The journal Applied Surface Science (okay, so maybe it’s not called ASS at the home office) is retracting a pair of articles in its December issue.
The first, “Structure and mechanical properties of Ni–P electrodeposited coatings,” appeared in 2009 and was written by a group of researchers in Beijing. It has been cited nine times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Its problem: Plagiarism. According to the retraction notice:
This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief. This paper plagiarizes part of a paper that had already appeared in Surface & Coatings Technology 202 (2008) 5909–5913,http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.surfcoat.2008.06.180
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 second, “Graphene sheets synthesized by ionic-liquidassisted electrolysis for application in water purification,” is somewhat more interesting. That paper was published in January 2013 by authors from Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan. But as the notice explains, that might have been a bit too soon:
This article has been retracted at the request of the authors. In their opinion the described research is not yet completed and needs further investigation. The authors apologize for this inconvenience.
Now, we’re all for correcting the record, but this strikes us as rather odd. If the paper wasn’t completed and the subject needs further investigation, then, well, don’t submit a manuscript for publication. Did the researchers identify problems after publication that they couldn’t solve? If so, why not say that instead?