Yesterday, we reported on 11 retractions in various Elsevier chemistry journals of papers from a group of Brazilian scientists who are alleged to have fabricated nuclear magnetic resonance images used in their articles.
We’d spoken with the senior author on those papers, Claudio Airoldi, who defended himself and his colleagues and denied that the NMR images had been manipulated.
Today, we heard from Tom Reller, vice president for global corporate relations at Elsevier, who offered a different version of events.
Here’s what Reller had to say, straight from his email:
After we received the complaint, this case was investigated by the handling editor of the article in JCIS [the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science]. He conducted a thorough investigation and involved three external reviewers. PDFs of the article published in JCIS and the other journals involved were sent to the reviewers. The reviewers reported that it was clear that the NMR results were manipulated, the NMR spectra were not authentic, and concluded that this was a case of fraud. This conclusion was also supported by the handling editor of JCIS. The results of the investigation were shared and discussed with other publishers involved, and we also involved our legal counsel.
After the initial investigation by the editor and external reviewers, the findings were sent to the authors. The authors were asked to send us their original measured NMR data, which they did together with their response to the allegations. It was concluded by a reviewer that the original NMR data included with the Authors’ response did not appear to be equivalent to the data presented in the published papers.
The investigation is concluded so far as we’re concerned.
Clearly, this account doesn’t jibe with Airoldi’s protestations, and we’re not sure we see a way for both descriptions to be true. We’ll continue to update with what we hear.