Last spring, a group of environmental scientists reported an impressive finding: Hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking) in the Marcellus Shale region of the eastern United States was leaking enough methane to power a city twice the size of Washington, D.C. (We didn’t come up with that comparison, apt though it may be.)
Researchers are retracting a 2016 PNASpaper that described a way to create gasoline-like fuels directly from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Senior author Frederick MacDonnell, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), told us he originally thought his team had made a preliminary breakthrough that might “solve the world’s energy problems.” Instead, he said:
In 2016, researchers at Oregon State University published a paper in PNAS that surprised the research community. They showed that certain fish species travel with their siblings — even fighting against the currents of the Pacific Ocean to stay together.
Needless to say, the research community was skeptical, given how difficult a feat this would be. And their skepticism appears to have been warranted.
Recently, the authors — led by Su Sponaugle — retracted the paper, saying a re-analysis of their data using newly developed research tools has erased their confidence in the results. According to Sponaugle, the quick reversal was thanks to the new technology and open data sharing, which led their findings to be successfully challenged within months of publication. She said her team conducted the study with the “best available knowledge we had at the time,” including what they thought were the most advanced tools available to them:
A $10 million defamation suit filed by a Stanford University professor against a critic and a journal may be an assault on free speech, according to one lawyer, but at least it’s “well written.”
Kenneth White, a lawyer at Southern California firm Brown White & Osborn who frequently blogs about legal issues related to free speech at Popehat, told us:
It’s not incompetently drafted, but it’s clearly vexatious and intended to silence dissent about an alleged scientist’s peer-reviewed article.
Scientists have publicly bemoaned the suit’s existence, as reported by several outlets, including Mashable and Nature.Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford, has alleged that he was defamed in a June article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), which was critical of a 2015 paper co-authored by Jacobson in the same journal. In a complaint filed Sept. 29 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Jacobson accused the journal’s publisher, the National Academy of Sciences, and the paper’s first author, Christopher Clack, an executive at a renewable energy analysis firm, of libel.
A top US official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who was recently appointed by President Donald Trump, has called for the retraction of a paper that suggests the country exports a significant amount of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
The paper, published July 6 in Marine Policy, estimated that in 2015 approximately one-fifth of Alaska pollock exports to Japan were either illegal, unreported, or unregulated — a value of as much as $75 million.
Three years after an investigation revealed a 2013 paper was based on fraudulent data, a journal has finally retracted it.
The paper, published in Journal of Hazardous Materials, was one of seven articles by a team at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) in Chandigarh, India that contain fabricated data, according to an investigation by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in New Delhi. (IMTECH is part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.) Although it took one journal years to take action, another still has not retracted one of the seven flagged papers.Continue reading The three-year delay: Journal finally retracts paper based on made-up data
Stephen Sarre, based at the University of Canberra in Australia, has made a career out of collecting and analyzing poop.
It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Part of his work is designed to answer a multi-million dollar question: Is Tasmania home to foxes, a pest that carries rabies and other diseases and can ravage local wildlife? According to the Australian news outlet ABC, the Tasmanian and Australian governments have spent $50 million (AUD) on hunting foxes on the island since 2001 — even though many have debated whether they are even there.
In 2012, after analyzing thousands of fecal samples, Sarre published a paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology which boldly claimed that “Foxes are now widespread in Tasmania.” But many outside researchers didn’t buy it, and quickly voiced their criticisms of the paper, namely that there may be problems with false positives and the methodology used to analyze the samples. Recently, the journal issued an expression of concern for the paper, citing an ongoing investigation into the allegations.