Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘physics retractions’ Category

“Devastating:” Authors retract paper in Nature journal upon discovering error

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Several years ago, Chris Dames thought he had made an exciting discovery, a “secret sauce” that would allow him to design a device using a novel mechanism.

In a 2014 Nature Communications paper, Dames—who works at the University of California at Berkeley—and his team described the first experimental results for the device, a photon thermal diode. A thermal diode conducts heat in one direction but not in the other, and in theory, could have broad applications—for example, provide barriers that shield buildings from excess heat or use heat to power computers.

But two years later, in August 2016, a colleague thought he had discovered a fundamental error in the design of the experiments. Bair Budaev, who also works at the University of California at Berkeley, believed that the authors made a “a fundamental symmetry error” which invalidated their results. Read the rest of this entry »

Curious: A paper’s acknowledgments harshly criticized Spanish gov’t funding. Now two authors object.

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In 2014, researchers condemned the Spanish Government for “destroying the R&D horizon of Spain and the future of a complete generation” in the acknowledgment section of a paper about wireless networks.

Three years later, the two last authors of the paper are protesting that protest, issuing a correction to alert readers that they did not approve the language. Here’s the text of the corrigendum notice, which mentions Juan M. Górriz and Javier Ramírez, both based at University of Granada: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

August 18th, 2017 at 8:15 am

NY court: Cornell faces being held in contempt after denying physics professor tenure (twice)

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Mukund Vengalattore

Cornell University and a high-powered dean at the school face being held in contempt of court in a case stemming from their decision to deny tenure to a physics professor.

Assistant professor Mukund Vengalattore told Retraction Watch he believes the school and the dean are violating a judge’s order instructing them to completely redo his tenure review process. Neither the university nor the dean has done any of the things the judge asked them to do, and even suspended his paycheck for the first two weeks of June, he said.

In 2014 Gretchen Ritter, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, denied Vengalattore tenure, citing a weak publication record, an inability to accept advice from colleagues, and a poor group dynamic fostered in his lab [Exhibit C in this court document]. But on appeal, a faculty panel found that the review process had been affected by sexual misconduct allegations from a former graduate student.  Vengalattore told Retraction Watch the allegations were “completely false.”

However, last year, Ritter again denied Vengalattore tenure, a decision backed by Cornell’s provost, Michael Kotlikoff. As first reported by Inside Higher Ed in May, Vengalattore then took Cornell and Ritter to court. Judge Richard Rich ruled on that case in November, finding that the alleged misconduct “tainted” the process and that the school had deviated from its established procedures in a “necessary” but “secretive” way, denying Vengalattore due process:

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Written by Andrew P. Han

June 27th, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Top physicist loses another paper; tally now up to 7

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A physics journal has retracted a paper from a leading physicist in India over duplication.

The paper’s first and corresponding Naba K. Sahoo has had six papers retracted for the same reason — four earlier this year and two last year.

The new retraction brings Sahoo’s total to seven, by our count.

The duplication allegations began several years ago, after Sahoo’s colleagues at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), part of Indian government’s Department of Atomic Energy, accused him of plagiarizing his own work.

Thomas Lippert, editor-in chief of Applied Physics A: Material Science & Processing, told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Prominent physicist loses four more papers for duplication

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A leading physicist in India has lost four more papers for duplication, after colleagues lodged a complaint against him.

According to the most recent retraction notices, issued by Applied Surface Science, the four papers duplicated several figures and portions of text from the authors’ previous works. Although the notices do not single out a responsible party, last year the Mumbai Mirror reported that first and corresponding Naba K. Sahoo had been accused of duplication by colleagues at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), part of Indian government’s Department of Atomic Energy.

(In a bizarre twist, Sahoo also made the news recently for getting into a fist fight with another BARC scientist.)

Sahoo received two retractions last year for duplication, sometimes inelegantly referred to as “self-plagiarism.” All six of his retractions affect papers published by Applied Surface Science between 2005 and 2007.

The first retraction notice explains that a 2006 paper lifted portions of text from an earlier paper by Sahoo: Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Five retractions for engineering duo in South Korea over duplication, fraudulent data

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An engineering student in South Korea and a professor have retracted five papers from four different journals for reasons ranging from figure duplication to manipulated or fraudulent data.

Jae Hyo Park, who is pursuing his PhD, and Seung Ki Joo, a professor in the department of material science and engineering at Seoul National University in South Korea, appear on all five papers as first and last author, respectively.

According to an official at IOP Publishing, the retractions began when a third party contacted them last March about “potential misconduct” in a paper published earlier that year in one of its journals—Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics. The IOP official Simon Davies explained: Read the rest of this entry »

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 »