The University of Texas (UT) at Austin does not have the authority to revoke degrees, a Texas judge ruled yesterday in a case involving a chemist whom the university alleges committed misconduct.
UT revoked Suvi Orr’s PhD in 2014, two years after the retraction of a paper that made up part of her thesis because, according to the retraction notice, some of the study was not reproducible. The university told Orr — who earned her PhD in 2008 and is now a researcher at Pfizer — that “scientific misconduct occurred in the production of your dissertation,” according to a letter to Orr from Judith Langlois, senior vice provost and dean of graduate studies.
The UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry has retracted a 2017 paper in one of its journals after learning that the authors stole the article from other researchers during peer review.
The offending article, “Typical and interstratified arrangements in Zn/Al layered double hydroxides: an experimental and theoretical approach,” appeared in CrystalEngComm, and was written by Priyadarshi Roy Chowdhury and Krishna G. Bhattacharyya, of Gauhati University in Jalukbari.
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:
Decades ago, unbeknownst to each other, two chemists were independently working on a screening approach to identify new potential drugs. Both published papers about the technique around the same time. So now, when scientists write papers that cite the technique, who should get credit for discovering it?
Decades later, that question still hasn’t been answered — and the researchers continue to argue, this time over one’s decision not to cite the other’s work.
A researcher whose work on the use of nanomaterials has been heavily scrutinized on PubPeer — with one critic alleging a paper contained “obviously fabricated” images — has lost eight papers. [Editor’s note: See update below.]
The eight articles — seven from Biosensors and Bioelectronics and one from Analytica Chimica Acta, both published by Elsevier — all cite issues related to duplications, and conclude with some version of the following:
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.
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.”
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:
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: