Paper — with longest title ever? — retracted for lack of author approval

inorgchimactaThe journal Inorganica Chimica Acta has retracted a paper it published earlier this year over an authorship dispute involving the lead researcher and his colleagues in France.

The title of the paper — whose bulk alone gave us a headache  — was “Reaction of a bidentate ligands (4,4′-dimethyl 2,2′-bipyridine) with planar-chiral chloro-bridged ruthenium: Synthesis of cis-dicarbonyl[4,4′-dimethyl-2,2′-bipyridine- κO1,κO2]{2-[tricarbonyl(η6-phenylene- κC1)chromium]pyridine-κN}ruthenium hexafluorophosphate” — and it purportedly came from a lab in Beirut.

However, as the retraction notice indicates, that’s not quite so:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor.

The corresponding author Akram Hijazi is a former Ph.D. student of the University of Strasbourg. This work is part of the Ph.D. thesis he carried out under the direct supervision of Jean-Pierre Djukic and Michel Pfeffer in Strasbourg and not at the university of Beirut like the article suggests. Jean-Pierre Djukic and Michel Pfeffer have not given their approval for the publication of this work in this form. As a regular registered Ph.D. student, Akram Hijazi was not supposed to publish any data without the approval of the University of Strasbourg and the above mentioned supervisors.

The last time we wrote about a case like this, involving a young researcher at a UCSF orthopedics lab, the post sparked a significant number of comments. Most criticized the researcher for her “unauthorized” — that’s a debatable word in the event — use of the data. This case, we think, differs somewhat from the previous incident, because, at least according to the retraction notice, the first author not only misrepresented his affiliation but evidently had agreed not to publish the data without prior consent.

0 thoughts on “Paper — with longest title ever? — retracted for lack of author approval”

  1. If it happened here in the US, I would suspect that someone was trying to beef up his tenure package by making it look like the work was done at his new institution. Not sure if the rules and pressures are the same in Lebanon.

    1. you beat me to it. If he’s at the U of Beirut (a place on the edge of a whirlpool of chaos and war) then maybe he figured they wouldn’t say anything about it if he published his PhD work in some obscure journal to beef up his resume for maybe getting out of there. Oops.

      However, marcus, I disagree with your last sentence, namely that he had “specifically agreed”; it seems to me the notice merely referred to the fact that, as a student, he was under a general interdiction, at least as I read it. Do you agree/disagree?

  2. Where is the problem if the first author, Akram Hijazi, appears in the authors list with both affiliations, in France and Lebanon? Maybe the key should rather be sought in the sentence: “Jean-Pierre Djukic and Michel Pfeffer have not given their approval for the publication of this work in this form“.
    Ah, strangely, in the html page for the original article:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ica.2012.11.002
    the 5th author, Mohamad Reda, appears to be hired by four institutions: two in France, one in Lebanon and one in USA. I hope he don’t suffer too much of jetlag.

    1. The other point raised with this paper was that many “co-authors” had nothing to do at all with the research in question, they were obviously placed there as a mark of reverence, a kind of political move towards a local group leader… and other legitimate authors were simply “forgotten”…
      All this would have been merely acceptable IF the paper was not ill-written…
      One cannot blame the researchers who defended their reputation by obstructing the publication of this piece of rag.

  3. Longest title ever? It’s 17 words and 244 characters in total, without spaces.

    I know of one with 48 words and 287 characters in total:
    “The nucleotide sequence of a 3.2 kb segment of mitochondrial maxicircle DNA from Crithidia fasciculata containing the gene for cytochrome oxidase subunit III, the N-terminal part of the apocytochrome b gene and a possible frameshift gene; further evidence for the use of unusual initiator triplets in trypanosome mitochondria”
    a paper from 1987 by Sloof et al.

    Does anyone know of an even longer one?

  4. ICA is by no means an “obscure” journal. There are countless chemistry papers with very long systematic names in their titles.

  5. The title is not only long, it contains a grammatical error: “Reaction of a (singular) bidentate ligands (plural)….”

  6. The affiliation reads: Lebanese University and not University of Beirut — which does not exist by the way. I guess the people who wrote the retraction notice should’ve tried to be a bit more accurate. Life in academia is in fact quite competative in Lebanon since it’s a small country with limited funding for the sciences.

    I also resent the offhanded remark by “puzzled monkey” that the first author was trying to get out of the country (especially since he had apparently just returned). I know a lot of good people working in the Lebanese universities and trying to get by amid the political upheavels witnessed by the region. We can, as scientists, have a bit more empathy and not snicker at the misfortunes of others.

    1. I apologize for the implied need to “get out of the country” in my comment–it certainly is presumptuous. I am sure that there are many good people still working in Lebanese universities about which I know nothing. I had hoped to imply sympathy for your travails, not rudeness, and I apologize again.

      I am trying to get comic relief from an awful situation, the dissolution of the middle East, and failing, should probably shut up. I can see my recommendation to “beef up” your resume falls flat when no-one answers your letters and emails. Maybe I should just say “keep your head down.” And whatever they tell you, I believe in a free Syria.

  7. As a well informed witness of this retraction, I can only say that this paper was indeed submitted years after the lebanese author left Strasbourg, using his old student email address (which was not closed by the alsacian institution, terrible mistake) in the submission process, this probably to make his submission more acceptable to the referees and editors.
    Nothing really to buzz around. How many similar papers have never been retracted just because it takes too much time to act and obtain satisfaction ?
    This paper is a clear infringement to several principles that base what one commonly calls: intellectual property.
    Submission of results without the consent of the legitimate co-authors is a blatant violation of intellectual property, one of the few principles for which international conventions exist and must be applied.
    It is clear that research has become competitive, Universities strive to defend their rights.
    No doubt that similar cases will flourish in the near future.

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