“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

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

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

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

A physics journal agreed to retract a paper several months ago. It’s still not retracted.

A physics journal says it has planned for several months to retract a 2006 paper by a prominent researcher with multiple retractions, after a concerned reader notified the editor about extensive duplication.

But, more than seven months after receiving the complaint, the journal Thin Solid Films has not yet taken action.

So what’s taking so long?

According to the editor, Joseph Greene, the delay occurred because “the publication team missed the request.”

Duplication allegations have followed the paper’s corresponding author Naba K. Sahoo for the past few years. Sahoo, a top physicist in India, has already had seven papers retracted for duplication—five earlier this year (1, 2), and two last year.

Although we did not hear back from the journal or the publisher, Elsevier, forwarded email correspondence provide insights about the Thin Solid Films paper. Continue reading A physics journal agreed to retract a paper several months ago. It’s still not retracted.

Caught Our Notice: 4th retraction for prominent physicist (with new funding) cites falsification

Via Wikimedia

Title: Improved Cellular Specificity of Plasmonic Nanobubbles versus Nanoparticles in Heterogeneous Cell Systems

What Caught Our Attention: Nanotechnology researcher Dmitri Lapotko, whose work with lasers continues to catch media attention, has earned his fourth retraction.  As with the other three, the latest notice mentions an investigation at Rice University, but provides no specific information other than “data falsification” for images, and no indication as to the offending researcher(s). (In the past, Rice hasn’t even confirmed to us the presence of an investigation.) Only Laptoko and Ekaterina Lukianova-Hleb are common authors to all retractions. Despite these recent setbacks, Lapotko has not fared too badly in research funding.  Continue reading Caught Our Notice: 4th retraction for prominent physicist (with new funding) cites falsification

Florida researcher “cherry picked” data, university investigation finds

Credit: University of Florida

A journal has retracted a 2014 paper after a university investigation found that the first author only reported certain data points that supported the paper’s conclusion.

Based on a whistleblower’s tip, the University of Florida investigated work by Huabei Jiang, a professor of biomedical engineering, and Lei Yao, a former postdoc and scientist in Jiang’s lab, for research misconduct. According to documents obtained by Retraction Watch through a  public records request, in 2015 Yao confessed to selectively choosing data in an email to the whistleblower. Continue reading Florida researcher “cherry picked” data, university investigation finds

After journal retracts their paper, authors post rebuttal on arXiv

In July 2017, just days after accepting and publishing a paper, a physics journal discovered several scientific errors” and decided to retract it.

But the authorsAlexander Kholmetskii and Tolga Yarman—strongly objected to the journal’s decision, so much so they published a detailed rebuttal to the retraction on the preprint server arXiv.

The paper explores a new principle related to Einstein’s theory of relativity. According to the authors, after the Canadian Journal of Physics notified them on July 17 about the decision to retract the paper, they asked the editor to publish their objection “to defend our sound point of view, and beyond this, our scientific reputation.” But Kholmetskiiwho lists his affiliation at Belarus State University in Minsk, and Yarman, a professor at Okan University in Istanbul—told us that the editor found their response “inappropriate.” As a result, the authors turned to aiXiv to protest the retraction.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Conservative relativity principle and energy-momentum conservation in a superimposed gravitational and electric field:” Continue reading After journal retracts their paper, authors post rebuttal on arXiv

“The results are essentially meaningless:” Typos, missing variables found throughout physics paper

A physics journal has retracted a 2014 paper after a reader discovered a slew of errors.

The paper, published in the Journal of Thermophysics and Heat Transfer, explored how the properties of nanofluidsfluids that contain nanoparticles—change as the fluid moves through different materials.  

According to the editor-in-chief, Greg Naterer, an outside expertAsterios Pantokratoras, based at Democritus University of Thrace in Greececontacted the journal in May 2017 after discovering “errors with symbols in equations and figures.” The journal investigated the concerns and reached out to the paper’s corresponding author V. Ramachandra Prasad at Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science in India for a response; after several rounds of comments from Pantokratoras and Prasad, the journal concluded that the paper should be retracted.

Naterer explained: Continue reading “The results are essentially meaningless:” Typos, missing variables found throughout physics paper

“Devastating:” Authors retract paper in Nature journal upon discovering error

Several years ago, Chris Dames thought he had made an exciting discovery, a “secret sauce” that would allow him to design a device using a novel mechanism.

In a 2014 Nature Communications paper, Dames—who works at the University of California at Berkeley—and his team described the first experimental results for the device, a photon thermal diode. A thermal diode conducts heat in one direction but not in the other, and in theory, could have broad applications—for example, provide barriers that shield buildings from excess heat or use heat to power computers.

But two years later, in August 2016, a colleague thought he had discovered a fundamental error in the design of the experiments. Bair Budaev, who also works at the University of California at Berkeley, believed that the authors made a “a fundamental symmetry error” which invalidated their results. Continue reading “Devastating:” Authors retract paper in Nature journal upon discovering error