In a refreshing example of acting quickly, the journal PeerJ issued a warning about a paper just six days after the original article appeared. The reason: readers spotted something fishy with the materials used in the study — about the production of methane used to supply rice paddies with oxygen — and the authors of the article readily agreed. Five days later, PeerJ retracted the paper, which the authors plan to resubmit using new materials.
Eleven days is very speedy for a retraction, but not a record. That title likely goes to the European Heart Journal, which in 2014 yanked an article after only 48 hours. The paper had alleged that the sloppy work of a Dutch researcher had led to some 800,000 deaths. On the other extreme is the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde (the Dutch Journal of Medicine), which in 2003 retracted a curious case study about a young man who died after coughing up a quart of what evidently was urine. Except that the case was a fake — something it took the journal 80 years to recognize officially.