Plagiarism forces retraction of mathematical modeling paper

A group of Turkish researchers has retracted a paper purporting to show a method of calculating the thermodynamic properties of certain transition metals, because it was plagiarized from another article. The withdrawn paper, “A simple analytical EAM model for some bcc metals,” was published in 2010 in Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation.

Here’s the notice (we added a link to the plagiarized paper):

This article has been retracted at the request of the editors, as the authors have plagiarized part of a paper that had already appeared in Z. Phys. B. 101, 161–168 (1996). 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 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 paper has been cited twice, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. We’ve tried to reach the authors and journal editors, to find out if they agreed on the notice, and how this came to the editors’ attention, and will update with anything we hear back. [See updates at end.]

This retraction was apparently first noted by ve dierleri, a blog dedicated to Turkish scientists who plagiarize.

The journal has come up in another Retraction Watch post. In that item, another journal forced a retraction because the work had already been published in Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation.

Update, 11:15 a.m. Eastern, 8/1/11: Stefano Ruffo, one of the journal’s editors, replied to our email this morning: 

A reader (thus not a party involved) warned us that the article resembled another (older) article and hence we started an investigation, with  retraction as result.

We had also asked whether there would be any sanctions against the authors:

We are only involved in matters directly related to publications and as such we are not involved in any way in sanctions towards authors.

We may have been unclear; what we meant was whether the authors would be allowed to publish in the journal moving forward. We’ve asked for clarification.

Update, 1:15 p.m. Eastern, 8/1/11: We’ve also heard back from Ergun Kasap, the senior author of the retracted paper. It was a student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, who alerted the journal to the plagiarism, in January of this year. In correspondence with the journal, Kasap placed the blame on a graduate student:

I believe he tried to use the English of a similar article as a template in order to present his results. I do not think he was ill-intentioned, but I also do not consider his approach ethical. Had I known of it, I would not have allowed it.

Here’s the entire email:

Ibrahim H. Dursun, one of the authors, is my doctoral student. Dursun worked on the subject of  “Calculation of Cu, Ni, Fe atoms and Fe-Cu alloys using the EAM model” in his Ph.D. thesis, “Embedded Atom Method Application of Metal Atoms and Alloys” which he finished in 2004. 

Dursun informed me that he would be presenting the results of his Ph.D thesis and of a subsequent study at the meeting “International Workshop on New Trends in Science and Technology, 3-4 November 2008-NTST08,” which was to be held in Ankara in May 2008. Because of my intensive activity in a prior commitment, I told him that I would be unable to help him and that he could present his work on Fe-Cu alloys.

I was also unable to attend the Workshop. I was appalled and chagrined when I read your and Ziya’s emails. I did not know the contents of the article published in CNSNS. I only became aware of its contents upon reading the emails. I had been under the impression that Dursun had presented the contents of his Ph.D thesis. I checked out the article after reading your email. I did not work with Dursun on the article, I only worked with him on his doctorate.

Dursun has performed the calculations in this article, the calculations belong to him, but his method of presentation is flawed. This is Dursun’s first article, and his command of English is weak. I believe he tried to use the English of a similar article as a template in order to present his results. I do not think he was ill-intentioned, but I also do not consider his approach ethical. Had I known of it, I would not have allowed it. 

I would like to thank you and other scientists who saw the article in CNSNS and sounded the warning. I must emphasize that I am very sorry for this outcome. 

Please remove this article from the journal (CNSNS – Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation Volume 15, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 1259-1266).

If this is not possible, I cannot accept this article. Please remove my name from the list of authors.

What’s still unclear is how Kasap’s name ended up on an article that he claims not to have even seen before it was published. We’ll update with anything else we find out.

Hat tip: Ivan Christov

One thought on “Plagiarism forces retraction of mathematical modeling paper”

  1. It’s all good and well that the article has been retracted but is ScienceDirect going to refund the obscene amount of money ($39.95) they demanded in order to read a copy of the article?

    Didn’t think so.

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