Authors retract two spectroscopy papers when follow-up results don’t match

analytical methodsThe authors of two spectroscopy papers in Royal Society of Chemistry journals have retracted them.

Here’s the notice for “Determination of silk fibroin secondary structure by terahertz time domain spectroscopy” (free, but requires sign-in) in Analytical Methods, which is almost identical to this notice in Analyst:

We, the authors Chao Yan, Bin Yang and Zhicheng Yu, hereby wholly retract this Analytical Methods article. The main content is on silk fibroin secondary structures characterized and analyzed by terahertz time domain spectroscopy. The three spectroscopic bands located at 1.84 THz, 1.68 THz, 1.55 THz are supposed to be related with random coil, a-helix, and antiparallel b-pleated sheet structures. However following further experiments these three characteristic peaks were not at the same positions and therefore the conclusions of the paper cannot be relied upon. We intend to make more tests to confirm our previous studies and we retract this paper in order to avoid misleading readers. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to Analytical Methods and the readers. Signed: Chao Yan, Bin Yang and Zhicheng Yu, Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, China, 17th September 2014.

This article is related to another paper in Analyst1 which has been retracted for the same reasons. Retraction endorsed by Anna Simpson, Executive Editor, Analytical Methods.

The Analyst notice, for “Methanol-induced conformation transition of gland fibroin monitored by FTIR spectroscopy and terahertz spectroscopy,” has a note about the connection at the bottom: “This article is related to another paper in Analytical Methods which has been retracted for the same reasons.”

The Analyst paper, which has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, cites the Analytical Methods paper.

We’ve reached out to the authors and to Anna Simpson, and will update with any new information.

Update, 4:45 p.m. Eastern, 10/29/14: Anna Simpson responded with what appears to be a form response from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s press office, saying the authors requested the retraction and RSC follows COPE guidelines.

Hat tips: Rolf Degen and Jean-Claude Bollinger

One thought on “Authors retract two spectroscopy papers when follow-up results don’t match”

  1. Okay, since this is related to my field, I will comment. Molecular spectroscopy is difficult to get right, and *very* easy to misinterpret. I will not get into the methods of this paper specifically, but I personally have seen many misinterpretations that have lead to wrong results (no retractions have been issued related to the literature I’m familiar with). Does this/these group(s) have a track record of retractions? From what I can tell, this group did the right thing and pulled some misinterpreted results. Why exactly is this a story?

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