My loyal readers will perhaps remember the saga of the Pflamm-Altenburg et al. (2013) paper which I blogged about a while ago under the title, “Bordering on scientific misconduct …“. The quick summary is that I noticed their paper in MNRAS contained some poor logic, some overly pejorative language used to unfairly criticise the past work of other researchers, and in some parts they had appeared to have blatantly “cherry picked” from the data to support their exaggeratedly bold hypothesis. So I wrote at the time to the editor of MNRAS suggesting he investigate my claims, but he replied that he did not feel like doing so and if I still thought there was something wrong with the PA et al. analysis then all I could do would be to write a paper explaining my ideas and send it along to MNRAS for peer review (presumably via PA et al themselves!). But, since I didn’t have the time for such a level of pedantry I laid the issue to rest by venting on my blog.
However, there’s been an interesting little development. A tiny bird has whispered in my ear that in fact when PA et al claim to use the data on M33 star clusters from Sharma et al. (2011) what they mean is that they extracted the data from Sharma et al.’s figures since Sharma et al. would not certify their data as accurate enough for the proposed work, owing in part to the suspected presence of spurious sources needing to be removed from the sample (depending on follow up observations). It might even be the case that one of the star clusters copied from these figures and used in the PA et al. paper was not even from M33 at all. Ouch!