Molecular self-assembly paper fell apart

1049_soft_matter_f2c-900Authors are retracting a 2014 paper about how liquid-crystalline materials self-organize in low temperature conditions after realizing they had measured the temperatures incorrectly.

The error affected three figures and a table in “Milestone in the NTB phase investigation and beyond: direct insight into molecular self-assembly.” The paper, published in Soft Matter, has been cited three times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

The retraction note, published in August, offers more detail as to exactly what went wrong:

We, the named authors, hereby wholly retract this Soft Matter article. In the paper, we claim utilization of liquid state NMR for direct analysis of intermolecular interactions within thermotropic liquid-crystalline phases. However, our further investigation revealed that temperature measurements were incorrect; the NMR spectra were taken at a higher temperature than specified in paper. In fact, the two reported proton and NOESY spectra were not recorded in the liquid-crystalline phases but rather in the higher temperature isotropic state and just above the I–N phase transition, respectively. Therefore, Fig. 4b and c in the paper, as well as Table S2, Fig. S3b and S5 in the ESI cannot be relied upon. We retract this article to avoid misleading readers and to correct the scientific record. We truly regret that such an event happened and we honestly apologise for any inconvenience to the readers.

We reached out to the first author to see if he had anything to add, and we’ll update if we hear back.

Given how forthcoming the authors are in explaining what went wrong, we’re giving them a “doing the right thing” nod.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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