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.
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 chair—raising 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.)
But the study, especially its methodology, met with immediate criticism in the article’s comment section. PLOS ONEnoted 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.
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.
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 authors—Alexander 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 Kholmetskii—who 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.
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 nanofluids—fluids that contain nanoparticles—change as the fluid moves through different materials.
According to the editor-in-chief, Greg Naterer, an outside expert—Asterios Pantokratoras, based at Democritus University of Thrace in Greece—contacted 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.
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.