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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Fresh water paper proves recycled, gets retracted

with 3 comments

rsercover313A Saudi engineer has lost his 2012 paper in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews for plagiarizing from two previously published articles, including one in the same journal.

The article, titled “Fresh water production from/by atmospheric air for arid regions, using solar energy: Review,” was written by A.M.K. El-Ghonemy, of Al-Jouf University.

According to the retraction notice:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

The author has plagiarized part of a paper that had already appeared in Water Res., 35 (2001) 1–22, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0043-1354(00)00247-5 and Renew Sustain. Energy Rev., 14 (2010) 1187–1201, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2009.11.014. One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that their work is original and has not appeared in a publication elsewhere. Re-use of any data should be appropriately cited. As such this article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system. 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 Water Research paper was published in 2001 by Roland Wahlgren, of a Vancouver, B.C., outfit called Atmoswater Research. According to the abstract (just because it sounds interesting):

Atmospheric water vapour processing (AWVP) technology is reviewed. These processors are machines which extract water molecules from the atmosphere, ultimately causing a phase change from vapour to liquid. Three classes of machines have been proposed. The machines either cool a surface below the dewpoint of the ambient air, concentrate water vapour through use of solid or liquid desiccants, or induce and control convection in a tower structure. Patented devices vary in scale and potable water output from small units suitable for one person’s daily needs to structures as large as multi-story office buildings capable of supplying drinking water to an urban neighbourhood.

Evidently, El-Gohmeny thought so, too, because that’s pretty much how he described the technology:

In this paper, atmospheric water vapor processing (AWVP) technology is reviewed. These processors are machines which extract water molecules from the atmosphere, ultimately causing a phase change from vapor to liquid. Three classes of machines have been proposed. These classes are either cool a surface below the dew point of the ambient air, concentrate water vapor through use of solid or liquid desiccants, or induce and control convection in a tower structure.

Incidentally, Wahlgren’s article appears to have suffered a few spills. It picked up two corrections after publication, in May and July 2001, covering things like a misstatement of the Stefan-Boltzmann constant:

Page 11, second column, lines 5-6, the Stefan-Boltzmann constant should have been as follows: (5.67×10−8 W m−2 K−4).

to a misspelling of the word “expensive.”

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Written by Adam Marcus

March 1, 2013 at 10:21 am

3 Responses

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  1. “These classes are either cool a surface below the dew point of the ambient air, concentrate water vapor through use of solid or liquid desiccants, or induce and control convection in a tower structure.” – the attempt to mask the plagiarism by slightly modifying the original sentence did not work too well. Besides, these papers describe dehumidifiers re-branded as water-makers.

    chirality

    March 1, 2013 at 10:53 am

    • Chirality commented my topic was “…dehumidifiers re-branded as water-makers”. I believe this is a misunderstanding of the process of innovation. Even now, many people in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry consider condensate from dehumidifiers and air-conditioners to be a waste product and channel it to the nearest drain. An innovation is to turn the waste into a product. The terms atmospheric water vapour processing, atmospheric water generators (AWGs), and water-from-air machine are used to describe systems which use dehumidification technology to condense liquid water from ambient moist air and proceed to use various water treatment methods (integrated with the dehumidifier) to produce drinking water meeting internationally recognized drinking water guidelines. Properly designed AWGs electronically sense ambient conditions, use variable speed fans, and variable cooled surface temperatures to maximize the water production rate per unit time and to minimize energy cost per unit volume of product water. These design goals are often relaxed somewhat (for reasons of economy) for household, commercial, and industrial dehumidifiers.

      (Aside: commenting anonymously behind a ‘handle’ does not seem right in an scientific forum such as Retraction Watch; Could the editors please encourage use of real names?).

  2. As the victim of the plagiarism discussed in this post, I wish to thank Retraction Watch for the valuable service it provides to the scientific community. There appears to be no other mechanism to alert authors they have been plagiarized. The publisher did not notify me.

    Adam Marcus wrote my article “suffered a few spills”. After checking my original correspondence with Elsevier Science Ltd., I wish to clarify:

    – the ‘misstatement’ of the Stefan-Boltzmann constant was simply the publisher omitting the multiplication sign in the powers of ten format; I had stated the constant correctly in my final draft and in a note on the proof of the article.

    – the word “expensive” was misplaced, not misspelled, in a table (during final production by the publisher); My final draft was correct as was the proof of the article!


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