Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘physics retractions’ Category

Researcher faked emails for co-authors, submitted paper without consent

without comments

A material science journal has retracted a paper after discovering that the first author faked email addresses for co-authors to submit the paper without their permission.

The journal, Materials, also discovered that the 2016 paper had plagiarized material from a 2013 paper previously published in Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A.

Here’s the retraction notice for the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve been dupe’d (again): Do these data look familiar? They are

with one comment

plant_growth_regulationWe can’t keep up with the growing number of retraction notices, so we’ve compiled a list of recent duplications to update our records.

1. Authors don’t always intentionally duplicate their own work, of course. The first paper on our list was retracted after the authors included a figure from a previous paper by accident, according to the publisher: Read the rest of this entry »

Author threatens to sue Elsevier if paper remains retracted

with 5 comments

Computational Materials Science

An author is prepared to sue Elsevier if it doesn’t un-retract his paper.

Computational Materials Science published two papers by the same author just eight months apart; nearly four years later, the journal pulled one for duplication. Author Masoud Panjepour, affiliated with Isfahan University of Technology in Iran, told us that he is working with a lawyer to negotiate a solution. However, if the publisher does not un-retract the paper, he does “not rule out filing a lawsuit.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “The effect of temperature on the grain growth of nanocrystalline metals and its simulation by molecular dynamics method,” which appeared last November:

Read the rest of this entry »

Physics journal pulls two papers for data shortcuts

without comments

New Journal of PhysicsA publisher is retracting two papers today by a team of physicists who took a short cut in reporting their data.

The papers present a method for imaging very small things — like biological processes on a molecular scale — that could be an alternative to electron microscopy, as the authors explain in a video. But after the papers were published in the New Journal of Physics, last author Ulf Leonhardt, now based at the Weizmann Institute of Science, found out that some of the data

 were pixel-by-pixel mirror-symmetric, which is impossible for genuine experimental data.

One of the researchers co-authored a subsequent paper that acknowledges one of the papers incorrectly assumed the data were symmetrical, and could therefore be extrapolated from one side to the other. A representative of the publisher told us they have not seen any signs of misconduct, and the problem seemed to result from a “series of apparent miscommunications between the authors.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Evidence for subwavelength imaging with positive refraction:” Read the rest of this entry »

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

with one comment

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

with 5 comments

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 »

When it takes a village to write a paper, what does it mean to be an author?

with 11 comments

Spencer Klein

Spencer Klein

We have seen plenty of projects unravel due to disputes over authorship, so we know this is a crucial issue in publishing. And the more authors are involved, the more issues can arise. So what happens when there are hundreds – or even thousands of authors on a single paper? Spencer Klein, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a Research Physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, offers some suggestions for how mega-collaborations could think differently about authorship.

Over the past few years, Retraction Watch has hosted a number of interesting discussions about the meaning of authorship. Those discussions have, so far, missed one important issue: What should one do in mega-collaborations, with memberships the size of a large village? In my field (astro/nuclear/particle physics), papers with hundreds of authors are common, with recent papers by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, the two large experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, having 2,870 and 2,270 authors respectively. One 2015 joint paper appears to have broken an authorship record with more than 5100 authors. (It’s also an increasing issue in other fields, such as genetics – one 2015 paper listed 1,000 authors.)

The usual techniques for assembling author lists fail here; a 2,500-person negotiation is a non-starter.   Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

April 12th, 2016 at 11:30 am

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

with 2 comments


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:

Read the rest of this entry »

Now this is transparent: Retraction for plagiarism earns 4-page editor’s note

with 3 comments

The Photogrammetric Record

A journal has retracted a paper about 3D imaging after concluding the authors used equations from another researcher without attribution — and has conveniently included a detailed editorial explaining exactly what happened.

It’s rare for us to see a journal be so transparent in explaining what went wrong with one of its papers, so we’re thanking Stuart Granshaw, from Denbighshire in Wales, UK, the editor of The Photogrammetric Record, for doing the right thing.”

Even the retraction note is reasonably forthcoming: Read the rest of this entry »

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

with 11 comments

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:”

Read the rest of this entry »