Hazardous materials: Elsevier retracts 11 chemistry papers from Brazilian group, citing fraud
The notice is pegged to an October 2009 article in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science titled “Immobilization of 5-amino-1,3,4-thiadiazole-thiol onto kanemite for thorium(IV) removal: Thermodynamics and equilibrium study” by Denis L. Guerra, Marcos A. Carvalho, Victor L. Leidens, Alane A. Pinto, Rúbia R. Viana, and Claudio Airoldi.
According to the notice:
This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.
Reason: This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).
This article has been retracted at the request of the Editors of the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science as fraudulent results have been found in this article and other publications in Elsevier journals by the same authors, namely
- Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 337 (2009) 122–130
- Inorganic Chemistry Communications 12 (2009) 1145–1149
- Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 101 (2010) 122–133
- Process Safety and Environmental Protection 88 (2010) 53–61
- Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids 70 (2009) 1413–1421
- Applied Surface Science 256 (2009) 702–709
- Inorganic Chemistry Communications 11 (2008) 20–23
- Inorganic Chemistry Communications 12 (2009) 1107–1111
- Journal of Hazardous Materials 172 (2009) 507–514
- Journal of Hazardous Materials 171 (2009) 514–523
- Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 338 (2009) 30–39
Publication of an article in a peer-reviewed journal is an important building-block in the development of science. Elsevier has defined policies and ethical guidelines that have to be obeyed by authors and editors and Elsevier takes its duties of guardianship over the scholarly record extremely seriously.
The Editors of the Elsevier journals involved found that the allegations of fraud are conclusive and they have decided that these papers should be retracted from the journals.
A search of Medline revealed several other papers by the Brazilians that do not appear to have been retracted, including more in the Journal of Hazardous Materials published as recently as last month, “Organofunctionalized Amazon smectite for dye removal from aqueous medium–kinetic and thermodynamic adsorption investigations.”
We spoke with Diana Aga, the new editor of the hazmat journal. She just came on board the masthead, so didn’t have much to say about the case. But she did add that another retraction is on the way, although she referred us to a colleague for more information. We tried to reach that person, but didn’t succeed.
Thomas Reller, a top spokesman for Elsevier, agreed to dig into the matter for us but said it would take some time to contact the proper people. Still, we appreciate his willingness to help, and will update with anything we hear.
Most of the papers have received minimal attention from other researchers. However, the 2008 paper in Inorganic Chemistry Communications, “Performance of modified montmorillonite clay in mercury adsorption process and thermodynamic studies,” has been cited 31 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Science.
We reached senior author Airoldi, of the State University of Campinas, by email. According to the researcher, sometime last year a young scientist at in Portugal accused Airoldi’s group of having fabricated nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) images in the 11 papers, particularly for carbon and silica. The spectra used in the images was wrong, said the scientist, whom Airoldi called “an expert in this technique.” Airoldi said he was “only a user of the technique,” and had “never used this wrong way.”
The papers were among approximately 21 that Airoldi wrote with Guerra, then a former graduate student, who is now at Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso. We have attempted to reach him for comment but have yet to receive a reply. Airoldi, for his part, claims to have more than 400 publications, and says he invited the Portuguese scientist to scrutinize them for evidence of fraud but received no response from the whistleblower.
Airoldi said he stands by the work. He defended himself and Guerra, saying they did “not fabricate the spectra.” The Portuguese researcher, he claimed, pushed Elsevier “in [the] direction” of a fraud judgement.
Meanwhile, he said by email:
Now I am in bad condition in my University and maybe some restrictions will reach me.