That study reporting worrisome levels of zinc in tuna? It’s being retracted

Recently, a rash of news outlets posted concerns that canned tuna and other products may contain potentially dangerous levels of zinc. They were all wrong.

News outlets such as The Daily Mail and The Sun reported findings from a recent study, which showed that canned foods such as tuna may contain 100 times the daily limit of zinc — raising concerns about how such huge doses of the mineral could be causing digestion problems. The last author of the study told Retraction Watch the paper is going to be retracted, because the authors made a fundamental error calculating the amount of zinc present in canned foods.

Last week, the UK’s biggest health website NHS Choices posted a critique of the paper, in which they recalculated the levels of zinc present in canned foods:

Continue reading That study reporting worrisome levels of zinc in tuna? It’s being retracted

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

“Major advance” in solar power retracted for reproducibility issues

The authors of a highly cited 2016 research letter on a way to improve the efficiency of solar panels have retracted their work following “concerns about the reproducibility.”

Given the potential importance of the data, it would be nice to know what exactly went wrong, and why. However, the retraction notice doesn’t provide many details, and doesn’t even specify if the authors did indeed fail to reproduce the data.

The letter, titled “Graded bandgap perovskite solar cells,” was published in Nature Materials by a group out of the University of California at Berkeley and the affiliated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The 2016 article has been cited 16 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, earning it the ranking of “highly cited.”

Berkeley heralded the findings in a press release as a “major advance” in the field of solar energy:

Continue reading “Major advance” in solar power retracted for reproducibility issues

Unusual: Author uses a reference list to accuse a paper of plagiarism

Here’s an unusual way to allege plagiarism: Do it in the reference list.

That’s what Brian Levine, a professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, did when he came across a paper he wanted to cite but suspected of plagiarism. When Levine published his 2017 paper, he cited the paper in question as:  

R.Rajan, “ Feasibility, Effectiveness, Performance and Potential Solutions on Distributed Content Sharing System [plagiarized],” Intl. J. Engineering and Computer Science, 5(1):15638–15649, Jan 2016 http://www.ijecs.in/ issue/v5- i1/30%20ijecs.pdf.

Levine’s paper, which explores a way of identifying perpetrators of online child pornography, provides no further details about the nature of the plagiarism or from what source the paper allegedly plagiarized. Continue reading Unusual: Author uses a reference list to accuse a paper of plagiarism

Three papers retracted… for being cited too frequently

An engineering journal has retracted three 2016 papers. The reason: They had been cited too often.

Although the reason for the retractions may sound odd, the editor, Minvydas Ragulskis, told Retraction Watch he was concerned an author had engaged in citation manipulation. Specifically, Ragulskis explained that the majority of the citations came from papers at a 2017 conference on which one of the authors, Magd Abdel Wahab, was chairraising suspicion that he had asked conference presenters to cite his work.

Almost three-quarters of papers that cited Wahab’s work originated from the conference, which “is large enough to assume a high probability for citation manipulation,” Ragulskis said. (Wahab, Professor and Chair of Applied Mechanics at Ghent University in Belgium, was not a co-author on the conference papers that cited his work.)

Continue reading Three papers retracted… for being cited too frequently

Author under fire on PubPeer issues puzzling correction to chem paper

A researcher whose work has been heavily questioned on PubPeer has corrected a figure on a 2015 paper in Talanta — but the text of the correction doesn’t match the actual changes.

Recently, Rashmi Madhuri at the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) in Dhanbad corrected a 2015 paper about a diagnostic sensor that uses nanoparticles, noting that there was a “small error” in the legend describing figure 1. But the corrected image bears the same legend it had before, and instead swapped a panel of the figure that had been questioned on PubPeer.

Here’s another puzzling element to the story: Gary Christian at the University of Washington, one of the editors-in-chief of the journal, tells us he doesn’t “recall being aware of the corrigendum:”

Continue reading Author under fire on PubPeer issues puzzling correction to chem 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

Journal retracts “hopelessly flawed” paper linking cell phone radiation to pain

Mario Romero-Ortega. Credit: UT-Dallas

A journal is retracting a paper linking radio waves from cell phone towers to pain in amputees, despite objections from the authors.

Anthropogenic Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Elicit Neuropathic Pain in an Amputation Model,” originally published Jan. 16, 2016 in PLOS ONE, suggested that rats with injured nerves experienced pain when exposed to the type of electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phone network towers. A press release issued by the University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas) — where the corresponding author Mario Romero-Ortega and two co-first authors are based — said that this phenomenon has been reported anecdotally by people missing limbs.

But the study, especially its methodology, met with immediate criticism in the article’s comment section. PLOS ONE noted in March 2016 that the authors had contacted the journal regarding an error in some of the exposure levels reported in the study, which journal staff were “looking into.” In December 2016, the journal told the authors it was going to retract the paper. Now, more than one year later, it finally has.

Ken Foster, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who commented in February 2016 that the paper was “hopelessly flawed,” told us: Continue reading Journal retracts “hopelessly flawed” paper linking cell phone radiation to pain

They thought they might solve the world’s energy problems. Then they realized they were wrong.

Frederick MacDonnell

Researchers are retracting a 2016 PNAS paper 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:

It was an elaborate trap we fell into.

In a retraction notice that contains more information than we usually see, MacDonnell and his co-authors wrote: Continue reading They thought they might solve the world’s energy problems. Then they realized they were wrong.

Elsevier retracting 26 papers accepted because of fake reviews

Elsevier has retracted 13 papersand says it will retract 13 moreafter discovering they were accepted because of fake reviews.

A spokesperson for Elsevier told us that the journals are in the process of retracting all 26 papers affected by the “peer-review manipulation” and “unexplained authorship irregularities.” Most share one corresponding author, a physical science researcher based in Iran. Continue reading Elsevier retracting 26 papers accepted because of fake reviews