Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘physics retractions’ Category

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 »

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A paper by a promising nanotechnologist has been retracted for data falsification.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

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Researchers disagree over how to explain doubts over physics findings

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After an international group of physicists agreed that the findings of their 2015 paper were in doubt, they simply couldn’t agree on how to explain what went wrong. Apparently tired of waiting, the journal retracted the paper anyway.

The resulting notice doesn’t say much, for obvious reasons. Apparently, some additional information came to light which caused the researchers to question the results and model. Although the five authors thought a retraction was the right call, they could not agree on the language in the notice.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Atomistic simulation of damage accumulation and amorphization in Ge,” published online February 2015 in the Journal of Applied Physics (JAP) and retracted two years later in January 2017: Read the rest of this entry »

Lack of reproducibility triggers retractions of Nature Materials articles

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The authors of a highly cited 2015 paper in Nature Materials have retracted it, after being unable to reproduce some of the key findings.

The move prompted the journal to also retract an associated News & Views article.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Fast and long-range triplet exciton diffusion in metal–organic frameworks for photon upconversion at ultralow excitation power:” Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. gov’t physicist sentenced to 18 months in prison for fraud

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A physicist formerly based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for faking data. 

According to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California, after receiving millions in government funding between 2008 and 2012, Sean Darin Kinion submitted faked data and reports to make it seem like he’d performed quantum computing work. Kinion pled guilty in June, 2016 to “a scheme to defraud the government out of money intended to fund research.” He has also been ordered to pay back $3,317,893 to the government.

As readers may know, scientists who commit misconduct are rarely sentenced to prison, although there are some exceptions — most notably, Dong-Pyou Han, who last year was sentenced to nearly five years in prison (and pay back $7 million) after spiking rabbit blood samples to make a HIV vaccine look more effective.

Lynda Seaver, director of public affairs at the LLNL, told us Kinion was dismissed in February 2013, following an investigation that found “some discrepancies in his work.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

December 23rd, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Prominent physicist accused of repeated self-plagiarism logs 2 retractions

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optical-materialsA physicist working for the Indian government has notched two retractions after being accused of multiple acts of self-plagiarism by his colleagues.

One retraction notice in Applied Surface Science says a duplicate of the paper was previously published by the same author — N. K. Sahoo, a researcher at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), which is part of the Indian government’s Department of Atomic Energy in Trombay, Mumbai. The other notice, which appears in Optical Materials, notes that the study “for the most part” has appeared in another paper by Sahoo.

Despite concerns about his work, Sahoo was promoted in May, according to the Mumbai Mirror. As a result, members of the Bhabha Atomic Research Officers’ Association wrote to BARC director K. N. Vyas asking for the institution to take action against Sahoo. A member of the group told the Mumbai Mirror in August: Read the rest of this entry »

Physics journal removes study for breach of confidentiality

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applied-physics-lettersA physics journal has retracted a 2016 study after learning that the author published it without the knowledge or permission of the funder, which had a confidentiality agreement in place for the work.

According to the retraction notice in Applied Physics Letters, the paper also lifted content from other researchers without due credit. Given the “legal issue” associated with the breach of confidentiality, the journal has decided to remove the paper entirely. 

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

Make America Retract Again: Physics group yanks release that quoted Trump, angered scientists

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american-physical-societyBowing to outraged scientists, the American Physical Society (APS) has retracted a press release (archived here) it issued yesterday that urged President-elect Donald Trump to  “Make America Great Again” by strengthening “scientific leadership.”

The statement, attributed to Tawanda Johnson, in the APS’ Washington, D.C. office, congratulated Trump on his victory over Hillary Clinton and said the nation must “reclaim its scientific leadership, which it has lost during the past decade. APS believes that such policies” — which it did not specify — “will help the Trump administration achieve its goal captured by its slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

The release goes on to claim that the United States ranks 10th worldwide in “overall innovation,” thanks in part to less-than-adequate funding for scientific research.

Social media went predictably bonkers as the release made the rounds. From Twitter: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

November 10th, 2016 at 3:48 pm