You know it’s a good one when it makes it onto the Wikipedia page for “scientific misconduct.”
On April 21, the International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics retracted two 2008 papers by scientist Alexander Spivak of Holon Institute of Technology in Israel. In September, the journal updated the notice to explain why: The papers both contained copy/pasted chunks from a 2001 paper by Spivak’s post-doc boss at Tel Aviv University, Zeev Schuss, and two other authors.
The tipster seems to have been Schuss himself, who told us about his role in the unravelling of the fraud:
I learned of the plagiarism when asked for my opinion about the work of the person in question. I received from his institution reprints of his publications and noticed the plagiarized papers. Having communicated my findings to his institution, I took no further action concerning this matter and left it further handling to his institution. It seems that not much has been done until the matter was posted to a blog.
The blog post was on Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz (in Hebrew), part of a longer criticism of Israeli higher education generally. The author, Tali Heruti-Sover, states that after the plagiarism was discovered and the retraction issued, Spivak was not fired. Instead, he was given a year’s sabbatical by Holon, where he was a lecturer.
Spivak is not Holon’s only noted miscreant. According to the same Ha’aretz article, the head of the institution was investigated by police in August for charging plane tickets to see his grandchildren to the university.
Here’s the retraction notice for “THE PROBABILISTIC CHARACTERIZATION OF THE ARRIVAL PROCESS OF PARTICLES INTO AN ABSORBING BOUNDARY,” which is identical to the notice for Spivak’s second retracted paper, “THE STEADY STATE ABSORPTION STREAM AT AN ABSORBING BOUNDARY”:
[Note (September 18-25, 2014)]
The article has been retracted as it (a major part of text and results) is a duplicate of the previously published article:
B. Nadler, T. Naeh, Z. Schuss, The stationary arrival process of independent diffusers from a continuum to an absorbing boundary is poissonian, SIAM J. Appl. Math., 62, No. 2, 433–447; doi:10.1137/S0036139900372363.
This article has been retracted at the request of the Managing Editor.
September 26, 2014: The link to pdf file is active according to the COPE RETRACTION GUIDELINES
We’ve reached out to Spivak and IJPAM, and will update with any new information.