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Research Integrity

Controversial Organometallics Paper Cleared Of Falsification Charge

Publication ethics: Journal publishes correction and editors’ comments

by Carmen Drahl
February 13, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 7

The ACS journal Organometallics has found no evidence of malfeasance in an article that last summer sparked misconduct allegations from chemists (2014, DOI: 10.1021/om4011615). ACS is the publisher of C&EN.

“There was no evidence in any of the materials [we] received that indicated falsified analyses,” Organometallics Editor-in-Chief John A. Gladysz and Associate Editor Lanny S. Liebeskind write in a comment that accompanies the journal’s correction (2014, DOI: 10.1021/om401186q).

The original work, by Reto Dorta and coworkers at the University of Zurich, described palladium and platinum compounds with possible applications in catalysis (2013, DOI: 10.1021/om4000067). Some chemists interpreted text in the paper’s supporting information as an instruction to fabricate data. The compound labeled “14” was missing data. In the space where those data would have been, Dorta had written to his then-graduate student Emma Drinkel: “Emma, please insert NMR data here! where are they? and for this compound, just make up an elemental analysis ...”

The compound was an unstable intermediate that was characterized by proton NMR. The NMR data appear in the revised supporting information. Both versions of the supporting information remain online.

Gladysz declined to comment on the case. However, he claims he has been asked to resign as editor-in-chief of Organometallics as a result of the incident.

“Dr. Gladysz continues as editor of Organometallics,” says Susan King, senior vice president of ACS’s Journals Publishing Group. “Editor appointments are confidential between editors and ACS governance.”

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