Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Gravity paper yanked for plagiarism by another name

without comments

jtapcoverThe Journal of Theoretical and Applied Physics has retracted a 2012 paper by a pair of Iranian cosmologists who failed to adequately cite one of the critical references on which they based their work.

We think that falls under the broader category of plagiarism — after all, as Heisenberg famously postulated, the same text cannot simultaneously appear in two published articles under different authorship. Or something like that.

The paper in question, “Torsion of space-time in f (R) gravity,” deals with, as this Wikipedia entry states:

a type of modified gravity theory which generalizes Einstein’s General Relativity. f(R) gravity is actually a family of theories, each one defined by a different function of the Ricci scalar. The simplest case is just the function being equal to the scalar; this is General Relativity. As a consequence of introducing an arbitrary function, there may be freedom to explain the accelerated expansion and structure formation of the Universe without adding unknown forms of dark energy or dark matter.

Both authors, Majid Mohsenzadeh and Ebrahim Yusofi, are affiliated with Islamic Azad University, in Qom, which happens to be where the journal and two of its top staff are based.

According to the retraction notice:

This article[1] is retracted by the Editor as it fails to cite a key source paper: Sotiriou T, Faraoni V: f(R) theories of gravity. Rev. Mod. Phys. 82, 451–497 (2010). doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.82.451

This is a violation of publication ethics which, according to the Springer Policy on Publishing Integrity, warrants a retraction of the article and a notice to this effect to be published in the journal.

However, the Sotiriou/Faraoni paper does appear in the list of references for the retracted article. The problem is that the Iranian authors plucked virtually verbatim text from the other source and passed it off as their own.

From the retracted article:

But if we decided to be faithful to the geometrical interpretation of the independent connection Γλμν, then this would imply that we would define the covariant derivatives of the matter fields with this connection and, therefore, we would have SM=SM(gμν,Γλμν,ψ),  where ψ collectively denotes the matter fields.

And from the plagiarized paper:

but for the moment let us consider what would be the outcome if we decided to be faithful to the geometrical interpretation of the independent connection Γλμν: this would imply that we would define the covariant derivatives of the matter fields with this connection and, therefore, we would have SM=SM(gμν,Γλμ,ψ).

Comments
  • Rens July 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

    It’s kind of hard to see from the cited bits – are they reformulating the argument from the plagiarized paper, or are they really saying they developed these ideas? This type of reformulation is fairly common in computer science articles (although ‘we’ would usually be replaced by ‘the authors’), especially in surveys.

  • forgottenman2013 July 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Reblogged this on The Firewall.

  • stephenstrausss July 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    One the persistent verities in the Retraction Watch lexicon is that what is being retracted is often not very important in the scientific scheme of things. It matters in terms of the authors inflating their place in an academic universe, but besides that when the paper is retracted…well..poof. I wonder therefore whether it makes sense to give the retractions some of star grading a la what they do for movie or restaurant reviews. That is to say: This is a four star retractions; this is a one star one, etc.

  • CR July 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Not fair. At all.
    The paper was actually retracted for double publication, possibly plagiarism. And the publisher claimed it was so for lacking a reference, which in the end was there. Looks like glossing over to me.

  • Olaf July 18, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Sorry, but it seems for me that the blog authors fail to explain or understand the reason for the retraction. The main result seems to be copied. Not the four cited lines are the problem. Just compare two papers.

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