Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘plagiarism’ Category

Finnish universities must now use courts to revoke degrees

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layout_set_logoA court in Finland has ruled that universities must go through the court system if they want to revoke a degree.

In a precedent-setting decision, a body dubbed “the court of last resort in administrative cases” in Finland ruled that universities must apply to them to revoke someone’s degree. The ruling, which occurred this month, took place after a former student filed an appeal after the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) cancelled his degree over charges of plagiarism and fraud.

Here is more from the publication Helsingin Sanomat (which we translated using One Hour Translation):  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 30th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Economists go wild over overlooked citations in preprint on prenatal stress

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The_American_Economic_Review_(cover)Citation omissions in an economics preprint have set off a wave of recrimination and speculation on a widely read economics discussion board.

Commenters accuse the authors of purposely omitting citations that would have undermined the paper’s claims to novelty and contributions to the field, leveling acrimony and personal attacks. Economists Petra Persson at Stanford and Maya Rossin-Slater at the University of California, Santa Barbara told us they hadn’t been familiar with the omitted papers at the time they first posted their preprint, but their work remains distinct from these previous studies. Nevertheless, the two quickly updated the preprint of their paper – accepted by the top-tier economics journal American Economic Review – to include additional citations. An editor at the journal said it’s not unusual for authors to request such changes before publication, and dismissed the accusations made on the discussion board, calling the site “not a legitimate source of information.”

The study, “Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation,” used data from Swedish national databases to compare mental health outcomes of people born to women who lost a relative while pregnant and women who lost a relative in the first year after giving birth. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Emily Willingham

May 26th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Paper plagiarizes from handwritten manuscript

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semiform groupThis case of plagiarism is a little weirder than usual.

A paper has been retracted from Semigroup Forum because it includes material taken from another researcher’s manuscript — which was handwritten. In fact, the same journal had already published a paper by the plagiarized researcher, also based on the same manuscript. The journal editor told us that, although the two papers are similar, they are not word-for-word copies, and thus escaped detection.

The retraction notice for “Varieties of bands with a semilattice” gives more details about the handwritten manuscript:

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Written by Shannon Palus

May 24th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Dutch university ordered to pay economist after she was accused of plagiarism

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VU UniversityA court in the Netherlands has fined Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) 7,500 euros to compensate for “immaterial damage” to an economist accused of plagiarism.

Karima Kourtita researcher at VU, has been at the receiving end of anonymous complaints to her institution accusing her of plagiarism and her professor, high-profile economist Peter Nijkamp, of duplication (i.e. self-plagiarism). Kourtit is now seeking to prosecute the unnamed source of the complaint for defamation; the VU told us it will no longer accept fully anonymous complaints.

The case began when VU cancelled Kourtit’s thesis defense for plagiarism, and a report published on the VSNU, the Association of Universities, accused Nijkamp of self-plagiarism. Two of Nijkamp’s papers have been retracted as a result of the investigation; Kourtit is an author on one of the retracted papers.

A VU spokesperson told us:

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Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

May 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

What happened after a journal decided to get tough on plagiarism?

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Carol Shoshkes Reiss

In July 2015, DNA and Cell Biology began routinely scanning manuscript submissions for plagiarism using iThenticate; since then, it’s rejected between four and six manuscripts each month for that reason alone. Additional submissions have been rejected after the journal realized the authors had digitally altered figures. The level of misconduct “shocked” editor-in-chief Carol Shoshkes Reiss, as she wrote in a recent editorial for the journal. She spoke to us about the strict measures the journal has adopted in response to these incidents.

Retraction Watch: Why did you decide to begin scanning submissions for plagiarized text using iThenticate™ software in July, 2015? Did something prompt that decision? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 18th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Ever been asked to review your own paper? This economist was

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Serdar Sayan

Serdar Sayan

“Eerily familiar”: That’s how Serdar Sayan of TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Turkey says it felt to read a submission to the Scandinavian Journal of Economics, after the journal asked him to review the manuscript. It turns out, it was Sayan’s paper, word for word, equation for equation, down to the last punctuation mark. But this wasn’t a case of authors faking email addresses for reviewers to rubber stamp their own work – instead, the author had plagiarized from a paper Sayan had published a few years earlier. Sayan describes the surreal experience in the Review of Social Economy (vol. 74, no. 1, 2016), in a paper titled: “Serving as a referee for your own paper: A dream come true or…?

“I have been asked by a journal to serve as a referee for my own paper. Obviously, this sounds just as unlikely, and probably almost as intriguing, as saying ‘I have attended my own funeral.’” — Serdar Sayan, Review of Social Economy (vol. 74, no. 1, 2016)

Retraction Watch: When you looked at the paper, how long did it take you to figure out what had happened? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

May 12th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Materials journal breaks three papers from the same author

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Metals and Materials Journal.

Metals and Materials International has retracted three papers from one author, due to suspicions of plagiarism and authorship issues.

The three papers have one thing in common — the same lead author, Reza Haghayeghi from the Islamic Azad University in Tehran, Iran.

The retraction notices — all released in March, 2016 — lead with the following:

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Seven more retractions for anti-terrorism prof brings count to 15

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MemonAnti-terrorism researcher Nasrullah Memon has notched seven more retractions, bringing his total up to 15 — earning him a spot on our leaderboard.

We previously reported on eight pulled papers authored by Memon, based at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. There was some confusion over whether his count then increased to nine — but, following a retracted retraction, his total was back to eight.

Now, it seems like the retracted retraction has been re-retracted, and six other of Memon’s publications have been pulled. Memon has also been found guilty of plagiarising his PhD thesis, and more of his work is being questioned online.

The retraction notices for the newly pulled material — all published by Springer — include the following statement: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

May 9th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Peer review scam leader now up to 20 retractions

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Khalid Zaman

Khalid Zaman

We’ve unearthed four more retractions for Khalid Zaman, an economist who lost 16 papers in 2014 for orchestrating fake peer review.

That brings Zaman’s total to 20, and ties him at the #18 spot on our leaderboard.

One of the more recently discovered retractions is for fake peer review, attributed to Zaman; one is for plagiarism, and two other papers were withdrawn while in press, for reasons that are unclear. (Note bene: These retractions are all at least one year old.)

First, the retraction notice for peer review issues, published in April 2015 for “Environmental Indicators and Energy Outcomes: Evidence from World Bank’s Classification Countries:”

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Cancer paper that doctored image from Science story earns retraction

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lungcancercoverHere’s a joke for all you middle-schoolers out there. How are doctored images like bad pennies? They keep cropping up!

Here’s the latest one we’ve picked up: Lung Cancer has retracted a 2014 paper on the genetics of tumors after concluding the authors cribbed a figure that had appeared in a 2005 feature story in Science.

The paper, “ß-elemene against human lung cancer via up-regulation of P53 protein expression to promote the release of exosome,” drew attention on PubPeer last September from a reader who noticed striking similarities between one of the images the authors used and a figure in the Science piece (subscription required). According to the PubPeer commenter: Read the rest of this entry »