Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘environmental science’ Category

Investigation finds data issues polluted air quality paper

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1-s2.0-S0013935113X0009X-cov150hAn investigation at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia has found that a paper on air pollution and human health contains a host of issues with the data and its analysis. The paper has been retracted with a very detailed note from Environmental Research.

The issues with the paper include an “incorrect analysis of the data,” and its failure to properly cite multiple papers and one researcher’s contributions. Ultimately, according to the retraction note, the investigation found that the “conclusions of the paper are flawed.”

“Submicrometer particles and their effects on the association between air temperature and mortality in Brisbane, Australia” has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retraction note is very, very detailed. It outlines the problems with the paper:

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“Significant errors in the data” stop Hurricane Isaac paper

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1-s2.0-S0169809515X0010X-cov150hThis version of Hurricane Isaac — based on the force of nature that hit Louisiana in 2012 —  didn’t get very far. Atmospheric Research has retracted a paper on a simulation of the hurricane just a few months after it was published.

The paper included two features that commonly get a paper retracted: erroneous data, and a dispute over authorship.

The 2014 paper only has one author: O. Alizadeh-Choobari, a climatologist at the University of Tehran.

Here’s the retraction note, which provides a few more details on what went wrong:

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Authors object to duplication verdict by environmental journal

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10661An environmental journal has pulled a 2011 paper following an investigation, which revealed it contained “extensive similarities” with another paper published two years earlier by some of the same authors.

Two of the authors of the newly retracted paper — Zulfiqar Ahmad from Quaid-i-Azam University and Arshad Ashraf of the National Agricultural Research Center, both in Islamabad, Pakistan — were the sole authors of a 2008 paper about modeling groundwater flow in Indus Basin, Pakistan. The 2011 paper  — posted online in 2010 — focused on the same topic, but included two additional authors, one of whom told us he was unaware of the previous paper and agrees with the journal’s decision. Ahmad, however, has defended the 2011 paper and asked that the journal remove the retraction note.

Here’s the note, published in April by Environmental Monitoring and Assessment: Read the rest of this entry »

Symposium intro pulled after author refuses to revise following changes to lineup

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Integrative and Comparative Biology

A biology journal has pulled the introduction to a symposium that was published online before the symposium papers had been finalized. After reviewers rejected multiple papers, the author of the introduction — and organizer of the symposium — refused to revise his portion accordingly, so the journal retracted it.

Suzanne Miller, an assistant editor at Integrative and Comparative Biologytold us that the journal ended up rejecting two out of the seven papers in the symposium. When editors asked the symposium organizer, Valentine Lance, to rewrite the introduction — which contained a brief background on each speaker — he told us that he refused to do the rewrite, and said that he “simply quit.”

Miller told us the journal is now changing its practice as a result of this incident: Read the rest of this entry »

Activist group retracts warnings about midwest oil wells

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downloadAfter receiving additional data from the government, an activist group has retracted an analysis that suggested energy companies were not taking steps to cut back on a controversial practice.

The Bakken analysis — named for North Dakota’s gigantic underground deposit of oil and natural gas — was published by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC). It focused on a practice known as “gas flaring” — burning natural gas instead of using or selling it. The analysis, released last month, found that hundreds of wells in North Dakota had not filed the necessary plans for saving excess gas produced in the course of extracting oil from wells. But after the Department of Mineral Resources provided more data — we’re not sure what kind of data, specifically — the ELPC retracted that conclusion.

The group posted the retraction notice on September 25, just four days after they presented the analysis at a news conference. It states why their recent evaluation of companies’ plans to capture excess gas might be wrong — and what they’re doing next:

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Written by Shannon Palus

October 15th, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Authors “did not have permission” to use pesticide data

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10661An environmental journal is retracting an article about the risks of pesticides to groundwater after determining it contained data that “the authors did not have permission (implicit or explicit) to publish.”

According to the retraction note in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, the paper said the data came from a non-author’s PhD thesis, but it’s not there. Those mysterious data were used to validate a model for pesticide exposures, described in an excerpt from the abstractRead the rest of this entry »

Marine mammal injury study retracted for using restricted gov’t data

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Integrative ZoologyA 2012 paper that analyzed injuries to aquatic mammals in China has been retracted “due to the usage of restricted data from the Ministry of Agriculture of China.”

The authors — from Shandong University in China, The University of Hong Kong and the Peruvian Centre for Cetacean Research — “organized the collection of official documents related to strandings, bycatches and injuries of aquatic mammals in the waters of mainland China from provincial fishery administrations for the years 2000 to 2006,” according to the abstract. However, they may not have been supposed to do that.

Here’s the retraction notice from Integrative Zoology (which is paywalled, tsk, tsk):

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Lizards aren’t getting hotter faster than the planet after all, says retraction

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EcographyA paper that raised alarms by suggesting lizards were warming even faster than the planet has been retracted after the authors employed the wrong method to measure temperatures.

Some scientists thought that, because of the way lizards retain heat to regulate their cold-blooded bodies, they might be more sensitive to temperature changes. Well, not in this case. The paper has been retracted from Ecography because the scientists erred in calculating the “radiative conductance of the animal” — basically, how much heat it can get rid of — such that the “broad-scale” conclusions of the study are invalid.

The notice for the aptly named paper “Lizards could be warming faster than climate” reads: Read the rest of this entry »

Kansas ecology prof loses whistleblower protection after alleging misconduct

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ecologyThe U.S. government has denied whistleblower protection for a researcher who was fired from Kansas State University after alleging his colleagues misrepresented data in an ecology paper.

Researcher Joseph Craine was asked to leave K-State after being the “subject of a dismissal campaign” by colleagues when he told the Ecology journal that he believed some had been “fraudulently characterizing field studies,” according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

In response, Craine sought whistleblower protection status from the National Science Foundation — a sponsor of the research — which was recently denied, says the Topeka Capital-Journal:

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A mess: PLOS mistakenly publishes rejected ADHD-herbicide paper, retracts it

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logoPLOS One has retracted a paper that links the most commonly used herbicide to ADHD, after it was “published in error.”

According to the note, the paper was “editorially rejected following peer review and consultation with the Editorial Board,” but ended up going through the production process anyway.

When we contacted the authors, they filled us in with more details.

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Written by Shannon Palus

August 26th, 2015 at 2:47 pm