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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Journal retracts two chemistry papers for plagiarism

with 11 comments

commnonlinscinumsimCommunications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation has retracted a pair of articles by a group of chemists from Iran and the United States after finding evidence of plagiarism in the papers.

The researcher team included authors from Islamic Azad University, Ferdowski University of Mashhad and, perhaps somewhat incongruously, Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

The first paper, “An analytical approach to the stability of solitary solutions of cubic–quintic coupled non-linear Schrödinger equations,” appeared in 2009 and has been cited twice, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. (Question: is an article that will ultimately be retracted for plagiarism considered to exist in a state of un-retracted retractionness, such that by detecting the plagiarized text the article immediately ceases to be?):

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and the authors.

The authors have plagiarized part of a paper that had already appeared in the Iranian Journal of Physics Research 6(4) (2006) 245–251. 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 second paper, “An analytical approach to the solitonic solutions in the three-component plasma of the positive ion–electron–positron and investigating the effect of positron increase on the solitonic wave characteristics,” which also came out in 2009 and has been cited twice, has a similar notice:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and the author.

The authors have plagiarized part of a paper that had already appeared in the Iranian Journal of Physics Research 5(4) (2005) 225–234. 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.

This marks at least the third retraction in the journal for this group. In 2011, they lost “An analytical approach to the Klein–Gordon and the Dirac relativistic oscillators in a non-commutative space under a constant magnetic field”:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and Author. Please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy). Reason: The authors have plagiarized part of a paper that had already appeared in Iranian Journal of Physics Research. 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 we apologize to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process.

Robert Erik Sammelson was the author from Ball State. We have tried to reach him for comment and will update this post if we hear from him.

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11 Responses

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  1. Incidents of “ghost co-authorship” have occurred previously. How should academics proceed when they know that a foreign author is only honorary or has been invited to hop up on the wagon? Another puzzle in this ANARCHY!

    aceil

    September 24, 2013 at 1:49 pm

  2. The Robert Sammelson you link to is an organic chemist, so it’s hard to see what he could have to do with “cubic–quintic coupled non-linear Schrödinger equations” (whatever that is).

    F'x

    September 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    • Organic chemists often have an interest in determining certain basic properties of their molecules (like their conformation but also their spectral properties). Various methods are available to calculate these properties, and many involve solving Schrödinger equations. So, it is not that odd.

      Marco

      September 25, 2013 at 9:59 am

      • Yeah, it can happen… but there is a difference between getting involved in quantum chem calculations, and developing new methodology. In any case, Sammelson certainly doesn’t advertise his Qchem contributions on his website/publication list. So I stick by my assessment: it sounds fishy.

        F'x

        September 25, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        • I know a few folks that do TEM research for small molecule electronics. You usually need a physics theory group to do the quantum calculations, a physical chemist/experimental physics group to take the measurements with the electron microscope, and a synthetic group to actually make the molecules.

          I’d agree that a synthetic chemistry group doing theory sounds a bit….odd.

          Dr. Allison L. Stelling

          September 25, 2013 at 12:17 pm

  3. Taking advantage of the topic of this post, I would like to ask for the opinion of the RW community about the following papers:

    A) PMID: 23398928 (http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/11//36) vs PMID: 23636800 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13277-013-0817-9)

    Emphasis to the table I of both papers and the results associated with it. Take also a look to the IF image on the Tumor Biol paper (Fig 5a vs c).

    B) PMID: 23832541 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13277-013-0955-0) vs PMID: 22878614 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1245/s10434-012-2560-7) vs PMID: 23778524 (http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v109/n1/full/bjc2013273a.html).
    Emphasis to the tables.

    In all the cases the authors used the same original samples (cases of tumors) and identical/very similar results were presented, however, the difference among the papers is that different markers were studied by IHC. In A) no citation to the other paper is present. In B) there was a citation in one of the papers to another, but it failed to report that the same samples were studied in the same manner and that the first part of the results section is redundant.

    Another interesting thing is that these five papers were all published in 2013. I wonder if the redundant results were not detected by the editors because the related paper was not published yet. Submitting more than one paper containing redundant data to different journals at the same time could be considered an approach in order to not be caught by the editors? Smart idea!

    Dear Ivan, can these issues be considered for “ask to RW section”.

    Jennifer Lopes

    September 25, 2013 at 6:36 am

    • What is so wrong about this re-use of data? As someone alien to the field, it sounds to me like both cases did two different studies on the same data, which sounds fine to me.

      Though it doesn’t seem to be the case here, it could even be that the papers were submitted in parallel (which means they cannot cite each other, obviously).

      However, regarding A; it lists:
      Received: 24 January 2013
      Accepted: 30 January 2013
      Which seems particularly suspicious. Especially for a journal. Maybe it should be ‘Received: 24 January 2012’?

      Rens

      September 25, 2013 at 10:35 am

      • Dear Rens,
        what do you think is the reason for the authors not cite themselves in the case of papers in A) tumor biol vs j transl med?
        Why would anybody lose the opportunity to improve his H factor? For sure, it should exist a good reason…

        Jennifer Lopez

        September 25, 2013 at 11:49 am

  4. There is an interesting comment on the website of the plagiarized journal:

    http://ijpr.iut.ac.ir/index.php?slc_lang=en&sid=1

    I quote:
    “PLAGIARISM

    12/26/2012 With the help of Dr. Paul Abbott, University of Western Australia, we realized that Alireza Heidari et al. with a fake affiliation of “Institute for Advanced Studies, Tehran 14456-63543″ have published or submitted 40 articles in international journals. Most of these articles are translation from Iranian Journal of Physics Research articles.

    Most of the journals already have retracted the plagiarized articles from their website. We are grateful to Paul Abbott and the journals which acted quickly.”

    So, it looks like Ivan and Adam missed a few ;-)

    Marco

    September 25, 2013 at 10:09 am


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