Would you pay $63 for a retraction notice?

For $63 plus tax, you can have a single steak with a side order of fried potatoes and a wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce at the famed Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn. Or you can get a peek at one measly retraction notice from Bentham Science Publishers (at least it’s BYOB).

To be fair, the publisher, based in the United Arab Emirates, does offer a free version of the notice on its own website. But Bentham uses the company Ingenta Connect as a go-between to collect fees —  some of which reach $100 per article, according to a company employee — and as far as we can tell, no such gratis access is available through the middleman. Neither does Ingenta direct readers to the free version in its landing page for the notice.

The article in question, “Solubilization and Amorphization of Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug with Low Molecular Weight Chitosan for a New Guar-Based Colon Delivery Formulation,” by Kadria A. Elkhodairy, Nahla S. Barakat and Fars K. Alanazi, appeared in the March 2011 issue of Letters in Drug Design & Discovery. The retraction notice reads:

The above article is a plagiarized version of another article entitled “Low molecular weight chitosan as a vehicle for solubilization and amorphization of nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drug for a new guar gum based column drug delivery formulation” International Journal of Current Research and Review, August 2010, Vol. 2, No. 8, Pp. 62-69 written by the same authors and published in Letters in Drug Design & Discovery, March 2011, Vol. 8, No. 3, Pp 292-301. Bentham Science apologizes to the readers of the journal for not detecting this omission during the publishing process. We thank Professor Kadria A. Elkhodairy for bringing this breach of conduct to our attention.

Elkhodairy is a pharmacy researcher at King Saud University in Riyadh. What’s perhaps more interesting is that the third author on the paper, Alanazi seems to be Elkhodairy’s boss — chairman of the department of pharmaceutics at King Saud, and the Kayyali Scientific Chair for Pharmaceutical Industry in the school’s college of pharmacy.

We’re wondering who (besides the unlucky readers who forked over $63.10 plus tax for the Ingenta version of the notice) ended up getting a novel colon delivery system in all this after all.

By the way, LDDD‘s editor-in-chief is Atta-ur-Rahman, a prominent Pakistani scientist who has been credited with more than 840 publications. Rahman received is A-levels in Karachi 1960, which means that he has published more than a paper per month, on average, for the past 52 years.

In the meantime, we’ll point to the Committee on Publication Ethics’ guidelines, which clearly state that retraction notices should:

be freely available to all readers (i.e. not behind access barriers or available only to subscribers)

0 thoughts on “Would you pay $63 for a retraction notice?”

  1. We don’t need to show you no stinkin’ “Committee on Publication Ethics” guidelines! Just bend over and stick that retraction where the sun don’t shine.

    But seriously, the chutzpah, the chutzpah…

  2. I’ll bet Atta-ur-Rahman has twelve Ph.D. students at all times, with one student finishing every three months and publishing the desired three papers per dissertation. He must work twenty hours per day to be meaningfully involved in every project, apply for funding for all these projects, and recruit four new students each year to replace those who finish. After the twenty-hour stint at his real job, he then heads over to the journal’s office to check on the new submissions. What a hard worker.

    1. According to the Wikipedia entry, he’s had a about 76 PhD students, so your suggestion doesn’t work quite as well as you imagined :-).

      But in all earnest, how does he do it? He’s also Editor-in-Chief and/or Executive Editor for 10+ journals!

      1. So his Ph.D. students get approximately 11 publications per dissertation? Or 228 publications come from dissertations (3 times 76) and he has had 612 master’s students with one publication per thesis? Or, um, dag-nammit, he has the Ph.D. students plus a stable of post-docs who turn out 12 papers each year for 50 years. And he spends all his time at the offices of the journals instead of contributing to the research.

      2. The entry was written by a non-native speaker of English. Perhaps the list of accomplishments has been, um, embellished. It would take some checking to track down all those book chapters and awards.

      3. In danger of making a comment that could be considered inappropriate, the titles of many of his publications are suggestive of “assembly belt” work: take an organism, isolate compounds, determine what they are, and presto, another publication. Sometimes you can milk each individual compound, sometimes you combine a few. This can be done really rapidly.

    1. @Fernando Pessoa: totally missed this out…amazing information. Who actually cloned Dolly then? Ironically, people who did not clone got all the perks..I forgot another scientist credited for this discovery – who is also famous…

    2. Interesting story indeed. There may be still more dubious aspects to this. Some weeks ago, the German “Laborjournal” published an editorial on its website from Peter Lahnert, who used to work on telomere length at the Max Delbruck Center in Berlin.

      He thinks it is not sure that Dolly was a real clone based on the publications about her. The papers provide very little methodological information that would allow to check that. What is clear though, is that the same data got published twice, with minimal changes (Nature 1999, 399(6734):316-7, and Cloning 1999, 1(2):119-25).

      Interesting is also that Ian Wilmut, first author of the first paper (Nature 1997, 385(6619):810-3), and co-author of both follow-up publications, was editor of Cloning (now Cellular reprogramming).

      1. Is this going to be another case for RW? just curious…who was the other person who left UK after cloning..still cannot recall!!

      2. The first sample sent to Sir Alex Jeffries for DNA analysis. Result: not a clone.
        Another sample was sent. Desired result.

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