Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Lesson not learned: Researchers copied a master’s thesis — twice

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A material science journal has retracted a paper after learning the authors took most of the content from a master’s thesis – and added the author as a co-author without his knowledge.

The authors must have really liked this thesis – they lost another paper in 2015 for copying from the same document.

Both retracted articles were co-authored by three researchers in the Department of Civil Engineering at Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University in Tehran, Iran. The first author, Saeed Ghaffarpour Jahromi, serves as the University’s Dean of Faculty in the School of Civil Engineering.

Simon Hesp, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, told Retraction Watch that he had notified both journals about the plagiarism when he recognized the thesis of Benjamin James Smith, who was a master’s student in his lab from 1998 to 2000. Hesp told us:

I am happy to see that they have retracted the article…

Here is the latest retraction, issued by Construction and Building Materials.

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

The authors have taken the majority of content in this paper from Benjamin Smith’s thesis [LOW-TEMPERATURE AND DYNAMIC FATIGUE TOUGHENING MECHANISMS IN ASPHALT MASTICS AND MIXTURES] [http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk3/ftp04/MQ55931.pdf] [ISBN: 0612559319]. Benjamin Smith was credited as a co-author for the paper but had no knowledge of this paper being published with his name attributed to it. A condition of submission of a paper for publication is that the corresponding author is responsible for ensuring that all co-authors have seen and approved the final version of the paper and have agreed to its submission for publication. Authors also declare explicitly that their work is original and has not appeared in a publication elsewhere. Re-use of any data should be appropriately cited. Having failed to adhere to these conditions of submission, 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.

Fracture Mechanism in Bitumen, Modified Bitumen and Asphalt Mixes” – which has been cited twice, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters — was published in April 2012, before the other retracted article, which was published online in December 2013 in the journal Petroleum Science and Technology.

We have been unable to locate contact information for Benjamin Smith. We emailed the editor-in-chief of Construction and Building Materials as well as the first author (Jahromi). We will update if we receive a response.

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Written by Stephanie Wykstra

December 26th, 2016 at 9:30 am

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