Now-retracted chem paper’s problems “should have been noticed by the referees,” group says

Last year, chemist Marcus Tius at the University of Hawaii saw a paper describing the synthesis of some organic compounds, and was “struck by the implausibility” of the reported structures. So he joined up with some colleagues to try to replicate the data.

While Tius and his team were trying to repeat the experiment, however, in December 2017 the journal — Organic Letters — retracted the paper. The journal, published by the American Chemical Society, noted that the authors had not been able to produce crystal structures that confirm they had synthesized those compounds in particular. So Tius and his colleagues knew they couldn’t replicate the findings — but carried on their experiment anyway:

Continue reading Now-retracted chem paper’s problems “should have been noticed by the referees,” group says

Chemistry journal retracts highly criticized paper

A chemistry journal has retracted a nanoparticle paper following heavy outcry from readers, who alleged the paper contained signs of obvious manipulation.

After the paper appeared in 2017, one critic lamented it contained “obviously fabricated” images, and asked the journal to retract it. Another suggested the presence of one image merited “an instant lifetime ban.”

The first comment about the paper appeared on PubPeer three months ago; earlier this month, the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering retracted the paper.

Here’s the notice:

Continue reading Chemistry journal retracts highly criticized paper

Author retracts 2009 chemistry paper with “heavily doctored” images

A researcher has retracted a 2009 chemistry paper after discovering that a figure had been “inappropriately edited.”

According to the journal, a reader brought the images in question in Figure 1 to the editors’ attention last September. Timothy P. Lodge, distinguished professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis — and editor of Macromolecules through December 2017 — told Retraction Watch:

Continue reading Author retracts 2009 chemistry paper with “heavily doctored” images

Caught Our Notice: After ORI flags a paper by former grad student, university flags another

Via Wikimedia

Title: The L3MBTL3 Methyl-Lysine Reader Domain Functions As a Dimer

What Caught Our Attention: Six months ago, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) determined that former graduate student Brandi Baughman had doctored 11 figures in a PLOS ONE article, which was retracted shortly after.  The PLOS ONE paper listed two affiliations for Baughman — the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC); now UNC has triggered a second retraction of a paper co-authored by Baughman, also due to research misconduct. Although the ORI notice makes no mention of this additional paper, the agency recently took a “targeted approach” by not issuing comprehensive findings of misconduct for one researcher, in order to conserve resources. Of course, sometimes universities make findings that don’t meet the ORI’s bar, too. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: After ORI flags a paper by former grad student, university flags another

“Searching our souls”: Authors retract paper after researcher admits to fabricating data

Researchers at a prominent Japanese university have retracted a 2016 paper in a chemistry journal after the first author admitted to scientific misconduct.

According to the notice, Kyushu University investigated and verified that the first author had committed scientific misconduct.

We requested a copy of the misconduct report, which revealed that the researcher, Prasenjit Mahato, a postdoctoral fellow at Kyushu University who is no longer affiliated with the university, “admitted to falsifying research” in two papers on which he was first author: a highly cited 2015 paper in Nature Materials, which was retracted in 2016, as well as the 2016 paper in Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), retracted earlier this month. The university investigated and confirmed misconduct in both papers.

We covered the Nature Materials retraction last year, but at the time, the paper’s corresponding author, Nobuo Kimizuka, only told us that the “matter has been under investigation by the formal investigation panel of our University.”

According to the five-page misconduct report — which we translated from Japanese using One Hour Translation and is also available in Japanese on the university’s website — in July 2016, a member of the lab (“Faculty Member B”) began to suspect a problem after he reviewed the data with Mahato (“the defendant”): Continue reading “Searching our souls”: Authors retract paper after researcher admits to fabricating data

As third retraction for prominent physicist appears, university still won’t acknowledge investigation

Despite a university’s attempts to avoid discussing a misconduct investigation involving one of its former (and prominent) researchers, we keep reading more about it.

In the third retraction this year for physicist Dmitri Lapotko, the journal mentions a misconduct investigation at Rice University, which concluded the data had been falsified. Trouble is, whenever we’ve tried to talk to Rice about that investigation, they won’t even confirm it took place.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Transient Photothermal Spectra of Plasmonic Nanobubbles,” published by Langmuir:

Continue reading As third retraction for prominent physicist appears, university still won’t acknowledge investigation

Chemistry papers challenged a paradigm — until the authors spotted a pivotal error

Several years ago, a group of four chemists believed they had stumbled upon evidence that contradicted a fairly well-established model in fluid dynamics.

Between 2013 and 2015, the researchers published a series of four papers detailing their results — two in ACS Macro Letters and two in MacromoleculesTimothy P. Lodge, the journals’ editor and a distinguished professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, explained that the results were “somewhat controversial,” because they appeared to contradict the generally accepted model for how some polymer fluids move.

Indeed, the papers sparked debate between the authors and other experts who questioned the new data, arguing it didn’t upend the previous model.

Then, in 2015, the authors realized their critics might be correct.  Continue reading Chemistry papers challenged a paradigm — until the authors spotted a pivotal error

Why don’t the raw data match what was reported in a chemistry paper?

Chemistry researchers in China have retracted their 2016 paper after reporting that the raw data did not match what they presented in the article.

The authors were attempting to develop a method to produce large amounts of a high-quality two-dimensional form of antimonene, a prized crystal structure that has been notoriously difficult to synthesize reliably.

They were successful, according to the paper, achieving “a large quantity of few-layer antimonene” and demonstrating its “exact atomical structure” and properties.

But they may have spoken too soon. Continue reading Why don’t the raw data match what was reported in a chemistry paper?

Two retracted papers were published behind bosses’ backs

Researchers have retracted two 2016 papers from the same journal which were published without the permission of the supervising scientists.

According to the retraction notices, the two Applied Materials & Interfaces articles were “published without the full knowledge or consent of the principal investigators” who guided the research, but are not named in the notices.

The papers share the same three authors, listed in the same order. Last author Fangqiong Tang and middle author Laifeng Li are principal investigators in different labs at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. First author Nanjing Hao was formerly in Tang’s research group, but is now at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Fabrication of Carbohydrate-Conjugated Fingerprintlike Mesoporous Silica Net for the Targeted Capture of Bacteria,” which was retracted only months after it was published in November 2016: Continue reading Two retracted papers were published behind bosses’ backs

A researcher sued critics of his work. Now he has 13 retractions.

Fazlul Sarkar
Fazlul Sarkar

A cancer researcher who sued PubPeer commenters for criticizing his work has lost six more papers, bringing his total to 13 retractions. 

Four of the new retraction notices issued by the journal Cancer cite an investigation at Wayne State University in Michigan into the work of Fazlul Sarkar and some of his colleagues. All the new notices, including the other two in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, are for image-related issues.

Retraction Watch readers will recognize the name Fazlul Sarkar, who took PubPeer to court to unmask the anonymous critics whose comments cost him a job at the University of Mississippi. According to this document, Sarkar retired from Wayne State this year.  

Here’s the first of the four Cancer retraction notices, all of which were issued on July 29: Continue reading A researcher sued critics of his work. Now he has 13 retractions.