Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘physics retractions’ Category

Physicists retract Nature paper on Earth’s core after findings aren’t reproducible

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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?

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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”

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1-s2.0-S0030402615X00179-cov150h

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:

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

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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

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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:”

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Authorship, funding misstatements force retraction of satellite study

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rslRemote Sensing Letters has retracted a 2015 paper by a pair of researchers in China because the duo was in fact a solo, and the manuscript lied about its funding source.

The article, “A novel method of feature extraction and fusion and its application in satellite images classification,” purportedly was written by Da Lin and Xin Xu, of Wuhan University. But as the retraction notice makes clear, that wasn’t the case: Read the rest of this entry »

Journal retracts bioelectronics paper for lack of credit to collaborators

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S09565663The list of co-authors on a paper about a “bioelectronic composite” was apparently too sparse.

According to its retraction note — posted at the request of the editor-in-chief and the corresponding author — the paper failed to include some of the collaborators.

The Biosensors & Bioelectronics paper looks at a protein complex that could function as part of a “bio-hybrid” device, like a sensor or a solar cell. It has been cited only by its retraction according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

What went wrong in allotting credit for the work pretty straightforward, according to the note for “Monolayers of pigment–protein complexes on a bare gold electrode: Orientation controlled deposition and comparison of electron transfer rate for two configurations.” Here it is in full:

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Data irregularities force author to retract three solar cell papers

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no spine minimum. full size. Editor: Jon JEM: Esther RTP: Bryan Nolte TOC image

An engineer has retracted three papers on a method for making nanoscale materials that are useful in solar cells.

The papers, all published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, contain irregularities in data, and one includes images “which have been published elsewhere and identified with different samples,” according to the note.

The first author on all three papers is Khalid Mahmood, who — according to the bio from a talk he gave last year on efficient solar cells — is currently a postdoc at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. He did the work in the retracted papers while a student at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, where, according to the bio, he completed his PhD in two years.

Here’s the retraction note for the first paper (which also contains a typo in the title — “electrospay”)

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Former UCSD prof’s company admits to grant fraud

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court caseA company headed by a former astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, has agreed to forfeit $180,000 after admitting to defrauding the government.

If SciberQuest, Inc. is unable to pay back the money — the result of fraudulently obtaining government grants and contracts — then its CEO Homayoun Karimabadi will be personally liable, the lawyer for SciberQuest and Karimabadi told Retraction Watch.

We asked if the company was going to be able to repay the $180,000; in response, Robert Rose of firm Sheppard Mullin told us: Read the rest of this entry »

Satellite paper grounded for plagiarizing — from the same journal

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1-s2.0-S0094576515X00129-cov150hPlagiarism happens; we see it a lot. But some cases stand out from the crowd.

For instance, we just came across an example where authors plagiarized from a paper in the same journal. Specifically, a 2015 paper on satellite orbits was found to have “extensive overlap” with another paper published in Acta Astronautica four years earlier. The last authors of the papers have connections, too — they used to work together at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in India, and in 2006, they co-authored a paper together.

M. Xavier James Raj is author on the retracted paper. He was a PhD student under R.K. Sharma, author of the paper he borrowed from. Sharma currently works at Karunya University in India.

Here’s the retraction note for “Analytical orbit predictions for low and high eccentricity orbits using uniformly regular KS canonical elements in an oblate atmosphere:”

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Written by Shannon Palus

January 18th, 2016 at 2:00 pm