Nature surprised few He took back a piece of paper claims a major advance in high-temperature superconductivity. Ranga P., a faculty member at the University of Rochester who led the research. This is the second article the magazine has retracted over Diaz’s objections. or he is said to have resisted this withdrawal, as he expressly refused to answer to Nature on the subject.
Diaz’s superconductivity work focuses on hydrogen-rich chemicals formed under extreme pressure. Other research groups have shown that pressure forces hydrogen into crystals inside the material, where it encourages the formation of electron pairs that enable superconductivity. This allows these chemicals to superconduct at elevated temperatures. Both of Diaz’s papers described a chemical that could superconduct at room temperature and extreme pressures, and a second under slightly lower pressures within the reach of readily available laboratory equipment.
But as the research community dug into the details of the work, problems became apparent in the first of these papers. Diaz’s team used a non-standard method to account for background noise in a key experiment and did not include details in the paper on how this was done. In other words, the data in the paper looked good, but it was unclear whether it accurately reflected the experimental results. As a result, Nature retracted it, although all nine authors of the paper protested the decision at the time.
So it was surprising that the same journal accepted an article describing similar work from the same research group. Not surprisingly, similar issues have arisen. In this case, eight of the paper’s 11 authors say they don’t believe the paper shows the data accurately represent what happened in the lab. As the retraction notice states, “The researchers who contributed to the work expressed the opinion that the published paper did not accurately reflect the provenance of the materials studied, the experimental measurements performed, and the data processing protocols.”
A rough translation from academic language: “We don’t know how the images of the data on the paper were created.”
As noted above, Diaz, along with two colleagues at the University of Rochester, did not respond to the retraction. His spokesman said frankly The New York Times said “Professor Diaz wants to resubmit the scientific article to a journal with a more independent editorial process.” It’s not clear how “independent” translates into “most people who supposedly produced the data find it acceptable to worry that it might be faked.”
If anything, nature’s failure here is apparent did Treat the peer review of the second paper as if it were independent of the first paper. In a way, it is idealistic, ignoring any social context and focusing on what is presented on paper. But that was naive, and the previous paper was retracted precisely because the paper did not present an accurate picture of the experiments.
For Diaz, that may be the least of his worries. A third paper he authored, published in Physical Review Letters, Also withdrawn (Again, over Diaz’s objections). In this case, there are indications that the graph purporting to show recent data is simplistic Copied from Diaz’s thesis, which was on a completely different topic. There are also allegations of plagiarism in his thesis. The University of Rochester has launched a review of Diaz’s work, and while the findings of those reviews are generally kept confidential, any ramifications they may have are hard to miss.