“Several scientific errors” sink physics paper after rewrite opportunity

canadian journal of physicsWe don’t love this somewhat incoherent retraction for a paper on coherent states, although luckily the publisher was prompt with telling us a little more about what happened.

On October 2, a 2008 physics paper, “Generation of a superposition of coherent states in a resonant cavity and its nonclassicality and decoherence,” was retracted for “several scientific errors,” pointed out by a comment published in the same journal. The original authors rewrote the paper, but it was not up to the standards of Canadian Journal of Physics, so it was rejected, and the original was retracted.

Here’s the notice:

A Comment (G. Ren. Can. J. Phys. This issue. doi:10.1139/cjp-2014-0066) submitted for publication in Can. J. Phys. concerning this article brought to the Editor’s attention that the paper contains several scientific errors. Thus, the Editor requested that the paper be removed from the website. However, as the Can. J. Phys. version of the paper has already been published, this is not possible and so the Editors of Can. J. Phys. are retracting it.

We spoke to a representative of Canadian Science Publishing about the case:

The original paper was published in 2008 by Ghosh and Das.

In February of this year, a Comment paper http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/full/10.1139/cjp-2014-0066#.VD0eOfldV8E was received that pointed out that the 2008 paper was incorrect.

The Editor advised the original authors and asked them to re-write the paper. It seems they acknowledged that their original paper was flawed and submitted a new paper that was subsequently rejected. The decision was then made to retract the original paper.

The paper has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

We’ve reached out to the authors of both the retracted paper and the comment, and will update with anything we learn.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

One thought on ““Several scientific errors” sink physics paper after rewrite opportunity”

  1. I still find it difficult to come to terms with what should be done with scientific error in the literature.

    The literature is full of scientific error. Probably every natural science paper has some errors, simply because we don’t know any better at the time of writing.

    Serious errors, escecially those that at the time of writing were preventable with reasonable effort, should probably be retracted. Things like “we thought we were using cell line A but unknowingly actually used a totally different cell line, which makes all results obsolete” are also classical retractions. But there is a large gray area and my feeling is it is sometimes better to simply let new papers correct the record.

    In this context, it would be very helpful if high-impact journals would allow for more papers that simply falsify previous wisdome, especially if this wisdome has been published in the same journal before.

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