Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Castle made of sand: Self-plagiarism washes away paper on dune particles

with 4 comments

sedgeolA group of geologists in China have lost their paper on the aerodynamics of sand particles because the article was mashed together from previous publications.

The article, “The influence of sand diameter and wind velocity on sand particle lift-off and incident angles in the windblown sand flux,” appeared in the May 2013 issue of Sedimentary Geology. It was written by a team from the Key Laboratory of Mechanics on Western Disaster and Environment at Lanzhou University.

Here’s the notice:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editors-in-Chief. This article also contains significant similarity with parts of text, written by the same author(s), that have appeared in

-Tian-Li Bo, Xiao-Jing Zheng, Shao-Zhen Duan, Yi-Rui Liang, The influence of wind velocity and sand grain diameter on the falling velocities of sand particles, Powder Technology, Volume 241, June 2013, Pages 158-165

-Tian-Li Bo, Xiao-Jing Zheng, Shao-Zhen Duan, Yi-Rui Liang, Analysis of sand particles’ lift-off and incident velocities in wind-blown sand flux, Acta Mechanica Sinica, April 2013, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 158-165

-Tian-Li Bo, Xiao-Jing Zheng, Shao-Zhen Duan, Yi-Rui Liang, Influence of sand grain diameter and wind velocity on lift-off velocities of sand particles, The European Physical Journal E, May 2013, 36:50

-Tian-Li Bo, Shao-Zhen Duan, Xiao-Jing Zheng, Yi-Rui Liang, The influence of sand bed temperature on lift-off and falling parameters in windblown sand flux, Geomorphology, Volume 204, 1 January 2014, Pages 477-484.

The “slicing” of research that would form one meaningful paper into several different papers represents an 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.

Some of the authors have made waves before. We also found this correction in PLoS ONE of a 2013 article by some of the same authors titled “Incident Angle of Saltating Particles in Wind-Blown Sand”:

Multiple funding organizations and grants were incorrectly omitted from the Funding Statement. The Funding Statement should read: “This research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Numbers 11072097, 11232006, 11202088, 10972164, 11121202), National Key Technology R&D Program (2013BAC07B01), the Science Foundation of Ministry of Education of China (Number 308022), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Numbers lzujbky-2009-k01, lzujbky-2012-203) and the Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (Number 2009CB421304). The authors express their sincere appreciation to the supports. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.”

We emailed Tian-Li Bo for comment and received a short email:

I’m sorry for this matter to bother you. I agree to retract the paper. We have no other articles need to be retracted.

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Comments
  • Question March 17, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    The notice on the RW story shows 4 self-plagiarised papers, but the sciencedirect page only lists three.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S003707381500041X
    This article has been retracted at the request of the Editors-in-Chief.This article also contains significant similarity with parts of text, written by the same author(s), that have appeared in

    Tian-Li Bo, Xiao-Jing Zheng, Shao-Zhen Duan, Yi-Rui Liang, The influence of wind velocity and sand grain diameter on the falling velocities of sand particles, Powder Technology, Volume 241, June 2013, Pages 158-165

    Tian-Li Bo, Xiao-Jing Zheng, Shao-Zhen Duan, Yi-Rui Liang, Analysis of sand particles’ lift-off and incident velocities in wind-blown sand flux, Acta Mechanica Sinica, April 2013, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 158-165

    Tian-Li Bo, Xiao-Jing Zheng, Shao-Zhen Duan, Yi-Rui Liang, Influence of sand grain diameter and wind velocity on lift-off velocities of sand particles, The European Physical Journal E, May 2013, 36:50

    The fourth reference is listed as a reference. Why are there apparently two different versions?

    • Marco March 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      I assume it is related to the publication date of the last paper, which was January 2014, 8 months after the now-retracted paper was published. Elsevier may be discussing what to do with that paper (Geomorphology is also an Elsevier journal).

  • Nicole March 24, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    One of these papers has been retracted by Geomorphology: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169555X13004315

  • Anonymous July 22, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I was referee of the paper in EPJE. If I had known of the nearly identical copies out there, I would not have recommended its acceptance, as I did. Since I work in China, I have been following this case together with my colleagues. Here are some interesting facts:

    1. 1. The first author, Tian-Li Bo, was nominated for the Excellent PhD prize (about 100 prizes per year in whole China) largely due to these papers, which is considered a huge success in China.
    2. The author Xiao-Jing Zheng is one of the most famous researchers in China. Apparently, she has not suffered any consequences from this. For me, this is unbelievable because she either must have known that the papers are identical to each other just from reading the titles, in which case one must conclude that she has no problem with self-plagiarism whatsoever, or she never even has read the titles of the papers, in which case one must ask why she appears as one of the leading authors.

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