Plagiarism happens; we see it a lot. But some cases stand out from the crowd.
For instance, we just came across an example where authors plagiarized from a paper in the same journal. Specifically, a 2015 paper on satellite orbits was found to have “extensive overlap” with another paper published in Acta Astronautica four years earlier. The last authors of the papers have connections, too — they used to work together at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in India, and in 2006, they co-authored a paper together.
M. Xavier James Raj is author on the retracted paper. He was a PhD student under R.K. Sharma, author of the paper he borrowed from. Sharma currently works at Karunya University in India.
This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief due to extensive overlap with a paper that had already appeared in Acta Astronautica in vol. 68, pp. 1865–1871 in 2011. (“Decay of high eccentricity satellite orbits with air drag using uniformly regular KS canonical elements” C.S. Anitha and R.K. Sharma http://doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2011.01.003).
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 article has not been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Sharma told us that he noticed the plagiarism last spring:
When I saw the paper by my old colleague and Ph.D student M. Xavier James Raj and P.S.Rajendran in April 2015, I was shocked to see that they have copied the theory fully from the paper authored by my student Ms C.S. Anitha and myself and they wrote a new paper.
I brought it to the notice of Editor-in-Chief of the journal Acta Astronautica with full proof of copying. He was convinced that it was case of plagiarism with my proof and he took decision to retract the paper in May end 2015. Retraction of a paper seems to be longer process. It could be only done in December 2015.
Raj — who we couldn’t find a website for — told us he does not agree with the retraction:
[T]he work reported in the paper is the original work carried out by us (myself and P.S.Rajendren). It is not the copy of anybody’s work and there is no need to copy others work.
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