Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Author dispute, “considerable overlap” retract chemistry study

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Spectrochimica Acta Part A- Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy

A chemistry journal has issued a retraction after “a thorough and time-consuming analysis” revealed two out of four authors did not agree to submitting an article published in May, which also contains “considerable overlap and redundancy” with another paper published a few weeks prior in a different journal.

Shortly after the paper appeared in Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, the journal was told “that parts of the manuscript were reused” from an article in the Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers that was published online March 16. That led to the investigation, and the discovery of the additional authorship issues.

Here’s the full notice:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy). The journal Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy retracts the article “Neoteric FT-IR investigation on the functional groups of phosphonium-based deep eutectic solvents” by Aissaoui Tayeb et al., which was published in 2015. This retraction comes after a thorough and time-consuming analysis of the published article, the data it reports and author relationships. The editors deferred making any public statements regarding this article until this investigation was complete, and the authors were notified of the findings.

Very shortly after the publications of the article the journal received communications indicating that parts of the manuscript were reused from another publication (“Triethylene glycol based deep eutectic solvents and their physical properties” by Hayyan et al. published in the Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2015, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtice.2015.03.001) and that two out of four authors were not informed nor did they agree with the submission to Spectrochimica Acta Part A.

Due to the nature of the concerns raised about this paper, the editors examined the manuscripts and reviewed the responses from the authors. The editors wish to acknowledge the co-operation of all involved parties in this matter, and commend them for their commitment to the scientific process.

Ultimately, the editors found considerable overlap and redundancy between the article published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A and the article published in the Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers. Together with the disagreement of Mohd Ali Hashim and Maan Hayyan with the publication of this article, the editors came to the conclusion to retract the article.

Mohd Ali Hashim, Maan Hayyan and Tayeb Aissaoui are also listed as authors on the JTICE paper.

In a statement Tayeb Aissaoui sent to the journal (which he forwarded to us), he said the research is all based on his work, and described some personal problems with his former professor and co-author, Maan Hayyan, which forced him to withdraw from his program at the University of Malaya

Please note that I was an MSc student at UM. Dr. Maan and Prof. Ali were my advisors. I spent two years at UM but unfortunately, and because of personal issues with Dr. Maan, I have withdrawn from The M.Sc. program. As part of my MSc thesis at UM, I conducted experimental work on the preparation, characterization, and application of DESs in the dehydration of natural gas. All material included in the two articles was based on my work during my stay at UM as a student.

Aissaoui admitted to the overlap in the papers and that he submitted the paper alone:

I agree that there is similarity between our two articles but this is because we used the results of two FTIR runs for the same DES. In addition, we used the disputed graph for the sake of comparison only. I really did not know that I had to refer to our article in TICE. This was my first experience in submitting a manuscript to a journal and I had to do this alone because of the withdrawal from MSc at UM. Please note, despite my withdrawal from the MSc program at UM I acknowledged the financial support of both UM and UMiLC at UM. All the necessary data was with me and I could wait for a few months until I join another university and submit the manuscript as part of my work at the new institution. However, I knew for sure that this is not ethical.

Aissaoui also said that he thought the authors would be happy to be part of the publication and asked the fourth author, Inas AlNashef, who co-authored previous papers with Hayyan and Hashim, to help him with the paper:

I thought that Prof. Ali and Dr. Maan would be happy to be part of this work. I informed Dr. AlNashef and he accepted to help me in revising the manuscript and preparing a Response to Reviewers’ comments.

When we asked Hayyan for a statement, he declined to comment.

Shih-Yuan Lu, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers, told us:

We applaud the thorough investigation performed by the Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy Editorial Team and the cooperation from the authors involved.

We’ve also reached out to Hashim and editors Joel Bowman and James Durig at Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy.

Hat Tip: Rolf Degen

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