Science has issued an editorial expression of concern regarding a 2004 paper that reportedly used RNA to make palladium nanoparticles, and the journal says it still may retract the paper or further correct it.
There's been a long-simmering debate over the paper, Nature News reports. Another North Carolina State University chemist Stefan Franzen raised questions about it and filed a formal complaint with NCSU about the work of Daniel Feldheim, Bruce Eaton, and graduate student Lina Gugliotti.
In 2013, the US National Science Foundation inspector-general advised the agency to issue a finding of research misconduct as the authors allegedly falsified data in the paper, but in a final report, the agency said the evidence didn't support a misconduct charge.
Still, the report noted that the researchers' actions "were a significant departure from standard research practices," and Feldheim and Eaton, both now at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Gugliotti are prohibited from receiving NSF funds in the future if they don't correct the "misleading results."
In the editorial expression of concern, Science's editor-in-chief, Marcia McNutt alerts readers to the report's conclusion and says Science will either retract the paper or issue another correction after discussing the NSF ruling with the authors.
Earlier this month, McNutt had told Retraction Watch that the journal would retract the paper, but Retraction Watch's Shannon Palus now reports that Science is re-evaluating that approach as one of the authors has "submitted a last-minute correction."
"Just as we were going to press with the retraction, one of the authors, Feldheim, submitted a correction of the paper as stipulated by NSF as a requirement to be reinstated for funding (according to him)," McNutt tells Palus. "In order to give us some time to consider what he submitted, we changed the retraction to an Editorial Expression of Concern."
She adds that the issue will be resolved in the February 5 issue of Science.