Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘materials science’ Category

Confusion reigns: Are these four retractions for compromised peer review, or not?

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Open Automation Journal CoverThe Open Automation and Control Systems Journal has published five items this calendar year — and all of those are retraction notices.

That’s what we’re sure about. Now to what we’re not clear on in this story, which is one of a growing number of cases we’ve seen in which so-called “predatory” publishers are starting to retract papers, perhaps because they hope the practice suggests they are rigorous. Four of the papers have been pulled for “compromised” peer review, some of which are due to the actions of an “external agent,” according to the journal. A co-author of one of these manuscripts, however, claims the paper has been pulled for using material from another researcher’s paper without acknowledgement but the journal has retracted it for issues with peer review.

The remaining paper has been pulled for plagiarizing from another published paper.

Let’s take a look at the retraction notice for the four papers felled by rigged peer review, which are all similar. They read: Read the rest of this entry »

Physicists retract Nature paper on Earth’s core after findings aren’t reproducible

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cover_naturePhysicists have retracted a highly cited paper from Nature on the behavior of electrons at the center of the Earth after other researchers could not reproduce their findings.

The 2015 paper earned coverage in Science News and Live Science, where co-author Ronald Cohen explained:

There was a big problem in how you generate a magnetic field, and now, because of our results, that problem has basically gone away.

Here are more details about what the original paper claimed, courtesy of a press release from The Carnegie Institution for Science, where co-authors Peng Zhang and Cohen work: Read the rest of this entry »

Author didn’t want photodiode paper “for her academic career”

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A paper on the characteristics of a photodiode has been retracted corrected because one of the authors “does not want this article for her academic career.”

We don’t often see this kind of reasoning in retraction notices, since adding to one’s publication record is generally a good thing. But occasionally papers do get pulled when researchers are included against their wishes.

Here’s the entire retraction correction note for “Illumination response on the electrical characterizations *Cr/n-GaAs/In photodiode,” published in Optik – International Journal for Light and Electron Optics:

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Concerns about image manipulation? Sorry, the data were lost in a flood

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1 (1)Lost your data? Blame nature.

Microchimica Acta has retracted a paper about water-soluble quantum dots after the authors couldn’t provide back-up for a figure that contained signs of manipulation. The reason, the editor told us: The corresponding author said the raw data were lost in a flood in Sri Lanka.

The journal asked the authors for the data after an investigation suggested that the paper included copied pictures of the same nanoparticle. The paper is one of four by the pair of co-authors flagged on PubPeer for potential image duplication.

Here’s the retraction note for “CdS/ZnS core-shell quantum dots capped with mercaptoacetic acid as fluorescent probes for Hg(II) ions:”

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Chemist fighting to keep PhD asks University of Texas to pay $95k in legal fees

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University of Texas

After the University of Texas postponed a hearing to determine whether it should revoke a chemist’s PhD, her lawyer has filed a motion to stop the proceedings, and requested the school pay her $95,099 in lawyer fees and expenses.

This is the second time UT has threatened to revoke Suvi Orr‘s PhD, following a 2012 retraction for a paper that made up part of her dissertation, which the school alleged contained falsified data. UT revoked her degree in 2014, only to reinstate it after she sued. The school is now trying to revoke it again, but the scheduled hearing on March 4 was postponed. Last week, her lawyer filed a motion for final summary judgment requesting that UT stop the proceedings and repay $95,099 in lawyer fees and expenses. The new motion makes a few requests:

Written by Shannon Palus

March 24th, 2016 at 11:30 am

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 »

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:

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Molecular self-assembly paper fell apart

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1049_soft_matter_f2c-900Authors are retracting a 2014 paper about how liquid-crystalline materials self-organize in low temperature conditions after realizing they had measured the temperatures incorrectly.

The error affected three figures and a table in “Milestone in the NTB phase investigation and beyond: direct insight into molecular self-assembly.” The paper, published in Soft Matter, has been cited three times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

The retraction note, published in August, offers more detail as to exactly what went wrong:

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Journal retracts nanoparticles paper for duplicating figures

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no spine minimum. full size. Editor: Ann Meares JEM: Diane RTP: Jill Kessler

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 »