Just a quick post to highlight that the Zharkova et al. paper, that I’ve discussed in a couple of previous posts, has now been retracted. The retraction notice is here. There’s a Retraction Watch post, which also includes a link to an author response. The authors who’ve objected (which is not all of them) seem to be suggesting that the editor’s interpretation of what they were saying in the paper was not a fair reflection of what was being said. This is slightly odd, given that both my email exchange with the lead author, and the lengthy discussion in this Pubpeer thread, suggests that the editor has correctly interpreted what was said in the paper.
I’m always a little uncomfortable about suggesting that papers should be retracted. I think it should mostly be because of some kind of scientific misconduct; we can still learn from papers that end up being wrong. We also have to be careful of papers being retracted because what they say is inconvenient. However, in this case the error is so fundamental that there is little value in such a paper being part of the literature. As far as I can tell, the journal went through a fairly rigorous re-evaluation of the paper and decided that they had no confidence in what was being presented; even the authors’ response to the updated reviews had basic errors, as Michael Brown points out in this Retraction Watch comment. I think the retraction is the correct outcome.