Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘environmental science’ Category

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The retracted paper, which analyzed the physical properties of different kinds of modified rice straw, was retracted for citation manipulation.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

Read the rest of this entry »

“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:
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 24th, 2014 at 11:30 am

‘‘I don’t take whores in taxis”: Casual sexism in scientific journal leads to editor’s note

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Author Stuart Pimm.

Author Stuart Pimm

The Elsevier journal Biological Conservation has put out an apology, but not a retraction, after outcry over a bizarre, misogynistic non sequitur in a book review by Duke conservation biologist Stuart Pimm.

Here’s the introduction to Pimm’s review of Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth, which went online in October ahead of its December print publication: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 21st, 2014 at 11:40 am

At a snail’s pace: Species rediscovered, but paper on its disappearance remains

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biology lettersA few weeks ago, in Weekend Reads, we highlighted the story of a snail species, thought to have gone extinct thanks to global warming, that had been rediscovered.

Now, as first reported by The Scientist, the journal in question has addressed the issue.

Here’s the story: In 2007, Biology Letters published a paper by Justin Gerlach describing the extinction of the Aldabra banded snail. But as journal editor Richard Battarbee notes: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 17th, 2014 at 9:30 am

Authors of three retracted PLOS ONE papers to retract four more, with one researcher resigning

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ChemosphereThe hits keep coming for a research group at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) in Chandigarh, India.

Last week, we reported that PLoS ONE was retracting three papers by the research group because “there are no data available underlying this study and thus…the published results are fabricated.” Now, according to The Hindu, four more papers are being retracted:
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Republished Seralini GMO-rat study was not peer-reviewed, says editor

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env sci europeIn our coverage Tuesday of the republication of the controversial retracted study of GMOs and rats by Gilles Seralini and colleagues, we wrote this about a strange passage in an editor’s note on the paper:

The republished study was peer-reviewed, according to the press materials, and Seralini confirmed that it was in an email to Retraction Watch. But we were curious what “any kind of appraisal of the paper’s content should not be connoted” meant. We asked Seralini and the editor of Environmental Sciences Europe, Henner Hollert, but neither responded.

Hollert has responded to the same question from Nature, which reports: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 26th, 2014 at 12:15 pm