Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘environmental science’ Category

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

Sea squirt draft paper published by mistake

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cover (1)

A paper on the evolution and development of urochordata — also known as sea squirts — was published in an under-developed form: Due to the publishers’ “error,” a “preliminary draft” of the article was published online in Developmental Dynamics last year.

The draft has been retracted; we can no longer find it on the site at all. The final copy of the paper has been posted in its place.

Here’s the retraction note in full for “Development, Metamorphosis, Morphology and Diversity: Evolution of Chordates muscles and the Origin of Vertebrates”:

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Author disputes retraction of pine needle paper published “without the knowledge” of all authors

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The properties of pine needles in northwestern China differ — both inside and out — depending on where on the slope of a mountain they are situated. The properties of a recent paper on this phenomenon have recently changed from “published” to “retracted.”

It appears that some of the authors didn’t realize it had been submitted to The Scientific World Journal. The paper has not been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the notice:
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Second correx for controversial paper on the financial benefits of climate change

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Journal of Economic PerspectivesThe Journal of Economic Perspectives has published a second correction for a 2009 paper that argued that some amount of global warming could lead to economic gains.

The author of “The Economic Effects of Climate Change,” Richard Tol, a professor of economics at the University of Sussex, blamed earlier problems with the paper on “gremlins.” In a notice posted last year, Tol wrote that “minus signs were dropped”; he also added a pair of “overlooked estimates” and several recently published studies.

After the first correction was published, several people contacted the JEP to point out more issues with the paper. Editors worked with Tol and outside researchers to update the paper again.

Here’s some text from the newest correction notice:

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A tale of two journals: Elsevier retracts paper after publishing it in the wrong journal

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EMIf you happen to pick up this month’s issue of Economic Modelling, there’s a little surprise on page 307—blank pages. Publisher Elsevier has retracted a paper from that space because it “inadvertently published” the paper in the journal. In fact, Elsevier meant to include the paper in the pages of its other journal, Energy Economics.

The paper, “An Approach to Computing Marginal Land-Use Change Carbon Intensities for Bioenergy in Policy Applications,” is most assuredly not about economic modeling. Rather, it describes an approach for assessing carbon emissions from the production of bioenergy crops.

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

The “worst moment of my scientific career:” Two bird migration articles brought down by analytical error

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JAvianBio_ak19Evolutionary and conservation biologists in Spain are retracting two articles – one from the Journal of Avian Biology and the other from Ardeola – because they discovered a fatal flaw in their analysis.

The Journal of Avian Biology article, “Are European birds leaving traditional wintering grounds in the Mediterranean?” aimed to determine whether the abundance of passerines had decreased in recent decades, but failed to control for birds that may have gotten killed by hunters. Although it was published in January, we can only find an abstract from its acceptance by the journal in November 2014.

The authors detail the saga of their error in the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Citation manipulation the last straw for modified rice straw paper

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jnm_coverThe Journal of Nanomaterials has retracted a paper on modified rice straw over citation manipulation.

Rice straw, which makes up nearly half of the biomass in rice plants, is generally considered agricultural waste. However, in recent years scientists have discovered ways to modify the raw material to make it capable of absorbing heavy metal ions, making it useful to both prevent and clean up pollution from industrial processes.

The retracted paper, which analyzed the physical properties of different kinds of modified rice straw, was retracted for citation manipulation.

Here’s the short (and to the point) retraction for “Mechanical and Thermal Stability Properties of Modified Rice Straw Fiber Blend with Polycaprolactone Composite”: Read the rest of this entry »

Stats error has chilling effect on global warming paper

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global change biologyIt turns out a 2014 paper that found a surprising pattern of plant migration in response to global warming was not so surprising after all — it’s been retracted by the authors due to a mistake in the statistical analysis.

Most studies on migrating populations have found that species around the globe move north to escape the rising temperatures. But the authors of the 2014 paper in Global Change Biology found the opposite — according to their analysis, many plant species in Western North America had been migrating south, toward warmer climates.

The lead author Melanie Harsch told Science in 2014 that the team had been suspicious of the analysis, and so ran it twice: Read the rest of this entry »

Slippery slope? Data problems force retraction of landslide paper

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The Mameyes Landslide, in Puerto Rico, buried more than 100 homes in 1985.  Source: USGS

The Mameyes Landslide, in Puerto Rico, buried more than 100 homes in 1985. Source: USGS

The authors of a 2014 paper in The Scientific World Journal on rock slopes have retracted their article for “erroneous” data.

The paper, “Slope Stability Analysis Using Limit Equilibrium Method in Nonlinear Criterion,” came from a group of researchers from institutions including the Changjiang River Scientific Research Institute in Wuhan, and the Key Laboratory of Transportation Tunnel Engineering at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu. It’s about (we think) how to calculate the safety of rock slopes, and how vulnerable they are to landslides.

Here’s the notice, which as a pretty fair ratio of words to information:

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“I’m so done with it”: Conservationist speaks out against sexism in science

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Amanda Stanley

Amanda Stanley

Last week, we wrote about conservationist Stuart Pimm receiving criticism for casual sexism in a recent book review.

The journal did not retract the review, but it released an editor’s note condemning the language Pimm used, including quoting a movie scene in which a man told a woman “I don’t take whores in taxis.” Some readers have questioned whether this is really an instance of sexism, including here in the Retraction Watch comments.

So we reached out to Amanda Stanley, a conservation scientist who was so troubled by the book review that she wrote a letter to the editor, to be published soon in Biological Conservation. Here’s her powerful explanation of where this fits in the overall conversation about sexism in science:
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Written by Cat Ferguson

November 24th, 2014 at 11:30 am