Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘physics retractions’ Category

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

Materials researcher falsified data in two studies, probe reveals

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advanced-materialsA materials journal has retracted two 2013 papers, citing an investigation at Pennsylvania State University that concluded the first author falsified data.

According to the retraction notice in Advanced Materials, Mehdi Ghaffari — formerly based at Penn State — was solely responsible for the misconduct. Ghaffari’s LinkedIn page says he finished his PhD at Penn State in 2014, and now works as an independent consultant in New York, after a stint as a postdoc at Procter and Gamble.

A Penn State spokesperson sent us this statement:  Read the rest of this entry »

Texas participant in physics breakthrough repaid $5M in misspent funds

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utrgvThe Texas institute that participated in the groundbreaking gravitational waves discovery had to repay nearly $5 million in funding after misusing and misreporting benefits, according to audits obtained by The Monitor.

The infractions occurred at The University of Texas Brownsville, which has since become part of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). Once the issues were discovered, UTRGV had to make the reimbursements.

As The Monitor reported: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

October 6th, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Journal flags paper at center of authorship dispute

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carbohydrate-polymersA journal has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for a nanofilm paper after a researcher protested being left off the author list. 

According to the notice in Carbohydrate Polymers, the University of Calcutta in West Bengal, India, where the research was carried out, has “failed to provide evidence of a thorough, fair, and proper investigation of this claim,” despite being presented with evidence from both sides.

The study’s last and corresponding author told us that his former student, who had previously co-authored some abstracts, got in touch with journal, alleging to be an author of the present paper. 

Here’s the EOC for “Cationic guar gum orchestrated environmental synthesis for silver nano-bio-composite films:” Read the rest of this entry »

Physics journal retracts paper without alerting author

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annals-of-physics

An Elsevier journal has angered an author by removing his study without telling him.

After spending months asking the journal why it removed the paper — about a heavily debated theorem in physics — and getting no response, the author threatened to seek damages from the journal and publisher for “permanently stigmatizing” his work. Yesterday, an Elsevier representative told the author what happened: Experts told the journal the paper had a major mistake, so the journal decided to withdraw the study, but failed to tell the author due to an “internal error.”

That explanation didn’t satisfy study author Joy Christian, scientific director of the Einstein Centre for Local-Realistic Physics in Oxford, UK, who has demanded the journal either republish the article or remove it and return the copyright to him, or he will pursue legal action.

Here’s the cryptic publisher’s note for “Local causality in a Friedmann–Robertson–Walker spacetime:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

September 30th, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Peer review manipulation fells another study

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Spectrochimica ActaA spectroscopy journal has retracted a 2016 study after concluding that its editors had been misled by a fake review.

According to the retraction notice, the journal — Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy — accepted the paper due to positive feedback from someone assuming the identity of an expert reviewer, using an email address provided by the author of the study.

An official from the author’s institution in Turkey informed us that it will conduct an investigation. 

Here’s the retraction notice for “Diagnosis of cervical cancer cell taken from scanning electron and atomic force microscope images of the same patients using discrete wavelet entropy energy and Jensen Shannon, Hellinger, Triangle Measure classifier:” Read the rest of this entry »

You’ve been dupe’d: Results so nice, they’re published twice

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obesity surgeryWith retraction notices continuing to pour in, we like to occasionally take the opportunity to cover several at a time to keep up.

We’ve compiled a handful of retractions that were all issued to papers that were published twice by at least one of the same authors — known as duplication. (Sometimes, this can be the publisher’s fault, although that doesn’t appear to be the case in any of the following examples.)

So here are five recently retracted papers that were pulled because of duplication: Read the rest of this entry »