Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Weekend reads: One researcher resents “cyberbullying” while another wishes peer reviewers would spank him

with 17 comments

booksAnother busy week at Retraction Watch. Here’s what was going on around the web in scientific publishing and related issues:

Written by Ivan Oransky

February 1st, 2014 at 9:40 am

  • nskeptic February 1, 2014 at 10:25 am

    RW readers may also be interested to hear about this: Benjamin Hayempour, whose two retracted papers have both been featured on RW and who threatened to sue RW, has now issued a DMCA takedown notice against a blogger (and RW reader) ‘Andrew Oh Willeke’ and forced the deletion of a post critical of Hayempour:

    Read about the legal chill here:

    • nskeptic February 1, 2014 at 11:02 am

      CORRECTION: I stated that “Benjamin Hayempour… has now issued a DMCA takedown notice”. In fact it is not known who is responsible for the notice, but Andrew Oh Willeke writes that it was “no doubt filed by Hayempour or someone acting on his behalf.”

      • Sylvain Bernès February 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

        I’m afraid that Benjamin Hayempour is walking on shifting sands.

        • QAQ February 1, 2014 at 11:17 am

          Has anyone notified the NIH or the authors of the plagiarised articles yet? It would be interesting to see what would happen if the original authors were to file DMCA takedown notices of his “papers” on PubMed. Also, the NIH should probably be made aware…

          • QAQ February 1, 2014 at 11:36 am

            For futher enjoyment/consumption, some videos of expert BJH lecturing on various topics…

            The answer to the question: “What is a brain tumor” is enjoyable.

          • Kenrod February 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

            Note that that video now gives the “Expert” as Ayden Jacob, his new name. But the interviewer introduces him as Benjamin Jacob Hayempour.

        • boog February 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm

          There’s an even more interesting angle to this. If the DMCA takedown was emitted in the knowledge that it was false, that is an offence. The blogger can probably sue whoever sent the takedown notice, since a proper takedown notice must target a copyright infringement (yet nothing was copied) and come from the copyright holder (or agent). Who owns the copyright in plagiarised work? The original journal in most cases. Probably not the plagiarising author… And that’s before one considers fair use.

          • liz February 3, 2014 at 9:53 am

            That is very interesting boog! I wonder if Andrew Oh Willeke is aware of that. He certainly should be. That would be a great twist. Is nskeptic in touch with him?

          • ohwilleke February 3, 2014 at 1:43 pm

            I am aware of that fact, although the practicalities of pursuing that possibility are unclear at this time. I will probably wait a couple of weeks and see if the DMCA complainant files a lawsuit or allows the post to be reinstated before I take any other action.

  • Sylvain Bernès February 1, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Regarding the shortest science papers, I note the two-words editorial recently published in “Evolutionary Anthropology” is behind a paywall… Fortunately, there is a 100% overlap between keywords and that editorial.
    The no-word paper (available free of charge!) is brilliant, because it makes sense and has an actual scientific content.

  • Jennifer February 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    #nature genetics #nongwas
    PLoS one is “seriously considering” to publish a scientific relevant paper
    (However the authors must still pay for it)

    • JATdS February 1, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Perhaps a little pre-emptive, but what will it cost to use “Pre-Score”? I am cautious (and so should you) about these new models and metrics that lack transparency from the word go: “We are preparing to announce partnerships with several organizations within the scholarly publishing industry.” And “The preSCORE Advisory Panel is comprised of diverse individuals with decades of experience in the scholarly publishing industry. An official announcement with bios of each Advisory Panel member will be posted shortly.” Speed is of the essence to gain trust. And if this is a paid service, who is benefitting? Iremain suspicious as there are few truly altruistic services nowadays.

  • Rafał February 5, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Re: shortest science papers:
    Shortest paper on the unsuccessful treatment of writer’s block is an exhilarating lecture, and, I imagine, one of the early cases of open review! (Referee’s comments were published in the footnote.)

    It is worth adding that the findings of this study were successfully (oh, irony!) replicated in a multi-site cross-cultural study published only recently (

    • RJNV February 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      Isn’t this a case of plagiarism?

      • Sylvain Bernès February 5, 2014 at 9:14 pm

        Yes, but the important point is that the consequences of this plagiarism are huge: once you consider that the Upper’s paper (1974) may be plagiarized, then you must admit that any published article plagiarizes the Upper’s article, including all articles not yet published.

        This is similar to the fundamental property of the empty set (the set for which cardinality is zero) in axiomatic set theory: because two sets are equal if they have the same element(s), there can be only one set having no elements. The empty set is thus unique, and is a subset of all sets of any kind and of any cardinality. For more accurate details, see:

        Now, the union of a set A with the empty set is A. In other words, the next article you will publish contains the Upper’s article… Do you want to retract the full post-1974 scientific literature, which massively plagiarized the Upper’s article without proper citation?

      • Rafał February 6, 2014 at 6:15 am

        That’s a toughie. But taking into account that the original study is cited, and also that this clearly isn’t the case of unattributed use of text or data, I would venture a guess that the answer is no…

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