The authors of a 2011 Science paper that proposed a new way to direct chemical bonds have withdrawn the paper after concerns about the data prompted an investigation and Editorial Expression of Concern last year from the journal. The retraction is the second for the group, which has also had seven other expressions of concern.
After a reader emailed the editors to raise suspicions about the data, corresponding author Christopher W. Bielawski, then based at the University of Texas at Austin, led an investigation of all the figures. It found substantial problems: “In over 50% of the figure parts, the authors deemed the data unreliable due to uncertainty regarding the origin of data or the manner in which the data were processed,” according to the retraction notice.
UT Austin concluded that there had been misconduct, but did not elaborate.
First author J.N. Brantley and Bielawski — who is now based at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in Korea – asked to withdraw the paper, but since the journal could not contact the third author, Kelly M. Wiggins, it decided to retract the article.
Here’s the retraction notice for “Unclicking the Click: Mechanically Facilitated 1,3-Dipolar Cycloreversions”, from Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt:
On 27 June 2014, Science published an Editorial Expression of Concern about the Report “Unclicking the click: Mechanically facilitated 1,3-dipolar cycloreversions” by J. N. Brantley et al. After concerns were raised in an e-mail to the editors from a reader, the corresponding author supervised a comprehensive evaluation of all data presented in the original manuscript by tracing all figures back to their raw data files. In over 50% of the figure parts, the authors deemed the data unreliable due to uncertainty regarding the origin of data or the manner in which the data were processed. The University of Texas at Austin conducted a confidential investigation and shared the conclusion that scientific misconduct had occurred, but provided no further detail of the nature of the misconduct. After the conclusion of the investigation, authors Bielawski and Brantley volunteered to withdraw the paper; it has not been possible to contact author Wiggins. Science is therefore retracting the paper.
The article has been cited 101 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Hat tip: Stuart Cantrill