Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Board member resigns from journal over handling of paper accused of plagiarism

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A biologist is crying foul at a journal’s decision to correct (and not retract) a paper he claims plagiarized his work — and one of his colleagues has resigned from the journal’s editorial board as a result.

The 2016 paper, published by Scientific Reports, is an application of a previously published algorithm designed to better identify regulatory sequences in DNA. The three authors, based at the Shenzhen campus of the Harbin Institute of Technology, used the technique to identify recombination spots in DNA. They called it SVM-gkm.

On April 2, Michael Beer of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore notified the editors of Scientific Reports that he believed the paper had plagiarized his work. Despite Beer’s efforts, the journal ultimately decided to issue a correction notice, which cites “errors” and the authors’ failure to credit Beer’s work. That isn’t good enough for Beer — nor one of his colleagues at Johns Hopkins, who resigned from the journal’s editorial board saying “the recent affair with Mike Beer’s work being plagiarized did not impress me.

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So, was it plagiarism? Journal retracts three papers over “citation and attribution errors”

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When several recent submissions raised a red flag, a pediatrics journal decided to investigate. The journal, Pediatrics in Review, discovered “citation and attribution errors” in three case studies, which the journal has now retracted.  

Luann Zanzola, the managing editor of the journal, explained that the editors caught the errors when they scanned the three papers—one published in 2014 and two in 2015—using the plagiarism detection software, iThenticate. Zanzola told us that the three case studies “were flagged for high iThenticate scores,” and when the authors could not adequately explain the amount of text overlap, the editors retracted the papers.

The retraction notices for the three papers, published in the journal’s September 2017 issue, are identical: Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: Sexual harassment = scientific misconduct, says one society; favorite plagiarism excuses

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Written by Ivan Oransky

September 23rd, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in weekend reads

Author who previously claimed plagiarism was a mistake earns new erratum

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A biotechnology journal has corrected a 2006 paper after discovering duplication and plagiarism.

This offense is the second we know of for the corresponding author, Uttam Chand Banerjee, in the same journal, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. Last year, Banerjee—who works at National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) in Mohali, Punjab, India—had a 14-year-old review retracted in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology after an investigation revealed the authors had plagiarized from numerous sources and failed to reference them. At the time, Banerjee told us that he and his co-authors took a few lines from other reviews and that omitting the references was “simply unintentional.” According to The Indian Express, Banerjee also faced plagiarism allegations in 2005, and was denied a prestigious fellowship in 2011 as a result. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

September 8th, 2017 at 11:18 am

Plagiarism costs author five papers in five different journals

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An engineering researcher has written about models tackling a range of complex issues — security problems in Iraq, poverty in Europe, and emergency responses to humanitarian crises. But there may be some limits to his expertise: Between 2016 and 2017, five journals have retracted five of his papers, citing plagiarism.

Some of the notices describe the plagiarism as “extensive,” “significant,” and “substantial.” One journal editor, who retracted one of Kubilay Kaptan’s papers last year, told us the paper “was simply a direct copy from an existing one.”

The editor noted that Kaptan — who lists his affiliation as the Civil Engineering Department at Beykent University in Istanbul — claimed to be “the victim of a personal smear campaign, which involved submitting plagiarised manuscripts in his name.” We reached out to Kaptan several times by phone and email to verify this claim, but did not hear back.

Here’s the most recent retraction, for a 2016 paper published in Journal of Refugee Studies  Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend reads: A hoax involving a “conceptual penis;” fake reagents; plagiarism irony

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The week at Retraction Watch featured a survey of researchers in China with an alarming result, and asked whether philosophy has a plagiarism problem. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 20th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Posted in weekend reads

Does the philosophy literature have a plagiarism problem?

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Michael Dougherty

Philosopher Michael Dougherty doesn’t take plagiarism sitting down. Over the years, the researcher at Ohio Dominican University has tipped us off to numerous instances of plagiarism he’s spotted. And it turns out, he’s done the same thing for publishers, as well. In a new paper in Metaphilosophy, Dougherty describes his experience contacting publishers over an instance of what he terms “serial plagiarism,” and how they responded – or didn’t respond – to his allegations.

Retraction Watch: Your paper focuses on the publications of one author – Martin W. F. Stone – who you claim has plagiarized numerous times. (We’ve reported on 14 retractions for Stone.) What made you decide to undertake this work?

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Written by Alison McCook

May 19th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Gender-based violence researcher now up to 10 retractions for plagiarism

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A publisher has retracted all of the papers it published by a researcher in Nigeria, citing plagiarism.

The papers, all about terrorism and gender-based violence, were written by Oluwaseun Bamidele. The journal editors and the publisher, Taylor & Francis, decided to retract nine papers by Bamidele because of the overlap to other works — which he also failed to reference.

Bamidele — who also lost a paper on Boko Haram for the same reason — told us he didn’t learn about what constitutes plagiarism until his graduate studies, after he’d already written the now-retracted manuscripts:

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A troubling new way to evade plagiarism detection software. (And how to tell if it’s been used.)

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Ann Rogerson

Recently, at the end of a tutorial, a student asked Ann Rogerson a question she’d never heard before: Was it okay to use paraphrasing tools to write up assignments? Rogerson, a senior lecturer in the faculty of business at the University of Wollongong in Australia, was stumped — she’d never heard of these tools before.

It turns out, the student had learned of the tool from another student. For an assignment, the student had taken wording from a journal article and run it through a free online tool that automatically paraphrases text, so it evades plagiarism detection software.

Immediately, Rogerson remembered wording from a previous student submission that had always bugged her — in an assignment about employee performance reviews, the student had written awkward phrases such as “constructive employee execution” and “worker execution audits.” A lightbulb went off for Rogerson.

She immediately went to her computer, looked up the tools on Google, and easily found one. She typed in “employee performance reviews,” and the tool spit out “representative execution surveys.”

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Written by Alison McCook

April 26th, 2017 at 9:30 am

Faked data, plagiarism, no co-author okays…yeah, this paper’s been retracted

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A researcher in South Korea has retracted a 2016 paper on which he is listed as senior author because a former student wrote and published the article without his permission.

According to the retraction notice, the former student also fabricated data and plagiarized “a substantial amount of material” from previous papers published by the senior and middle author.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Oleaginous yeast-based production of microbial oil from volatile fatty acids obtained by anaerobic digestion of red algae (Gelidium amansii),” published in the Korean Journal of Chemical Engineering in April 2016 and retracted in January: Read the rest of this entry »