that sucks

April 19, 2006 at 3:59 pm | | literature, news

Check out this retraction from the Vanden Bout group at UT-Austin. They had to retract three papers (including on Science paper) because (a) they can’t reproduce the raw data and (b) the analysis of the raw data wasn’t correct. Shit.

I’ve met Dave Vanden Bout, and he’s a really nice, smart guy. His group does good work. That’s why it’s so scary to see this retraction. What the hell happened? They were doing single-molecule studies in polymer films, so I suspect they had either bad polymer or impurities that screwed up their raw data. And it sounds like they used the wrong correlation function for their analysis. All three retracted papers came from one student. Maybe they discovered all this when a new student tried to continue her work after she left. I doubt there was any foul play here, just complex mistakes trying to get complex results.

This is why I never publish…


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  1. Looks like they haven’t remember to take those articles off their publications list. They even have a link to the article, giant “This article has been retracted” and all.

    Comment by Kendall — April 22, 2006 #

  2. Yeah, I noticed that. Is it an oversight or intentional?

    Comment by sam — April 23, 2006 #

  3. Seems fishy to me. The explanation seems very terse…If the reason was a bad polymer, why not say so? If the data can not be reproduced, how about some reason why? They must have some idea after all this time. It is what is not said in this retraction that is alarming.

    I suspect an overzealous graduate student.

    I did a search of “retracted” through science and I was supprised by the number of retractions. Are the retractions the casuality of flying at the cutting edge of science or dishonesty? I hope the former.

    ps do pHds ever get retracted?

    Comment by ben — May 19, 2006 #

  4. yeah, ben, i’m starting to get a little more suspicious. looking back at the paper, some of the figures look a little too good…

    Comment by sam — May 21, 2006 #

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