Nanoparticle paper earns retraction for lack of reproducibility

issue 1 - RSC Advances_2012.inddA nanoparticle article published earlier this year has been retracted by RSC Advances for lack of reproducibility, although we haven’t been able to get more details about what happened.

Here’s the notice for “Sonochemical synthesis of poly(methyl methacrylate) core–surfactin shell nanoparticles for recyclable removal of heavy metal ions and its cytotoxicity” (freely available but requires sign-in):

We, the named authors, hereby wholly retract this RSC Advances article (RSC Adv., 2014, 4, 24991–25004) in order to maintain the accuracy of the scientific record. Upon repetition of the synthesis procedure, characterisation and subsequent heavy metal absorption studies, we found that the material used in the original study was not reproducible.

We, the authors, apologise for any inconvenience caused due to this inadvertent error.

Signed: Debasree Kundu, Chinmay Hazra, Aniruddha Chatterjee, Ambalal Chaudhari and Satyendra Mishra, 15th October 2014.

The study has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

RSC sent us a form comment indicating they retracted the paper in accordance with COPE guidelines. We reached out to the authors, and will update with anything we learn.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

3 thoughts on “Nanoparticle paper earns retraction for lack of reproducibility”

  1. It may be well be an honest error, bu maybe not so inadvertent after all, or what? I am stunned the Royal Society of Chemistry allows such a nonsense wording. If it was inadvertent, how come the same authors were able to do some more tests which result in the study’s irreproducibility?

    I apologize for the inconvenience this inadvertent post may cause readers.

    1. Problem in chemistry is mostly contamination. If you have a precursor that is contaminated and you do all experiments with this one charge of precursor, then all the experiments are reproducable while using that charge. If you later buy a new not-contaminated charge for further experiments suddenly nothing works anymore (could also be other way round, now its contaminated and then it wasnt, but thats more unlikely). But thats only one explanation, of course it could also be scientific misconduct, but its not so unlikely that there were problems in the syntheses.

    2. Well, sometimes you just don’t know why something is not reproducible. In a perfect world with perfect scientists doing perfect science, you would always find an explanation. But in the real world, you can sometimes be left behind simply scratching your head.

      I am not saying this is what happened here. We don’t know for sure. But at least the authors reacted rather quickly and the scientific record is corrected. Quite often authors don’t do anything and simply move on……

      And what is the RSC (or any journal for that matter) to do? Not accept a retraction because the authors don’t want to elaborate in-depth? Leave the faulty paper in the scientific record longer than necessary, simply because the authors don’t give a good detailed explanation of what happened? Not really an option, is it?

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