Author asks ‘Why? Why? And why?’ as his paper is retracted

A Springer Nature journal has retracted a 2020 paper on exposure among cement workers to a potentially harmful chemical for a litany of errors that one might have expected peer reviewers to catch before publication – and the corresponding author is not happy.

Titled “Citrate stabilized Fe3O4/DMG modified carbon paste electrode for determination of octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane in blood plasma and urine samples of cement factory workers,” the article, which appeared in BMC Chemistry, was written by Rashid Heidarimoghadam and Abbas Farmany, of Hamadan University of Medical Sciences in Iran. 

Farmany, of Hamadan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, also happens to be a member of the journal’s editorial board, although he joined after the paper was accepted. 

According to the retraction notice:

The Editor has retracted this article. After publication, concerns were raised about the reproducibility of the work due to poorly reported methods and the authors’ inability to share sufficient raw data. Further investigation concluded that:

the presentation of the findings is misleading and their impact is overstated, specifically with regards to the analysis of biological samples;

the article lacks discussion of the limitations and shortcomings, including the lack of relevant control experiments;

the statements and claims in the article are supported by incorrect or inappropriate references or by citing derivations of original work.

The Editor therefore no longer has confidence in the results and conclusions of this article.

Abbas Farmany does not agree to this retraction. Rashid Heidarimoghadam has not responded to any correspondence from the editor or publisher about this retraction.

It’s not clear why these issues were not caught in peer review, and the journal did not respond to a request for comment. BMC titles offer the option to publish peer reviews, but they were not published in this case.

 Farmany had plenty to say about the retraction, telling us by email: 

In Tue Nov 2nd, 2021 we answered all questions point by point, presented details of all experiments and all raw data (point by point). The only serious issue on the article was a typos error in citing ref. [5-7] in the text instead of [1,7] and other questions seems be due to the unfamiliarity of that reader (if his/her concerns was scientific) with the subject of study.

Please note that this mistakes in the manuscript (citing [5–7] instead [1,7] was an unwanted error.

In my opinion, the concerns raised about typos error of citation, could be corrected by printing an erratum or correction.

By comparing our data with a manuscript from Prof. Compton at Oxford university, which is published in Chemistry Central Journal (BMC Chemistry) in 2015, we showed that our data were enough.

We respect the publication’s decision but we do not agree with other points and believe this decision is not defensible!

Finally:

1- As this manuscript was peer reviewed by the journal, what was our mistake/error?

2- Why the journal decided to retract it? What was our immoral error?

3- Is the incorrect points of that person were evaluated by an expert person in the field of electrochemistry?

4- Why, if we have answers to all questions, the journal does not decide to publish a comment and respond to comment form? What is the role of “comment/answer to comment” mode of publication?

Why?

Why?

and why?

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2 thoughts on “Author asks ‘Why? Why? And why?’ as his paper is retracted”

  1. Indeed, wouldn’t a comment be a superior way to explain technical objections to a paper? This retraction is very generic.

    1. I agree that this retraction is very generic, and does not seem to indicate that there was any misconduct or fraud involved. However, we often see journals writing very “euphemistic” retraction notices even if they did have evidence of something serious. Because of this practice, it has become difficult to discern the true reason for a retraction (which is something editors and publishers should have a hard think about).

      But, there is another question of principle: if after publication of a paper it becomes evident that it has major flaws and should have been revised further or rejected (but without any misconduct involved), should it be retracted? Can a paper be retracted because the reviewers didn’t do their job, even if the author is not at fault?

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