Towards the end of the stripy controversy?

Last week saw the publication in PloS One of Quy Khac Ong and Francesco Stellacci’s response to Stirling et al “Critical Assessment of the Evidence for Striped Nanoparticles” published a year earlier (November 2014, I am one of the co-authors).

The controversy had started with our publication of Stripy Nanoparticles Revisited after a three year editorial process (2009-2012) and was followed by a large number of events at this blog, on PubPeer and a few other places.

Here is a short statement in response to Ong and Stellacci. Since theirs  was a response to Stirling et al, Julian Stirling was invited to referee their submission (report).

We are pleased that Ong and Stellacci have responded to our paper, Critical assessment of the evidence for striped nanoparticles, PLoS ONE 9 e108482 (2014). Each of their rebuttals of our critique has, however, already been addressed quite some time ago either in our original paper, in the extensive PubPeer threads associated with that paper (and its preprint arXiv version), and/or in a variety of blog posts. Indeed, arguably the strongest evidence against the claim that highly ordered stripes form in the ligand shell of suitably-functionalised nanoparticles comes from Stellacci and co-authors’ own recent work, published shortly after we submitted our PLOS ONE critique. This short and simple document compares the images acquired from ostensibly striped nanoparticles with control particles where, for the latter (and as claimed throughout the work of Stellacci et al.), stripes should not be present. We leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions. At this point, we believe that little is to be gained from continuing our debate with Stellacci et al. We remain firmly of the opinion that the experimental data to date show no evidence for formation of the “highly ordered” striped morphology that has been claimed throughout the work of Stellacci and co-workers, and, for the reasons we have detailed at considerable length previously, do not find the counter-claims in Ong and Stellacci in any way compelling. We have therefore clearly reached an impasse. It is thus now up to the nanoscience community to come to its own judgement regarding the viability of the striped nanoparticle hypothesis. As such, we would very much welcome STM studies from independent groups not associated with any of the research teams involved in the controversy to date. For completeness, we append below the referee reports which JS submitted on Ong and Stellacci’s manuscript.

Julian Stirling, Raphaël Lévy, and Philip Moriarty November 16 2015

 

 

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4 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Symptoms Of The Universe and commented:
    Raphaël Lévy neatly sums up what I very much hope will be our final words on the stripy nanoparticle furore. As we say in our response to Ong and Stellacci’s recent Formal Comment in PLOS ONE (a response to our PLOS ONE paper, published last year):

    “We remain firmly of the opinion that the experimental data to date show no evidence for formation of the “highly ordered” striped morphology that has been claimed throughout the work of Stellacci and co-workers, and, for the reasons we have detailed at considerable length previously, do not find the counter-claims in Ong and Stellacci in any way compelling. We have therefore clearly reached an impasse. It is thus now up to the nanoscience community to come to its own judgement regarding the viability of the striped nanoparticle hypothesis.”

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  2. I predict that this controversy will never die, it will just fade away.

    In 10 years time no-one will be researching stripey nanoparticles but no one will have admitted they were wrong about them.

    In 25 years they will have been forgotten, but still not disavowed.

    And in 50 years time, someone will discover genuine stripes on nanoparticles (or some futuristic equivalent, nanomachines maybe) and will start their paper thus:

    “The idea of highly ordered ligand binding to nanoparticles has a long history. Stellaci et al. in the early 21st century reported this phenomenon but there was controversy over its validity…”

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  3. I did a very cursory look at FS’s publications. Seems like he has very few recent publications that use the keyword stripy nanoparticle. I wonder if he has a hard time getting papers through peer review that take the stripy narrative as proved. He no longer seems interested in documenting and exploring all the wonderful chemical, physical, and biological properties of the stripies.

    I suspect peer reviewers have seen enough that they won’t buy off on papers that just treat the existence as established fact and go on to examine properties. So, even though you never really got satisfaction, I think the good reviewers and good journals are no longer willing to go further down the stripy hole. That was something accomplished.

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