Chemical engineering journal retracts paper with unknowing author

AiChemE-logoAIChemE’s website promises, “Subscribing to the AIChE Journal is like having access to nine topical journals in the field.”

Without a subscription, though, you might miss out on some valuable topical information – like why a paper you want to cite has been retracted, something the Committee on Publication Ethics recommends be freely available.

Here’s the notice for “Flow Structure and Particle Motions in a Gas-Polyethylene Fluidized Bed,” originally published in 2007:

It has come to the attention of the editor and publisher that “Flow Structure and Particle Motions in a Gas-Polyethylene Fluidized Bed” by X. Fan, Z. Yang, and D. J. Parker, DOI 10.1002/aic.11232, published online on June 14, 2007, was submitted without the knowledge of one of the authors who was removed from the author list.

The AIChE Journal retracts the paper and apologizes to our readership.

That notice seems a bit unclear. Was the unknowing author removed from the list before or after the paper was submitted? If before, how did her or she learn about the submission? If after, well, what exactly does that mean? The original paper has also disappeared, instead of being marked “retracted,” so whatever clues are there are unavailable.

We’ve reached out to the publisher and corresponding author, and will update with anything we learn

Hat tip: Michael Fischer

5 thoughts on “Chemical engineering journal retracts paper with unknowing author”

  1. This story raises the interesting point (to me, at least) of what to do with papers that have been published without the consent of one of the authors. I was surprised to see my name on a paper I had nothing to do with and no knowledge of, although I did provide some published reagents that were used in the work. I contacted the journal, and was advised that a correction would be appropriate, so my name was subsequently removed from the text and the paper republished. I’m not entirely happy with this outcome, because I feel that it is deceitful to put my name on a piece of work without my knowledge. But then again, if the work is solid, maybe its just my feelings that are hurt?

    1. I think ti’s highly unethical to include one’s name as an author without their explicit consent.

      It happened to me a couple of times that colleagues whom I had given some advice started writing a paper with my name as a coauthor. It wasn’t a big problem, since once I asked them to remove my name, they did so without further ado. Still, if left some akward feelings, because apparently they didn’t understand why I didn’t want to appear as a coauthor.

    2. ”But then again, if the work is solid, maybe its just my feelings that are hurt?” If the work is solid you are receiving undeserved credit for it. If the work turns out not to be solid, you are undeservedly held responsible for it. So, no, it’s not just your feelings being hurt.

      My first interpretation of the retraction notice was that they failed to credit someone who should have been a co-author, but is is a rather ambiguous wording (plus why would you want a retraction in that case, rather than just a correction to add your name to the list).

      1. In Plant Molecular Biology Reporter, a paper was published in 2009:
        Plant Molecular Biology Reporter September 2009, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 321-333
        Enhanced Tolerance to Water Deficit and Salinity Stress in Transgenic Lycium barbarum L. Plants Ectopically Expressing ATHK1, an Arabidopsis thaliana Histidine Kinase Gene
        Ni Chen, Yan Liu, Xin Liu, Juan Chai, Zhong Hu, Guangqin Guo, Heng Liu

        Yet, an erratum, published in 2010, states the following:
        “Prof. Guangqin Guo has not been notified of the work undertaken nor of its submission and acceptance and should not be included in the list of authors. He has not, in any way, been involved in the research and writing of this paper.”

        In other words, the authors submitted a paper with false (guest) authorship. So why is this paper published in a journal whose publisher is a COPE member not retracting this paper? This is not an error. It is deceipt. A case of different strokes for different folks?

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