No, math prof, Google isn’t a proper literature search (and don’t plagiarize your dead mentor)
Take this one from Semigroup Forum, signed by Chong-yih Wu of National Pingtung Institute of Commerce, Pingtung, Taiwan:
I withdraw my paper “On right congruences of semigroups having no proper essential congruences” which appeared in Semigroup Forum 85 (2012), 369–380.
This paper is a somewhat expanded version of a rough note by my late supervisor Robert H. Oehmke. He sent over that manuscript to me in 1999, suggesting that I join in by completing the results and then we would publish a paper jointly. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I could not complete the paper until much later, in 2009. Unfortunately, Professor Oehmke had passed away in 2003 before I had an opportunity to show him my completed research. After searching for relative keywords in Google and finding nothing of any significant relevance, I submitted the expanded paper to Semigroup Forum in 2009.
I was shocked to learn now that Professor Oehmke himself had published the results from his rough notes in a paper entitled “On the distributivity of the lattice of right congruences of a semigroup”, Hadronic Journal 27 (2004), 458–472, submitted in 2003. Till now, I was unaware of this paper and of his decision, taken years after writing to me, to publish his own results based on the rough notes alone.
Clearly, a very large part of my paper coincides practically with large parts of Oehmke’s paper. Had I known about Oehmke’s paper, I would not have submitted mine, and therefore I withdraw my paper. I understand that I should have included a proper acknowledgement of the contribution from Robert H. Oehmke to my paper, giving him due credit for a large part of the results. I apologize that I did not do so. In addition, the main theorem in my paper contains errors that are not present in Professor Oehmke’s original notes, for which mistake I also apologize.
So, to sum up:
- Six years after a researcher dies, one of his trainees decides to publish himself a manuscript his supervisor sent him to co-author, without “proper acknowledgement of the contribution” from his deceased supervisor (in this case, that actually means no acknowledgement at all)
- Former trainee manages to introduce errors into the paper
- Said former trainee Googles his supervisor’s name and some “relative keywords,” whatever that means. Finding nothing, the former trainee proceeds with submission without doing a proper literature search that would have revealed a five-year old paper
- Peer review, revisions, and production take nearly three years
- Former trainee somehow finds out about his supervisor’s paper, and is “shocked”
The paper has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. We asked Wu how the 2004 paper came to his attention, and he forwarded us an April 2013 message from Norman Reilly, an emeritus professor at Simon Fraser University:
The attention of the Semigroup Forum Council has been drawn to the fact that your paper
Chong-Yih Wu, “On right congruences of semigroups having no proper essential right congruences”, Semigroup Forum (2012) 85, 369-380,
is essentially the same as the paper
R.H.Oehmke, “On the distributivity of the lattice of right congruences of a semigroup”, Hadronic Journal (2004) 27, 458-472,
and, indeed, your paper repeats large sections of Oehmke’s paper word for word.
Copies of both papers are attached. Do you have any comment?
Here’s the version of events Wu sent us, which is slightly different from that in the retraction notice:
I had done Google and literature search before publishing, but did not find Professor Oehmke’s paper.
Since maybe there were mistakes in the paper, I should have Professor Oehmke’s admission before I published the paper. However Professor Oehmke passed away in 2003, I could not have his admission.
When things happened I agreed add acknowledge in this paper; however the Journal seems don’t ask me to do this. I think the reason is that the mentioned mistakes in this paper could harm the Professor Oehmke’s respect. This is why I did not acknowledge Professor Oehmke in this paper.
“No proper essential congruences” indeed.