The Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) has retracted three articles that had earned expressions of concern by chemistry researchers who were under investigation at the University of Texas, Austin.
After a reader emailed the editors to raise suspicions about the data, corresponding author Christopher W. Bielawski, then based at the University of Texas at Austin, led an investigation of all the figures. It found substantial problems: “In over 50% of the figure parts, the authors deemed the data unreliable due to uncertainty regarding the origin of data or the manner in which the data were processed,” according to the retraction notice.
UT Austin concluded that there had been misconduct, but did not elaborate.
Kelly Wiggins and Christopher Bielawski share authorship on all the papers in question. After the first set of EoCs, Bielawski, at the time a PI at UT Austin, told Chemistry and Engineering News that a “former lab member” had admitted to faking the data. The recent retraction indicates that University of Texas at Austin’s Office of Research Integrity formally investigated the lab, and determined that Bielawski was telling the truth about a former lab member being to blame.
Bielawski has since taken a post at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea. He told us that move was unrelated to anything that happened at UT Austin, but declined to answer other questions. Wiggins got a postdoc at the University of Illinois, which an Illinois spokesperson confirmed lasted from July 1 2013 to January 22 2014; we’re waiting to hear back on our question about whether her departure had anything to do with misconduct.