Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Prominent physicist accused of repeated self-plagiarism logs 2 retractions

without comments

optical-materialsA physicist working for the Indian government has notched two retractions after being accused of multiple acts of self-plagiarism by his colleagues.

One retraction notice in Applied Surface Science says a duplicate of the paper was previously published by the same author — N. K. Sahoo, a researcher at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), which is part of the Indian government’s Department of Atomic Energy in Trombay, Mumbai. The other notice, which appears in Optical Materials, notes that the study “for the most part” has appeared in another paper by Sahoo.

Despite concerns about his work, Sahoo was promoted in May, according to the Mumbai Mirror. As a result, members of the Bhabha Atomic Research Officers’ Association wrote to BARC director K. N. Vyas asking for the institution to take action against Sahoo. A member of the group told the Mumbai Mirror in August:

Dr Sahoo reused portions from five sets of his research papers 15 times while submitting new articles to journals. Two of his papers that appeared in two journals are exactly the same barring the title…There have been 15 instances of self-plagiarism, yet he has been promoted.

We’ve also reached out to Sahoo for a comment, but haven’t heard back. In September, Sahoo told the Mumbai Mirror:

I am being targeted because the other scientists are jealous of me.

Here’s the retraction notice in Applied Surface Science:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and Author. The article is a duplicate of a paper that has already been published in Applied Physics D, 39 (2006), 4059–4067, doi:10.1088/0022-3727/39/18/017. One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that the paper is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. 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 2007 paper, “Spectral diffuse reflectance measurements of gadolinia, silica thin film systems using synchrotron radiation,” has so far been cited twice, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.  

Sahoo requested the retraction of this paper in October 2015; a letter he wrote to the publisher, which was obtained by the Mumbai Mirror, reads:

The article on Applied Surface Science was submitted in February 2006 but there was no response from the editor, Dr Frans Habraken. So we submitted the paper with a new title to another journal on May 4, 2006. The article was published within one month…To our surprise Dr Habraken accepted which eventually got published in October 2006. It can malign my image so I request you to retract my first paper.

A spokesperson for the Institute of Physics (IOP) Publishing, which publishes the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, told us the journal does not plan to retract the paper mentioned in the Applied Surface Science retraction notice, “Observation and analysis of spectral interference modulations in thin film light scattering experiments using synchrotron radiation,” as it was first to publish it. The spokesperson added:

IOP Publishing takes accusations of scientific misconduct very seriously. We investigated this case in 2015, when we were first made aware of the situation. As a result, we imposed sanctions on the author in question, Dr N K Sahoo, in September 2015.

The spokesperson declined to reveal details of the sanctions, citing confidentiality.

Here’s the other retraction notice, issued by Optical Materials:

The article is not original and for the most part already appeared in [APSUSC, 245 (2005) 114 – 127. 10.1016/j.apsusc.2004.09.121]. 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 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.

This 2005 paper, “Optical properties and morphological changes in gadolinia films deposited under ambient substrate temperature conditions,” has been cited 10 times. 

We’ve asked Applied Surface Science’s editor-in-chief if the journal plans to take any action on the paper mentioned in the Optical Materials retraction notice, “Reactive electron beam evaporated gadolinia films at ambient substrate temperature: optical properties and morphology studies.”

Sahoo, who is due to retire in 2018, is currently listed as the associate director of BARC’s physics group.

We’ve contacted Vyas for a comment, and will update the post with anything else we learn.

Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post, or subscribe to our daily digest. Click here to review our Comments Policy. For a sneak peek at what we’re working on, click here.

  • Post a comment

    Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.