The editor of a special issue of a math journal — and author of many of the papers in it — has officially retracted the entire thing, after promising to withdraw it last year following issues with the review process.
According to the note in Mathematics and Mechanics of Solids, the peer-review process was “less rigorous than the journal requires.” Indeed, that process was coordinated by guest editor David Y. Gao, a mathematician at the Federation University Australia, who was also author on 11 of the 13 papers present in the issue.
Gao told us in November that he was withdrawing the issue because he thought it would be better suited as a book.
Here is the official retraction note, which focuses on the conflict of interest:
In 2015 SAGE were made aware of concerns regarding the Special Issue of Mathematics & Mechanics of Solids on Advances in Canonical Duality Theory, guest-edited by Professor David Gao.
At the request of the Guest Editor, the Special Issue has been retracted, due to conflict of interest regarding Professor Gao’s role as Guest Editor and co-author on a number of submitted papers. In addition the peer review process was less rigorous than the journal requires. The Guest Editor takes full responsibility for the retraction.
In November, Gao provided an additional point to that explanation:
Due to the fact that this special issue is on a unified theory with applications in multidisciplinary fields, and 2/3 of papers are on global optimization and algorithms, which are not within the scope of MMS, my co-editors and I think it will be much better to have a book published in a multidisciplinary book series by a leading publisher.
He also told us in November that the MMS made a mistake in asking him to guest edit the issue in the first place, since he and his colleagues developed the topic of the issue, canonical duality theory. He told us:
By the fact that this special issue is on my own theory, it is not appropriate at the beginning for the publisher and EIC to ask me as a guest editor for this special issue.
He added that he believed those questioning the special issue had a “political motivation:”
[M]y recent papers have revealed some basic mistakes in two highly cited papers in 70’s, which will affect to many well-known people’s related work in solid mechanics during the past 35 years, include some members on the editorial board of MMS.
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