UPDATED: Elsevier retracts a paper on solar cells that appears to plagiarize a Nature journal. But the reason is…odd.

The similarities between recent papers in two different journals about energy were striking — so striking that a number of people have taken to Twitter and Facebook to let the world know about them.

[1415 UTC, August 29, 2018: See update at the end of this post.]

One paper, “Systematic investigation of the impact of operation conditions on the degradation behaviour of perovskite solar cells,” was authored by a group of researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland and appeared on January 1, 2018 in Nature Energy. Its abstract reads: Continue reading UPDATED: Elsevier retracts a paper on solar cells that appears to plagiarize a Nature journal. But the reason is…odd.

Author under fire has eight papers retracted, including seven from one journal

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:

Continue reading Author under fire has eight papers retracted, including seven from one journal

“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

Author loses five recent papers for copying multiple figures, unspecified “overlap”

Two journals have retracted five recent papers by a researcher in Saudi Arabia after discovering extensive overlap, which one journal called plagiarism.

In one retracted paper, all schemes and figures are copies from other publications; in another, more than half of the figures are lifted. The journal that retracted the other three papers did not provide details about the nature of the overlap.

All five retracted papers—originally published within the last 15 months—have the same corresponding author: Soliman Mahmoud Soliman Abdalla, a professor of physics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

According to a spokesperson for Polymers, readers flagged two papers in July 2017; both were retracted in August.

The spokesperson for Polymers told us that the journal ran the papers through the plagiarism detection software, iThenticate, but found “no significant levels of copied text.” The journal says it missed the overlap because:

Continue reading Author loses five recent papers for copying multiple figures, unspecified “overlap”

Post-publication peer review in action: Science flags paper just days after publication

Science has issued an expression of concern for a widely covered materials science paper published on Friday, citing issues with the supplementary data.

The paper — which caught the attention of multiple news outlets — added properties to cotton fibers in vitro, potentially enabling researchers to manufacture fabric that can fluoresce or carry magnetic properties.

The move to issue an expression of concern was unusually quick. According to the journal, an expert who received the paper from a journalist under a media embargo contacted Science to flag issues in some of the supplementary data. At the time of this post, the paper does not yet have an entry on PubPeer.

Here’s the full expression of concern:

Continue reading Post-publication peer review in action: Science flags paper just days after publication

“Scientifically misleading errors” prompt authors to withdraw paper

A group of authors have withdrawn a paper after revealing a litany of issues to the journal that published it. Among those issues were “scientifically misleading errors,” “insufficient” validation, and a disagreement between the researchers on whether it should have been published at all.

Optimal DNA structure of reverse-hairpin beacons for label-free and positive surface enhanced Raman scattering assays,” originally published in June in Optical Materials Express (OMEx), was retracted Aug. 7. The paper purported to describe a detection method for RNA associated with influenza virus. It has not yet been cited, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

Here’s the full list of issues cited in the retraction notice: Continue reading “Scientifically misleading errors” prompt authors to withdraw paper

Leibniz Prize belatedly awarded to scientist cleared of misconduct

Just before the March ceremony to bestow the coveted Leibniz Prize, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) received some disturbing allegations. An anonymous tipster accused one of the 10 scientists slotted to receive the award, materials scientist Britta Nestler, of misconduct. So the DFG held the ceremony on March 15, but suspended Nestler’s award.

Four months later, Nestler now has her Leibniz, along with the €2.5 million in prize money. This week, the DFG — which awards the Leibniz — announced that it had given Nestler her prize on July 4, during its annual meeting, after determining the accusations were without merit.

Secretary General of the DFG and Chair of the Committee of Inquiry on Allegations of Scientific Misconduct Dorothee Dzwonnek said in a statement:

Continue reading Leibniz Prize belatedly awarded to scientist cleared of misconduct

Author retracts nanotechnology paper over doubts about key results

The corresponding author of a 2015 nanotechnology paper has penned a lengthy — and revealing — retraction notice, explaining why he is not certain about the findings.

In the notice, Chang Ming Li from the Institute for Clean Energy & Advanced Materials (ICEAM) at Southwest University in China, states that there is “insufficient evidence to conclusively” identify the composition of the nanowire array described in the article, which “severely undermines the validity of the reported conclusions.”

The 2015 paper has been considered “highly cited” by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters, meaning it has received a disproportionate amount of cites given its field and publication year.

Li also said that the paper — which appeared in Physical Chemistry, Chemical Physics — was “submitted and published without my knowledge or permission.” He has not responded to our request to explain how that could have happened, given that he was the corresponding author. Continue reading Author retracts nanotechnology paper over doubts about key results

Retraction notice cites misconduct investigation into endowed chair’s work; he threatens to sue

Mark Jackson

A researcher has threatened to sue publisher Taylor & Francis for mentioning a misconduct investigation into his work in a retraction notice.

According to the notice, the publisher retracted a 2008 paper and a book chapter after learning about a misconduct investigation into the work of Mark Jackson, a department head and endowed chair, respectively, at universities in Kansas.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the nature of the misconduct investigation; Jackson told us he initiated the retractions after raising concerns his colleagues had violated intellectual property. He has since told the publisher he would take legal action if it didn’t remove the phrase noting that the retractions stem from a misconduct investigation into his work from the notice.

Here’s the notice, issued by Materials Science and Technology:

Continue reading Retraction notice cites misconduct investigation into endowed chair’s work; he threatens to sue

Prominent physicist loses paper over data falsification

A paper by a promising nanotechnologist has been retracted for data falsification.

Dmitri Lapotko, a Belarusian researcher with a background in laser weaponry, made a name for himself at Rice University in Houston, where he studied the use of nanotechnology to diagnose and treat human diseases. That work earned him significant press coverage, including stories in the New York Times and Science.

But that nanobubble may be bursting. The journal Theranostics has retracted a 2011 paper on which Lapotko is the last and corresponding author, citing questions over data falsification. What’s more, another journal has warned readers there may be a problem with a figure in a 2012 paper on which Lapotko is listed as last author.

Lapotko has since left Rice for Masimo Corp., a developer of monitoring devices for patients in the operating room.

According to the Theranostics notice:

Continue reading Prominent physicist loses paper over data falsification