Authors aren’t happy to lose four more papers in chemistry journals

Gauhati University, via Wikimedia

A pair of researchers in India with a history of stealing a paper from other authors during the peer review process have lost four more articles, this time for questionable data. 

The papers, by Priyadarshi Roy Chowdhury and Krishna G. Bhattacharyya, of Gauhati University in Jalukbari, appeared in journals published by the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry. At least some of the hijinks by the pair resulted in a misconduct inquiry by the institution — the report of which one of the authors told Retraction Watch “was completely one-sided and vindictive.”

One of the papers, “Ni/Co/Ti layered double hydroxide for highly efficient photocatalytic degradation of Rhodamine B and Acid Red G: a comparative study,” was published in 2017 in Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences. According to the notice

The Royal Society of Chemistry hereby wholly retracts this Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences article due to concerns with the reliability of the data in the published article.

There are repeating motifs within the HR-TEM image presented in Fig. 1A indicating that this image has been manipulated.

The TEM images in Fig. 1D and F have been duplicated in another publication, but presented as a different material.1

The XRD data presented in Fig. S4 has been duplicated in ref. 1, but reported as a different material.

There are unexpected similarities in the baseline of the EDX spectrum in Fig S5B and the EDX spectra in other publications, which have all been reported as different materials.1–3

There are a number of inconsistencies within the AFM images in Fig. S6A and S6D, which indicate that these images have been manipulated. In addition, many of the same motifs observed in Fig. S6A can be seen in other publications.1,2

The image in Fig. S6C is unreliable as it has subsequently been reused in unpublished material to represent different materials.

The FTIR spectra in Fig. S18B represent duplication of data, given that the two spectra represent different experimental conditions. Data duplication can also be observed in Fig. S21A and S21B as the red, blue and green spectra are identical but represent different experiments.

Given the number and significance of the concerns about the validity of the data, the findings presented in this paper are no longer reliable.

Priyadarshi Roy Chowdhury and Krishna G. Bhattacharyya were informed about the retraction of the article but did not respond.

Here’s the second notice, for an article in Dalton Transactions titled “Ni/Ti layered double hydroxide: synthesis, characterization and application as a photocatalyst for visible light degradation of aqueous methylene blue”:

The Royal Society of Chemistry hereby wholly retracts this Dalton Transactions article due to concerns with the reliability of the data in the published article.

There are a number of inconsistencies in the XRD spectrum in Fig. 4 indicating that the image has been manipulated.

The TEM images in Fig. 7C and D are unreliable as they have subsequently been reused in unpublished material to represent different materials.

There are unexpected similarities in the baseline of the EDX spectrum in Fig. 8 and EDX spectra in other publications, which have all been reported as different materials.1–3

The XPS data in Fig. 13, 14 and 15 have been duplicated in another publication, but reported as a different material.2

Given the number and significance of the concerns about the validity of the data, the findings presented in this paper are no longer reliable.

Priyadarshi Roy Chowdhury and Krishna G. Bhattacharyya were informed about the retraction of the article but did not respond.

RSC Advances has retracted the 2015 paper, ‘Synthesis and characterization of Co/Ti layered double hydroxide and its application as a photocatalyst for degradation of aqueous Congo Red”:

The Royal Society of Chemistry hereby wholly retracts this RSC Advances article due to concerns with the reliability of the data in the published article.

The XPS data in Fig. 4B, E and F have been duplicated in another publication, but reported as a different material.1

A repeating segment can be observed in the TEM image presented in Fig. 10C, which indicates that this image has been manipulated.

There are unexpected similarities in the baseline of the EDX spectrum in Fig. 10F and the EDX spectra in other publications, which have all been reported as different materials.1–3

There are repeating motifs within the AFM image in Fig. 10G, which indicates that this image has been manipulated. Many of these motifs can also be observed in an AFM image in another publication, but representing a different material.2

The image in Fig. 10I is unreliable as it has subsequently been reused in unpublished material to represent different materials.

The FTIR data presented in Fig. 16B (blue, red and green spectra) illustrate duplication of data, given that these experiments were reported under different reaction conditions.

Given the number and significance of the concerns about the validity of the data, the findings presented in this paper are no longer reliable.

Three of the retractions are dated March 12. 

A fourth, which dates back to last February, involves a 2016 paper in RSC Advances titled “Synthesis and characterization of Mn/Co/Ti LDH and its utilization as a photocatalyst in visible light assisted degradation of aqueous Rhodamine B”. The retraction notice reads:  

The Royal Society of Chemistry hereby wholly retracts this RSC Advances article following a misconduct investigation carried out by Gauhati University.

There are repeating motifs within the AFM image in Fig. 7A. Gauhati University have informed us that they have concluded that the AFM image is devoid of authenticity and has been manipulated or altered by the authors.

‘Totally biased’

Bhattacharyya explained to us why he and his colleagues did not agree to the retractions: 

We are not at all happy with the RSC retractions. They did not give much attention to our rebuttals. They solely depended on the institutional views.

The Institutional views were totally biased, and it all arose because of a few persons who were biased against me and my students. And these persons sat on the Committee formed for the purpose and they  did not give me an opportunity to explain. They only called my student and almost like interrogated him and although he could explain everything before them, the final report did not reflect it. The Institutional report was completely one-sided and vindictive. 

I did inform the RSC about this, but they preferred to go by the Institutional report.

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One thought on “Authors aren’t happy to lose four more papers in chemistry journals”

  1. Why were these errors not noticed by the reviewers, but only after publication? Did the review process fail, somewhere?

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