Images “may not be trustworthy”: Aluminum sheets paper folds into retraction

1-s2.0-S0921509315X00153-cov150hFollowing questions “about the integrity of the microscopy images,” Materials Science and Engineering: A has retracted a paper on the properties of sheets of aluminum under strain.

The images in question show sheets after a few rounds of a process called “constrained groove pressing,” which smushes sheets between two grooved plates, and then between two flat plates, to evaluate how the material holds up.

According to the retraction note for the paper, imaging performed by a third party “may not be trustworthy.”

The paper has been cited 42 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s more from the retraction note to “Nano-structure and mechanical properties of 0–7 strained aluminum by CGP: XRD, TEM and tensile test“:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor in Chief.

The authors carried out all the reported experiments except for the transmission electron microscopy imaging (TEM) which was a complementary evaluation and performed by a third party. It has now come to light that the TEM images provided by this third party, (Figs. 4 and 5), may not be trustworthy. The authors confirm the reliability of the rest of the results and the reported conclusions. The authors would like to apologize to the readers of “Materials Science and Engineering A” for any inconvenience caused.

The journal’s Editor in Chief, Enrique Lavernia, an engineering professor at the University of California, Davis, provided us with this statement:

Our entire team of MSEA editors, together with our Elsevier colleagues, work tirelessly to ensure that only the most significant papers get published In our journal. Working closely with our peer reviewers, and supported by an ever increasing availability of web based tools, we make every effort to scrutinize all papers submitted and published in MSEA.

In this particular retraction, questions were raised about the integrity of the microscopy images, which upon further inspection, resulted in the present retraction.

We asked Lavernia who raised the questions, and the name of the third party who performed the imaging. He said: “I am not certain that I am at liberty to disclose details, so I will defer to our managing editor, Dr. Tingting Zou.” We’ll update if we hear back from Zou.

Corresponding author Mohsen Kazeminezhad, who works at the Sharif University of Technology in Iran, said that more supervision would be warranted in the future: “I think that I or my co-author should be beside the third party and control the test and specimens.” He wouldn’t disclose who exactly the third party was either, just that: “someone promised to do the test who can access the equipment.”

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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