Math paper retracted because it “contains no scientific content”
According to a retraction notice for “Computer application in mathematics,” published in Computers & Mathematics with Applications:
This article has been retracted at the request of the Publisher, as the article contains no scientific content and was accepted because of an administrative error. Apologies are offered to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process.
The entire abstract of the paper, which was submitted on April 15, 2009, accepted on July 20, 2009 and published in the January 2010 issue of the journal, reads:
In this study, a computer application was used to solve a mathematical problem.
Its conclusion is similarly opaque, but has the added bonus of being nonsensical:
Computer magnification is a Universal computer phenomenon. This technique is applied in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine, architecture, particle physics, genetics, microbiology and in chemistry. Without magnification, deep studies and research are impossible. For the first time in the history of mathematics, the authors applied magnification technology and obtained a solution for a nearly 4300 year old parallel postulate problem. In brief an impossible proposition was proved as possible. This is a problematic problem. Further studies will give birth to a new branch of mathematical science.
Look, this “a problematic problem,” OK? One that is likely to be solved, perhaps, by a co-author, S. Kalimuthu, whose email address is “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
How on Earth does this stuff get past editors, peer reviewers, and publication staffs? And how did it remain in print for two years?
We think we may have a clue. Until the end of last year, Computers & Mathematics with Applications, an Elsevier title, was edited by Ervin Rodin. (The journal’s new editor is Leszek Demkowicz.) Rodin was also editor of Elsevier’s Applied Mathematics Letters, which retracted two bizarre papers last year, one of which was written by one of the co-authors of this latest retracted paper, and the other of which cost the publisher $10,000 when the author — an intelligent design advocate — sued. Rodin has also been replaced at Applied Mathematics Letters, by Alan Tucker.
And he was editor of Mathematical and Computer Modelling, which now says this at its website:
Due to an editorial restructuring, Mathematical and Computer Modelling is not accepting any new papers at the moment.
Elsevier declined to comment on Rodin’s departure from the journals.
Update, 3 p.m. Eastern, 4/24/12: Computers & Mathematics with Applications editor Leszek Demkowicz tells us he doesn’t remember the particulars of this paper, but that:
Upon taking over the journal, we inhereted a lot of past contributions that had not been checked carefully for plagiarism.
We have now a new system in place within which each submission is carefully checked using Elsevier provided software against practically everything: our own journal, other Elsevier journals, other journals and even web pages…
I hope cases like this will not occur in the future….
Hat tip: Marco van de Weert