Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘chemistry retractions’ Category

“Searching our souls”: Authors retract paper after researcher admits to fabricating data

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Researchers at a prominent Japanese university have retracted a 2016 paper in a chemistry journal after the first author admitted to scientific misconduct.

According to the notice, Kyushu University investigated and verified that the first author had committed scientific misconduct.

We requested a copy of the misconduct report, which revealed that the researcher, Prasenjit Mahato, a postdoctoral fellow at Kyushu University who is no longer affiliated with the university, “admitted to falsifying research” in two papers on which he was first author: a highly cited 2015 paper in Nature Materials, which was retracted in 2016, as well as the 2016 paper in Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), retracted earlier this month. The university investigated and confirmed misconduct in both papers.

We covered the Nature Materials retraction last year, but at the time, the paper’s corresponding author, Nobuo Kimizuka, only told us that the “matter has been under investigation by the formal investigation panel of our University.”

According to the five-page misconduct report — which we translated from Japanese using One Hour Translation and is also available in Japanese on the university’s website — in July 2016, a member of the lab (“Faculty Member B”) began to suspect a problem after he reviewed the data with Mahato (“the defendant”): Read the rest of this entry »

Paper with duplicated image “sequentially builds” on neuroscience work, authors argue

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A neurochemistry journal has retracted a paper from a group in China over a duplicated image.

According to the notice, the authors used the same image in the two papers to represent different experimental conditions. The only distinguishing feature between the images: “apparent brightness changes.”

The authors defended their actions, explaining that the research published in Journal of Neurochemistry “sequentially builds” on their previous study in Journal of Neuroinflammation, which they mention in the 2015 paper’s discussion. In the notice, the authors were quoted saying:  Read the rest of this entry »

Author retracts nanotechnology paper over doubts about key results

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The corresponding author of a 2015 nanotechnology paper has penned a lengthy — and revealing — retraction notice, explaining why he is not certain about the findings.

In the notice, Chang Ming Li from the Institute for Clean Energy & Advanced Materials (ICEAM) at Southwest University in China, states that there is “insufficient evidence to conclusively” identify the composition of the nanowire array described in the article, which “severely undermines the validity of the reported conclusions.”

The 2015 paper has been considered “highly cited” by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters, meaning it has received a disproportionate amount of cites given its field and publication year.

Li also said that the paper — which appeared in Physical Chemistry, Chemical Physics — was “submitted and published without my knowledge or permission.” He has not responded to our request to explain how that could have happened, given that he was the corresponding author. Read the rest of this entry »

First author objects to retraction (his fourth) in chemistry journal

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The first author of a 2013 chemistry paper is objecting to his co-authors’ decision to retract the paper, which contains duplicated figures.

We recently encountered a similar scenario with papers by first author Khalid Mahmood. In late 2015, Mahmood lost three papers in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces over duplicated images. One of the notices also indicated that the figures had “been published elsewhere and identified with different samples” — the same language used in the notice of the most recent retraction, in Journal of Materials Chemistry C.

Mahmood performed the work on the papers at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), along with his two co-authors, Seung Bin Park and Hyung Jin Sung (also co-authors on two of the retracted papers in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces).

Seung Bin Park, who is dean of the College of Engineering at KAIST, told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Chemist wins injunction against university trying to revoke her degree

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A scientist has won an injunction against the University of Texas at Austin, which was deciding whether or not to revoke her PhD.

We’ve been covering the case of Suvi Orr, a chemist now based at Pfizer who earned a PhD in 2008, for a few years. During that time, UT has tried to revoke her degree twice, after the paper that made up part of her dissertation was retracted in 2012 — for allegedly containing falsified data, according to the school. The university revoked her degree in 2014, then reinstated it after she sued.

Last year, the school tried to revoke it again, prompting Orr to sue for a second time — and ask for more than $95,000 in legal fees and expenses.

In a decision released April 20, a Texas Court of Appeals has upheld Orr’s request for an injunction against UT, preventing it from deciding whether to revoke her degree. Specifically, Orr asked that UT not be allowed to make a decision until the court has weighed in on a separate appeal, in which Orr argues the university doesn’t have the right to revoke her degree.

According to her lawyer, David Sergi:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

April 21st, 2017 at 2:52 pm

As third retraction for prominent physicist appears, university still won’t acknowledge investigation

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Despite a university’s attempts to avoid discussing a misconduct investigation involving one of its former (and prominent) researchers, we keep reading more about it.

In the third retraction this year for physicist Dmitri Lapotko, the journal mentions a misconduct investigation at Rice University, which concluded the data had been falsified. Trouble is, whenever we’ve tried to talk to Rice about that investigation, they won’t even confirm it took place.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Transient Photothermal Spectra of Plasmonic Nanobubbles,” published by Langmuir:

Read the rest of this entry »

Chemistry papers challenged a paradigm — until the authors spotted a pivotal error

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Several years ago, a group of four chemists believed they had stumbled upon evidence that contradicted a fairly well-established model in fluid dynamics.

Between 2013 and 2015, the researchers published a series of four papers detailing their results — two in ACS Macro Letters and two in MacromoleculesTimothy P. Lodge, the journals’ editor and a distinguished professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, explained that the results were “somewhat controversial,” because they appeared to contradict the generally accepted model for how some polymer fluids move.

Indeed, the papers sparked debate between the authors and other experts who questioned the new data, arguing it didn’t upend the previous model.

Then, in 2015, the authors realized their critics might be correct.  Read the rest of this entry »

Idea theft: Two food chemistry papers retracted for using someone’s ideas

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A researcher has retracted two papers after her former supervisor complained she had used his ideas and methodology.

In addition, some of the work was apparently covered by a copyright agreement.

Both papers were co-authored by the same three people. The idea theft came to light after one of the co-authors received a complaint from her former supervisor, prompting her to contact the publisher to resolve the issue.

Wendy Hurp, executive publisher of Food Science at Elsevier, which publishes the two journals, provided some additional background on what happened: Read the rest of this entry »

No longer in limbo: Journal lifts 2015 expression of concern from chemistry paper

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All too often, when an article is flagged by a journal that’s concerned about the findings, the notice lingers in limbo, leaving readers unclear whether or not to rely on the findings. One chemistry paper’s two-year stint in purgatory ended last month, when the journal lifted its expression of concern (EOC) and replaced it with a correction.

The journal chose to swap the 2015 EOC with a correction after the authors addressed its concerns in a follow-up paper, also published in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry.

The journal’s executive editor Richard Kelly provided further insights about what happened:

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Research misconduct finding — which university won’t discuss — leads to second retraction for prominent physicist

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A rising star in nanotechnology, Dmitri Lapotko, has received his second retraction within a month over “a finding of research misconduct” that the university will apparently only disclose on a need-to-know basis.

According to the notice, the journal’s editor and publisher issued the retraction after Lapotko’s former institution—Rice University in Houston—notified them of research misconduct and cited figure duplication issues, which meant the results “should not be relied upon and may be scientifically unsound.”

We recently covered the Belarusian physicist’s first retraction in the journal Theranostics, in which an official at Rice would not confirm a misconduct inquiry, telling us that, “Rice University’s investigations of research misconduct are confidential.”

This time, however, the retraction notice explicitly states that a Rice University research integrity officer reported research misconduct to the journal Applied Physics Letters (APL). We contacted the official, B.J. Almond, who still stuck to the original script: Read the rest of this entry »