Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘chemistry retractions’ Category

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 During that time, UT has tried to revoke her degree twice, after the paper that made up part of her dissertation was retracted in 2012 — for allegedly containing falsified data, according to the school.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:

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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:

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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 »

Physics paper’s results off by factor of 100

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Researchers from China have retracted a physics paper after realizing an error led them to report results that were nearly 100 times too large.

What’s more, the authors omitted key findings that would enable others to reproduce their experiments.

According to the notice, the authors used a value to calculate a feature of electrons—called mobility—that “was approximately 100 times too small,” which led to results that were “100 times too large.” The notice also details several gaps in the presentation of experimental results, which preclude others from duplicating the experiments.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Bulk- and layer-heterojunction phototransistors based on poly[2-methoxy-5-(2′-ethylhexyloxy-p-phenylenevinylene)] and PbS quantum dot hybrids:” Read the rest of this entry »

Why don’t the raw data match what was reported in a chemistry paper?

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Chemistry researchers in China have retracted their 2016 paper after reporting that the raw data did not match what they presented in the article.

The authors were attempting to develop a method to produce large amounts of a high-quality two-dimensional form of antimonene, a prized crystal structure that has been notoriously difficult to synthesize reliably.

They were successful, according to the paper, achieving “a large quantity of few-layer antimonene” and demonstrating its “exact atomical structure” and properties.

But they may have spoken too soon. Read the rest of this entry »

Prominent physicist loses paper over data falsification

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A paper by a promising nanotechnologist has been retracted for data falsification.

Dmitri Lapotko, a Belarusian researcher with a background in laser weaponry, made a name for himself at Rice University in Houston, where he studied the use of nanotechnology to diagnose and treat human diseases. That work earned him significant press coverage, including stories in the New York Times and Science.

But that nanobubble may be bursting. The journal Theranostics has retracted a 2011 paper on which Lapotko is the last and corresponding author, citing questions over data falsification. What’s more, another journal has warned readers there may be a problem with a figure in a 2012 paper on which Lapotko is listed as last author.

Lapotko has since left Rice for Masimo Corp., a developer of monitoring devices for patients in the operating room.

According to the Theranostics notice:

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Two retracted papers were published behind bosses’ backs

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Researchers have retracted two 2016 papers from the same journal which were published without the permission of the supervising scientists.

According to the retraction notices, the two Applied Materials & Interfaces articles were “published without the full knowledge or consent of the principal investigators” who guided the research, but are not named in the notices.

The papers share the same three authors, listed in the same order. Last author Fangqiong Tang and middle author Laifeng Li are principal investigators in different labs at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. First author Nanjing Hao was formerly in Tang’s research group, but is now at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Fabrication of Carbohydrate-Conjugated Fingerprintlike Mesoporous Silica Net for the Targeted Capture of Bacteria,” which was retracted only months after it was published in November 2016: Read the rest of this entry »