Rice straw, which makes up nearly half of the biomass in rice plants, is generally considered agricultural waste. However, in recent years scientists have discovered ways to modify the raw material to make it capable of absorbing heavy metal ions, making it useful to both prevent and clean up pollution from industrial processes.
The retracted paper, which analyzed the physical properties of different kinds of modified rice straw, was retracted for citation manipulation.
Here’s the short (and to the point) retraction for “Mechanical and Thermal Stability Properties of Modified Rice Straw Fiber Blend with Polycaprolactone Composite”:
This article has been retracted as it was found to have violated the journal’s policy against citation manipulation.
Papers by Mansor Ahmad of Universiti Putra Malaysia, one of the authors of the retracted paper, were cited 14 times out of 38 total citations. Another co-author, Kamyar Shameli, also at UPM, was cited 16 times (the two were co-authors on many of those papers).
We’ve reached out to Shameli and Ahmad, and will update if we hear back.
Update 4/21/15 9:32 a.m. eastern: We heard from Michael Fayez, editorial manager at Hindawi. He told us:
Following the publication of this article we were notified about citation irregularities by one of the journal’s readers, which were serious enough in nature to raise concerns about the scientific validity of this article. So, we consulted with a number of the journal’s Editorial Board Members and based on their recommendations we decided to retract the article on the basis that it violated our policy against citation manipulation.
Hat tip Rolf Degen