The wheels of scientific publishing turn slowly … but they do (sometimes) turn.
In January, we reported on the case of a paper on global warming marred by several problems, including allegations of plagiarism and “false claims” by the authors — which readers had raised as early as 2014, with no result. (Find a discussion of those allegations here.)
When Saidur Rahman learned last month that his 2010 review paper about nanoparticles in refrigeration systems had been retracted, he was concerned—no one at the journal had told him it was going to be pulled.
Rahman, a professor of engineering at Sunway University in Selangor, Malaysia, had recently corrected his 2010 review in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews—specifically, in January, the journal published a two-page correction rewriting the parts of the paper that were “appear close to some materials we had included in some of our other review research.” But Rahman was not anticipating a retraction. Continue reading Oops: Elsevier journal retracts the wrong paper
A renewable energy researcher who recycled material in several papers — and has already agreed to withdraw 10 studies — has lost another paper.
In January, we reported that six of 10 papers flagged by an investigation into author Shyi-Min Lu have either been retracted or withdrawn. Now, Lu has lost another paper that was not among the previous ten — again, for reproducing figures from earlier works without seeking permission from original authors. This paper was on a hot topic: gas hydrates, considered to be a potential new energy source to replace oil in the 21st century.
The investigations into Lu’s work took place at the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Hsinchu, Taiwan, where he was formerly based, and the National Taiwan University, in Taipei, Taiwan, which fired Lu from his position at the university’s energy research center.
With retraction notices continuing to pour in, we like to occasionally take the opportunity to cover several at a time to keep up.
We’ve compiled a handful of retractions that were all issued to papers that were published twice by at least one of the same authors — known as duplication. (Sometimes, this can be the publisher’s fault, although that doesn’t appear to be the case in any of the following examples.)
Investigations at two institutions at Taiwan determined in 2013 that a renewable energy researcher duplicated his own work; the researcher agreed to pull 10 papers. A total of six have been withdrawn or retracted, two in November, 2015.
Shyi-Min Lu is the corresponding author on the two newly retracted papers, from Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. The retractions follow investigations at the Industrial Technology Research Institute, where Lu used to work, and National Taiwan University, his former employer. Lu admitted to committing offenses in 10 papers. He was fired from NTU, where he was a research assistant at the university’s Energy Research Center.
The paper, published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, focused on geothermal energy, while the government report was far broader in scope. However, the lack of independent research was enough to sink the review. We covered another Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews retraction recently, making us wonder if this is part of a crack-down for the journal.
Two solar cell researchers at the University of New South Wales have lost a paper in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews after the discovery of “substantial overlap” with work by a UNSW graduate student.
The notice cites three sources for the plagiarism. One is an unpublished manuscript by UNSW student Matthew Wright, which he shared with the authors of the retracted paper for “research collaboration only.”
The other two are papers that Wright wrote with UNSW professor Ashraf Uddin, who co-authored the retracted paper with UNSW researcher Xiaohan Yang. Yang’s name also appears on one of the plagiarized papers. All of that suggests that the “substantial overlap” includes duplication as well as plagiarism.
According to Wright’s Google Scholar profile, Uddin has been a co-author on every one of his papers, suggesting that Uddin is Wright’s thesis advisor or P.I., though neither Wright nor Uddin responded to our emailed questions.
Sixteen papers are being retracted across three Elsevier journals after the publisher discovered that one of the authors, Khalid Zaman, orchestrated fake peer reviews by submitting false contact information for his suggested reviewers.
This particular kind of scam has been haunting online peer review for a few years now, as loyal Retraction Watch readers know. This one is a classic of the genre: According to Elsevier’s director of publishing services, Catriona Fennell, an editor first became suspicious after noticing that Zaman’s suggested reviewers, all with non-institutional addresses, were unusually kind to the economist’s work.
Elsevier has actually hired a full-time staff member with a PhD in physics and history as a managing editor to do the grunt work on cases like this. Flags were first raised in August, at which point the ethics watchdog went to town digging through all of Zaman’s other publications looking for suspicious reviews coming from non-institutional addresses provided by the scientist, an economist at COMSATS Information Technology Center in Abbottabad, Pakistan.