Solar paper retracted after plagiarism and duplication come to light

rsesTwo solar cell researchers at the University of New South Wales have lost a paper in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews after the discovery of “substantial overlap” with work by a UNSW graduate student.

The notice cites three sources for the plagiarism. One is an unpublished manuscript by UNSW student Matthew Wright, which he shared with the authors of the retracted paper for “research collaboration only.”

The other two are papers that Wright wrote with UNSW professor Ashraf Uddin, who co-authored the retracted paper with UNSW researcher Xiaohan Yang. Yang’s name also appears on one of the plagiarized papers. All of that suggests that the “substantial overlap” includes duplication as well as plagiarism.

According to Wright’s Google Scholar profile, Uddin has been a co-author on every one of his papers, suggesting that Uddin is Wright’s thesis advisor or P.I., though neither Wright nor Uddin responded to our emailed questions.

Here’s the notice for “Effect of thermal annealing on P3HT:PCBM bulk-heterojunction organic solar cells: A critical review”:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and with the agreement of the authors.

This article contains substantial overlap with the following sources:


Organic–inorganic hybrid solar cells: A comparative review; Matthew Wright, Ashraf Uddin; Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells 107 (2012) 87–111.


Effects of annealing on bulk-heterojunction organic solar cells; Xiaohan Yang, Ashraf Uddin, Matthew Wright; Advanced Science, Engineering and Medicine 4 (2012) 1–7.


An unpublished manuscript by Matthew Wright shared with the author for the purposes of research collaboration only.

We regret that this problem was not detected before the article was accepted for publication in the journal.

The paper, published in February 2014, has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

We reached out to Wright, Uddin, Yang, and the editor of the journal, and will update if we hear back.

Update, 10 a.m. Eastern, 1/9/15: Wright tells us:

Sorry to disappoint, I won’t be commenting on this matter.

Hat tip: Doublegreen 

4 thoughts on “Solar paper retracted after plagiarism and duplication come to light”

  1. “This article contains substantial overlap with the following sources”. Seems like Elsevier is starting to finally improve its retraction notices, but this is still far from perfect. Emphasizing why we need RW: to try and get the full story. Elsevier provides the bare minimum (the classical bestiges of a lawyer’s art-work). The retraction notice really needs to include much more, in particular, in cases like these that are implicitly or explicitly implying plagiarism, or self-plagiarism (I don’t care about the euphemisms of the terminology any longer), the exact level of overlap, so in terms of: a) exact number of words and b) the exact % of total text. Also, the exact software used should be explained. It is quite obvious that Elsevier continues to be blatantly opaque about the background. When does the new boycott against Elsevier begin?

  2. It doesn’t matter too much, as p3ht:pcbm research is booooring. It has been clear for a number of years that this system is not a good model for high-efficiency solar cells and that results obtained with it have little or no significance for research on high-performing systems (both from an academic and industrial point of view). It amuses me why so much is still done (and funded!) on p3ht.

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