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    Brainiac

    Journal retractions in record time

    An Indian woman replants rice saplings in a paddy field on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. More than 70 percent of India's 1.25 billion citizens engage in agriculture. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
    AP Photo/Anupam Nath
    A study about the production of methane used to supply rice paddies (pictured) with oxygen ended up facing reader scrutiny.

    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.

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