the source of those duplications from the full note: Read the rest of this entry »

Chemist sues University of Texas (again) to keep PhD

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Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 4.34.25 PMA chemist is suing the University of Texas a second time in an effort to keep the PhD she earned in 2008.

In 2014, school officials revoked Suvi Orr‘s degree after finding it was based, in part, on falsified data. Some of the data were also included in a paper in Organic Letters that was retracted in 2011 after some steps in the chemical synthesis the authors described were not reproducible. Orr, currently working at Pfizer, sued UT, and the school reinstated her degree.

Now, the school is trying to remove it again, according to the lawsuit, filed last week. The lawsuit says the school has scheduled a “hearing” on March 4, during which three undergraduate students and two faculty members will deliberate — “none of whom are qualified to evaluate the scientific evidence being used against S.O.,” the suit says.

Orr has requested a temporary injunction to halt the proceedings, and a hearing has been scheduled for next week, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

The suit argues the school does not have the right to strip Orr’s degree from her: Read the rest of this entry »

Data irregularities force author to retract three solar cell papers

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An engineer has retracted three papers on a method for making nanoscale materials that are useful in solar cells.

The papers, all published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, contain irregularities in data, and one includes images “which have been published elsewhere and identified with different samples,” according to the note.

The first author on all three papers is Khalid Mahmood, who — according to the bio from a talk he gave last year on efficient solar cells — is currently a postdoc at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. He did the work in the retracted papers while a student at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, where, according to the bio, he completed his PhD in two years.

Here’s the retraction note for the first paper (which also contains a typo in the title — “electrospay”)

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Authorship dispute fells membrane paper

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A membrane paper has been retracted only two months after publication in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B because of an authorship dispute.

The paper, “Magnetic Interaction of Transition Ion Salts with Spin Labeled Lipid Membranes: Interplay of Anion-Specific Adsorption, Electrostatics, and Membrane Fluidity,” has not been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. (It appears to be taken down entirely, but it looks like you can read its abstract here.)

Here’s the entire — very short — note:

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Written by Shannon Palus

January 28th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Wound healing paper injured beyond repair

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Errors in the interpretation of some of the data — the result of “procedural flaws” —  are to blame for the retraction of a paper on a way to help skin grow back after injury.

The paper explores a method involving nanofibers. According to the abstract:

In this study, tilapia skin collagen sponge and electrospun nanofibers were developed for wound dressing…the collagen nanofibers stimulated the skin regeneration rapidly and effectively in vivo.

The paper was published January 19, 2015 by ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, then retracted eight months later, in August. It has not been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the retraction note:

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Authors retract chemistry letter after new data reveal problems in reaction, structure

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The authors of a letter describing the synthesis of ketonitrones have retracted it, after new data showed that they incorrectly reported the product structures and the reaction mechanism.

We’re not sure what exactly went wrong with the original data in the letter, “Transition-Metal-Catalyzed Ring Expansion of Diazocarbonylated Cyclic N-Hydroxylamines: A New Approach to Cyclic Ketonitrones,” published in Organic Letters. 

Here’s the reaction that the paper reported, from the abstract:

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 1.06.39 PM

And here’s the very short noteRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

December 28th, 2015 at 9:30 am

NSF investigation of high-profile plant retractions ends in two debarments

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Jorge Vivanco

Jorge Vivanco

A nearly ten-year-long series of investigations into a pair of plant physiologists who received millions in funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation has resulted in debarments of less than two years for each of the researchers.

The NSF Office of Inspector General recently posted its close-out report on its decision and a review of the University’s investigation, which had recommended a total of eight retractions or corrections. Although the investigator’s names have been redacted, the text of retractions and corrections quoted in the report corresponds to papers by Read the rest of this entry »

Undisclosed industry funding prompts correction of fracking paper

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Environmental Science & Technology has issued a correction for a March 2015 paper on methane contamination from gas wells after learning that the authors failed to disclose funding from Chesapeake Energy Corp., a major U.S. energy producer.

The paper, “Methane Concentrations in Water Wells Unrelated to Proximity to Existing Oil and Gas Wells in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” came from a group led by Donald Siegel, of Syracuse University. In the correction, Siegel acknowledges having received “funding privately” from Chesapeake for the study, which found: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

May 8th, 2015 at 2:34 pm