Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

“Failure probability” turns out to be quite high as engineers double-submit paper, then see it retracted

with 8 comments

A couple of engineers in Iran turn out to be better at predicting the “failure probability” of water pipes than of their chances of being published.

Consider this retraction notice for “Estimation of failure probability in water pipes network using statistical model,” originally published in February 2011 in Engineering Failure Analysis:

This article has been retracted at the request of the editor as it is a duplicate of a paper that has already been published in World Appl. Sci. J., 11 (2010) 1157–1163, “Estimation of Failure Probability in Water Pipes Network Using Statistical Model”, M.J. Fadaee and R. Tabatabaei. The authors have stated that they decided to withdraw it from World Applied Sciences Journal after its acceptance and instead submit it to Engineering Failure Analysis. However, their article was still published in World Applied Sciences Journal despite their request to the contrary. One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly and confirm that the paper is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. The scientific community takes a very strong view on this matter and apologies are offered to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process.

The now-retracted paper has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the World Applied Sciences Journal version. [See update at end.]

We’ve tried to contact the authors for comment, and will update with anything we hear back.

We can see how they would have wanted to publish in Engineering Failure Analysis — which ranks in about the 40th percentile of impact factors in its two Thomson Scientific categories, “mechanical engineering” and “materials science, characterization, and testing”  — instead of in the World Applied Sciences Journal, which isn’t ranked by Thomson Scientific at all. But it’s generally a good idea to make sure you aren’t actually publishing in your second choice before you go to your first choice.

You might call this a failure.

Update, 4:30 p.m. Eastern, 2/21/12: The World Applied Sciences Journal site has been suspended. We’re trying to figure out why, and will update with anything we find out.

Update, 4:45 p.m. Eastern, 2/24/12: The journal’s site appears to be back online.

Hat tip: Clare Francis

Written by Ivan Oransky

February 21st, 2012 at 9:30 am

  • Pymoladdict February 21, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Too many crappy scientists – well, engineers too, too many crappy journals. Shouldn’t this journal be called Enginnering Analysis Failure instead?

  • Angela February 21, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Grr. I work for an engineering society and this happens all the time, particularly with papers from the middle east. They submit to more than one journal. Last week, one said, “Once you confirm that you will put my paper forward to peer-review, we will withdraw it from X journal.” Not the way this works.

  • puzzled monkey (Conrad T Seitz MD) February 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    The hyperlink to the article in World Applied Sciences Journal doesn’t work, except in a cached version.
    Even the web site isn’t available…the cached version shows that apparently it’s published by IDOSI (International Digital Organization Scientific Information) and the contact for this journal is in Babol, Iran. That may be why the link doesn’t work?
    I’m puzzled as to where this journal is published and what’s in it. There is also a “Journal of Applied Sciences” published out of Pakistan, but it doesn’t appear to the be the same one. Any further info on this general subject?

    • ivanoransky February 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Interesting — we’ve updated the post, and are looking into this. Thanks.

      • Anonymous February 21, 2012 at 10:48 pm

        Maybe it’s the Slashdot effect []. 🙂

      • Ed Mooring February 22, 2012 at 2:52 am

        It looks like’s provider, has disabled their site, and their registrar has pulled their DNS record. This seems to have happened at 00:57GMT 201120221. The DNS servers still say that is at, but that IP address now points at a blank website template. Both provider and registrar are in Pakistan.

        The IDOSI website has been preserved on

        My best guess is that somebody didn’t pay their monthly bills.

    • Neuroskeptic February 22, 2012 at 9:20 am

      The “IDOSI” website lists (or used to) a large number of journals:

      Most of which are not indexed on PubMed etc. and which seem to have been started in 2006 or after.

  • Neuroskeptic February 22, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Heh, oh dear. But don’t judge them too harshly… there must be lots of people who do this successfully and never get caught.

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