I am doomed…

No, I am not doomed. No one wants that to happen to me (well, I lie again; I know someone, ahem, FS?). Anyway, this was just to attract your attention. It works all the time, folks. Trippy trippy, stripy!

In truth, FS is doomed. But being the humble man I am, I did not want to say that straightaway. Because I am the challenger, the underdog, a Goliath fighter (people call him David, but that may soon change), Rapha Z!

I have the most brilliant nanoscientists backing me up: the world-renowned Mathias Brust — the very first person in the world after someone else to synthesize thiolated gold nanoparticles — Dave Fernig, Retraction-Watcher extraordinaire, and Philip Moriarty, loquacious professor of STM 101 — but he can go up to eleven!. I have had the pleasure to put my name in some of the papers of these distinguished buddies (although to be honest, they put the money and I contribute with my students’ brains).

In a recent highlight of my achievements on stripy nanoparticles, FS was quoted to have said

“Three groups of the highest standings have done measurements on my particles, and concluded that there are stripe-like domains,” says Stellacci. “Of course they could be wrong, but it is impossible that this is the trivial matter that Lévy portrays.”

Three groups of the highest standings??? Oh man… mates Moriarty, Brust and I have not been invited to play with the stripy samples! Instead, FS chose three of his bed buddies; what an audicious man! Look, send us your samples; we’ll teach you how trivial it is to show that it is impossible the particles have stripes.

So it seems that FS doubts of our scientific abilities. Boy, I have a fabulous track record worth a distinguished professorship (hey Harvard, MIT, Cambridge, note that Liverpool is not letting me go for cheap!). Since 2010, I have published 5 top-notch research papers in top journals such as ACS Nano, Small and Soft Matter, in three of them as last author!

All these papers have been cited 65 times in total, that’s an average of 13 citations per year! Who can beat that with my group of 5-7 people, eh?

My top paper is ‘Stripy nanoparticles revisited’, which after a battle of three years and making the rounds in fancy but disreputable magazines ended up in the big journal Small, and has already been cited 12 times (and I have contributed to a few of these!).

I have also published 4 reviews with my buddies in the last 5 years; they are about nanoparticle imaging, nanoparticle tracking, nanoparticle visualization and nanoparticle stripping.

I am proud that my best students are following my steps (and me on Twitter!). Take for example Nicolas Schaeffer, best-in-class nanoparticulist. Since he has left my lab in 2010, he has published already four papers, one as first author! Top unis, hurry up to get him a faculty position before a buddy gets him one!

My best act is yet to happen. For months pending publication hopefully soon to be published in the world’s biggest journal, PLOS ONE, where only the top many thousand authors can publish each year, I and mate Moriarty are putting FS to shame with a ‘Critical assessment of the evidence for striped nanoparticles’. Having received more 250 comments on the post-publication-peer-rebuke site PubPeer, we have a winner!

FS is doomed, indeed.


Data re-use update

Every time I look at a stripy nanoparticle paper, I see the same images. I am not at all surprised about that, because hey, once you’ve convinced everyone that your nanoparticles got stripes by tricking a glamour magazine into publishing artefacts, you’ve got no need to spend time fabricating more images with stripy particles; you can live the dolce vita by analyzing and re-analyzing the same artefacts. Make no mistake, F. S. has been preaching to the converted.

But I am not that credulous; I don’t buy the stripy religion. Je sers la science et c’est ma joie! (I save science and this is my job!). Hey, I publish in a blog (well, now two of them) for anyone to see, not in those glamour journals that feed sexy stuff to the ingenuous.

I have to admit, however, that the first time I read the stripy paper published in the Journal of Scanning Probe Microscopy, F. S. tricked me into believing that there was new data. Hey, it even occurred to me that F. S. is not such a wicked folk after all!

Oh, boy, was I wrong (for all you out there, non-believers: see, I admit I may be wrong once in a long while!). I have now revisited that paper, and in fact ALL of the data in it have been re-used!

Wait, there is more. They cite their previous work, but go to great lengths to avoid writing that the data are re-used:

Much of the challenge lies in the sample preparation and in the image interpretation.43,44

[…] (see Experimental Details section).44,45

The synthesis procedures used for the particles described in this paper are derived from previous reports56–58,68 and have been discussed in detail in previous reports from this group.43–45,70

You have to go to the end of the paper to find in small type where the figures first appeared: Ref. 43. is Nat. Mater. 3, 330 (2004); Ref. 44. is J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128, 11135 (2006); Ref. 45. is J. Phys. Chem. C 112, 6279 (2008).

How cheeky. The figure legends do not indicate clearly where the data analyzed come from! Those smart-asses at EPFL made me work hard. I had to read the text, and then figure out that those small numbers meant that relevant data had been published before, go to the end of the paper, look for the numbers in a long list, go search for the papers referenced, and compare the data. Only to find out that the data is the same! RE-USED!

F**k man, what sort of trick is this? If you re-use a figure, write in the figure caption ‘Data self-plagiarized from previous work published in glamour journal X’.

But no, they deliberately hid the re-use of fake data. This shall not be allowed. Hey, they can’t publish the same fake data more than once and get away with it!

No doubt the paper should be retracted. I’ve gotta talk to my mate Dave Fernig; he knows how to set those journals straight.