Economics paper retracted for plagiarism after citing its twin

econmodAs we’ve pointed out before, economics and business journals have few retractions compared with the other academic literature. Opinions vary on why this is, but the fact that only a few journals have plagiarism policies can’t help.

Research Papers in Economics, or RePEc, an organization that maintains a database of economics papers, however, thoroughly investigates accusations of misconduct. A RePEc report, which indicated that the plagiarists were polite enough to cite the original paper, was used in the notice as evidence for a retraction in Economic Modelling.

Here’s the notice for “Retraction notice to “Analysis of nonlinear duopoly game with heterogeneous players”:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

This paper has been removed on the grounds of plagiarism. This case was investigated by the REPEC Plagiarism Committee and plagiarism was confirmed. The complete plagiarism case is described at

Original article details: Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Volume 320, 15 March 2003, pages 512–524.

The paper has been cited 42 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the text from the plagiarism committee’s report:


Name: Jixiang Zhang
Affiliation at time of decision: School of Economics and Management, Southeast University, Nanjing
Name: Qingli Da
Affiliation at time of decision: School of Economics and Management, Southeast University, Nanjing
Name: Yanhua Wang
Affiliation at time of decision: School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Min Hang


Note: some links may turn invalid over time, especially if the committee has requested some works to be pulled.

Zhang, Jixiang & Da, Qingli & Wang, Yanhua, 2007. “Analysis of nonlinear duopoly game with heterogeneous players,” Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 138-148, January. (local copy)

H.N. Agiza, A.A. Elsadany, 2003. Nonlinear dynamics in the Cournot duopoly game with heterogeneous players, Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Volume 320, 15 March 2003, pages 512-524. (local copy)

The first article is a rewrite of the second one with a slightly different cost function. The text structure is preserved, except for a few omissions, and the wording has been altered. The second article is cited.

Response of accused offenders

No response could be obtained from the accused offenders.

Committee decision

YES Notification of offender superiors
YES Notification of editor published plagiarising work
YES Request of removal of plagiarising work
YES Notification of afflicted author(s)
YES Notification of afflicted editor
NO Banning of author from RePEc Author Service
YES Publication on RePEc plagiarism page

We’ve reached out to the authors and to RePEc, and will update with any new information.

2 thoughts on “Economics paper retracted for plagiarism after citing its twin”

  1. I am not fully convinced of this retraction. in fact, in the 2007 paper, the Authors not only were citing the old paper, but they were exactly identifying the substantial difference between the old and the new paper (the cost function, page 139). Being a reviewer, I would have suggested rejection of the 2007 paper for lack of relevance (well, the substantial contribution, i.e. the difference between the two paper, is really small!!). But at that time, the reviewers and the Editor, clearly, did not share this view…

    1. Based on the acknowledgment in the Zhang et al paper, it appears that these are graduate students.

      The paper reminds me of the kind of paper assigned in graduate school – take a published paper, make a minor change and redo the work. Unless your change makes a significant contribution to the literature, the best you can hope from your paper is a good grade.

      What bothers me is that the Agiza and Elsadany paper is in a journal that is not indexed in the standard index for economics (EconLit). In Zhang et al, there is also no discussion on the added value of a change of the cost function or how their results compare with Agiza and Elsadany (2003). The reviewers may not have known that the two papers differed only by the choice of the cost function.

      I am real curious why RePec (and not the journal) took on a paper published in 2007.

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