Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘environmental science’ Category

Journal retracts groundwater pollution paper for plagiarism

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ecotoxThe journal Ecotoxicology has retracted a paper that described a way to analyze nitrates in groundwater after discovering the authors had lifted a substantial amount of material from three other papers.

Here is the retraction notice for “Isotopic analysis of N and O in NO3 – by selective bacterial reduction to N2O for groundwater pollution:” Read the rest of this entry »

How much do oil spills cost? Controversy over paper oozes into larger debate

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622871A controversy surrounding a 2014 Journal of Environmental Management paper has tapped into a larger scientific and economic issue — how to tally up the damage after an oil spill.

The original paper, called “A revealed preference approach to valuing non-market recreational fishing losses from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” estimates the 2010 explosion of the BP-owned drilling rig cost the Gulf-Coast recreational saltwater angler fishing industry alone nearly $600 million. But Kenneth Train, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley has questioned the methods used — both publicly, in a comment that was published in the Journal of Environmental Management, and privately through personal calls with the authors. The first author says Train asked them to retract the paper; he denies ever making that request. While Train, in his comment, says he doubts the accuracy of the $600 million estimate, he does not provide an alternative number.

Train was hired to review the study by BP, which owned the well that spilled millions of oil barrels into the Gulf.

Calculating the cost of oil spills is controversial. Since the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, Read the rest of this entry »

Paper calls water “a gift from God”

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renewableA paper about using solar energy to make water potable has been flagged for citing God.

The shout-out isn’t subtle; in fact, it’s the first sentence of the Introduction in “Solar still with condenser – A detailed review:”

Water is a gift from God and it plays a key role in the development of an economy and in turn for the welfare of a nation.

The paper itself contains a few similarities to a 2010 paper on the same topic, “Active solar distillation—A detailed review,” which also appeared in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. But that paper phrases the first sentence of the introduction slightly differently: Read the rest of this entry »

Environmental journal pulls two papers for “compromised” peer review

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EGAHEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health has retracted two papers after an investigation suggested that the peer-review process had been compromised.

In case you’re counting, we’ve now logged approximately 300 retractions stemming from likely faked or rigged peer review.

The retraction note — which is the same for both papers — explains a bit more about the situation: Read the rest of this entry »

Another paper by GM researcher pulled over manipulation concerns

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Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.52.18 AMA researcher who published findings questioning the safety of genetically modified organisms has lost a second paper following concerns of image manipulation.

Last week, the journal animal retracted a 2010 paper by Federico Infascelli, an animal nutrition researcher at the University of Naples, which claimed to find modified genes in the milk and blood of goats who were fed genetically modified soybeans. The retraction stems from an investigation that concluded the authors likely manipulated images, according to the note. Earlier this year, another journal retracted one of Infascelli’s papers that contained a duplicated figure.

In February, Italian paper La Repubblica (which we read with Google Translate) reported that the university found problems in three of his articles and issued a warning.

Here’s the retraction note for “Fate of transgenic DNA and evaluation of metabolic effects in goats fed genetically modified soybean and in their offsprings:”

Read the rest of this entry »

Desalination journal let a plagiarized paper — from the same journal — through its filter

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The editor of Desalination has retracted a paper that plagiarized from another article published in the same journal six years earlier. The papers describe desalination systems, of course.

This retraction happened on a relatively quick timeline: The paper, “An integrated optimization model and application of MEE-TVC desalination system,” was published online in June, and pulled in January.

Here’s the retraction note:

Read the rest of this entry »

Journal retracts bioelectronics paper for lack of credit to collaborators

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S09565663The list of co-authors on a paper about a “bioelectronic composite” was apparently too sparse.

According to its retraction note — posted at the request of the editor-in-chief and the corresponding author — the paper failed to include some of the collaborators.

The Biosensors & Bioelectronics paper looks at a protein complex that could function as part of a “bio-hybrid” device, like a sensor or a solar cell. It has been cited only by its retraction according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

What went wrong in allotting credit for the work pretty straightforward, according to the note for “Monolayers of pigment–protein complexes on a bare gold electrode: Orientation controlled deposition and comparison of electron transfer rate for two configurations.” Here it is in full:

Read the rest of this entry »

Sample tampering leads to plant scientist’s 7th retraction

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Jorge Vivanco

Jorge Vivanco

Plant scientist Jorge Vivanco has earned his seventh retraction, after an investigation found data from soil samples were “intentionally fabricated by a third party.”

Vivanco and his former postdoc Harsh Bais made a name for themselves by discovering the secret behind a nasty invasive plant: It secretes a harmful form of catechin, which kills everything around it, suggesting it could serve as a new herbicide. The findings earned the researchers a story in the New York Times.

In the newly retracted paper, published in 2005, first author Laura Perry — then a postdoc at Colorado State University — further explored the role of the plant-killer, working with Vivanco as the last author. However, when a team working in the building next door had trouble finding catechin in their samples, Perry took another look, and concluded that her samples had been tampered with.

In other words, Perry told us:   Read the rest of this entry »

High-profile critic slams Nature letters about dinosaur growth following corrections

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cover_nature (1)Authors of a pair of letters in Nature that concluded dinosaurs reached their full size surprisingly quickly are standing by their conclusions, despite challenges from a high-profile critic.

In the letters, researchers led by first author Gregory M. Erickson, a paleobiologist at The Florida State University, concluded that massive dinos grew fast — for example, a 5.5 ton T-Rex could reach skeletal maturity in just two decades. However, when Nathan Myhrvold tried to reanalyze the data, he couldn’t replicate the results. The authors have issued corrections to address the small mistakes unearthed by Myhrvold’s analysis, but argue he couldn’t replicate their results because they hadn’t fully explained their methodology.

After Myhrvold attempted to replicate the findings of maximum size and growth rate for several papers, he found issues in many, including the two Nature letters, according to a press release on Myhrvold’s website: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shannon Palus

March 1st, 2016 at 9:30 am

Seralini paper released by predatory publisher is plagiarized by predatory journal

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ijtra-logoA 2012 paper co-authored by Gilles Seralini, who has published controversial research showing the dangers of genetically modified foods, has been plagiarized by another researcher.

The 2016 paper, published in the International Journal of Technical Research and Applications, has not been retracted, but the text comparison is fairly obvious.

It’s a case of intra-predatory crime: the International Journal of Technical Research and Applications is on the list of predatory journals compiled by Jeffrey Beall, and the Seralini paper appeared in the Journal of Environmental Protection, which is published by Scientific Research Publishing, which Beall considers to be a predatory publisher.

Here’s the abstract from Seralini’s 2012 paper, “Glyphosate Exposure in a Farmer’s Family:” Read the rest of this entry »