Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Retraction in Science

Regardless of the journal, when a paper or series of papers are withdrawn, the authors' scholarship become questionable. But if a Science paper is withdrawn, it takes more than that.

This week's Science issued a retraction of an aged (2006) paper on laser induced hydrogen desorption from silicon surfaces. The authors, led by Philip I. Cohen, stated that:
Our recent attempts to reproduce these experiments have been unsuccessful, and the free electron laser facility at Vanderbilt, a unique light source for this experiment, has shut down, prohibiting further research.
It's hard for the authors, since no instrument is perfect and there is always room for error. But if the mistake is done on purpose, it is a different story.

Too bad for the scientists who are following this work to do something better.

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