Researchers disagree over how to explain doubts over physics findings

After an international group of physicists agreed that the findings of their 2015 paper were in doubt, they simply couldn’t agree on how to explain what went wrong. Apparently tired of waiting, the journal retracted the paper anyway.

The resulting notice doesn’t say much, for obvious reasons. Apparently, some additional information came to light which caused the researchers to question the results and model. Although the five authors thought a retraction was the right call, they could not agree on the language in the notice.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Atomistic simulation of damage accumulation and amorphization in Ge,” published online February 2015 in the Journal of Applied Physics (JAP) and retracted two years later in January 2017:

After publication, the authors have become aware of additional information that puts the results in doubt and reduces the value and reproducibility of the model. While all the authors have agreed to retract the paper, they could not agree on the wording of the retraction statement. As a result, the Journal has decided to move forward and retract the paper.

When we reached out to JAP editor-in-chief André Anders at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California for additional information on the retraction, Jason Bardi, news director for the American Institute of Physics, which publishes JAP, contacted me on his behalf, but hasn’t yet provided a statement.

We also reached out to the corresponding author, Jose L. Gomez-Selles, from the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies (IMDEA) in Spain, and his four coauthors, to find out what the additional information is, how it affects the findings, and why they could not agree on the wording of the notice, but have not heard back.

The paper has not been cited by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

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