Home / Science / Authors retract soil paper so “the error we made does not propagate” – Retraction Watch

Authors retract soil paper so “the error we made does not propagate” – Retraction Watch

Authors retract soil paper so “the error we made does not propagate” – Retraction Watch

through Wikimedia

The authors of a 2018 paper on how a lot carbon soil can retailer have retracted the work after concluding that their evaluation was fatally flawed. 

The article, “Soil carbon stocks are underestimated in mountainous regions,” appeared within the journal Geoderma. Its authors are affiliated with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research.

According to the summary of the paper

Current estimates of soil natural carbon (SOC) shares are calculated by multiplying the SOC density occasions the planimetric space of a person cell. In the truth, the land floor is not at all times in horizontal planes, however typically in tilted planes, particularly in mountainous areas. The variations between a horizontal aircraft and a tilted aircraft are managed by slope, so we investigated the impact of inclination on the SOC shares calculation utilizing HWSD dataset in mountainous areas together with the Alps, the Andes, the Plateau of Tibet and the Rocky Mountains. Our outcomes confirmed that inclination impact strongly influenced SOC shares calculation in mountainous areas and former SOC shares estimates have been underestimated. SOC shares elevated between four.04% and 15.00% when 90 m decision elevation knowledge was used for accounting the inclination impact, which was a lot larger than that of utilizing 1 km decision elevation (zero.90% to five.00%). Therefore, we recommend that it’s essential to contemplate the inclination impact within the calculation of SOC shares in mountainous areas.  

However, the authors, led by Dominque Arrouays, realized that their evaluation is perhaps on shaky floor. As the retraction discover states

In this paper, we concluded that the Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) shares have been underestimated in mountainous areas, primarily as a result of slope impact.

We suppose that our conclusions are biased and that this paper must be retracted. Actually, the speculation that SOC shares estimates are delicate to slope impact is unsuitable. It makes implicitly the speculation that soil is a type of mantle characterised by a given thickness and that what we measure is that this thickness perpendicular to the soil floor.

In follow, the observations contained within the databases ought to have been made vertically, subsequently the slope does not change the amount in any respect. As proven in Fig. 1, if we take into account a sq. pixel of N m2, (with N = size × width), the “Voxel” all the way down to h cm is at all times N × h m3 (with h = top) regardless of how the form of the floor is (the one uncommon exception is overhanging areas).

Consequently, the conclusions of our paper are unsuitable. The international shares beneath mountainous areas are not underestimated, and the estimates of SOC shares realised utilizing the HWSD (Hiederer and Köchy, 2012) are not biased as a consequence of a slope impact. We totally apologize for this false impression.

We retract this paper, so that it’s not used additional by others to erroneously appropriate the SOC inventory calculations, and that the error we made does not propagate into different research.

More typically, this error additionally raises questions concerning the definitions of soil depth and soil or horizon thickness. Indeed, soil horizons are sometimes parallel to the soil floor and one could take into account that the thickness must be measured in a strictly vertical approach, or perpendicularly to the soil floor.

Jan Willem van Groenigen

‘[U]nfortunate that it was overlooked’

Jan Willem van Groenigen, chair of the editors in chief of Geoderma, advised us that he obtained an e-mail from a reader concerning the now-retracted paper in late January 2019 — practically a 12 months after the article appeared on-line: 

After collegial dialogue between the authors and the reader, the authors acknowledged the flaw of their method and requested for a retraction – the dealing with Editor-in-Chief and I made a decision to honour this request and publish the retraction notice. 

Given the elemental flaw with the paper, we puzzled if it might need been picked up throughout peer assessment. Van Groenigen acknowledged so: 

Yes, after all – that is the kind of error that ideally will get detected on the assessment stage and it was unlucky that it was neglected. As far as I do know, Geoderma by no means needed to retract an article earlier than and I’d very a lot have most well-liked to maintain it that approach. But trustworthy errors are typically being made and we felt that the one solution to appropriate this was with a retraction.

Van Groenigen requested that Elsevier, the journal’s writer, retract the paper in May 2019. He stated the paper was retracted on ScienceDirect, Elsevier’s on-line platform, on June 10. The retraction discover — linked to the unique article — did not seem till January 20 of this 12 months.

Van Groenigen advised us:

According to the Elsevier employees this discover is basically supposed for the print model of the journal (though few individuals learn in print anymore after all) and subsequently is topic to the schedules of printed points.

Readers of this weblog could recall that a number of years in the past, Geoderma confronted an alleged citation-rigging scheme by one among its editorial board members. 

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