“Copyright issues that cannot be resolved” and duplicate publication sink two groundwater papers

EnvEarthSci_ak18Springer has retracted two articles about groundwater in Algeria from its journal Environmental Earth Sciences – one was sent down the well by “copyright issues that cannot be resolved,” and the other by a duplicate publication two years prior.

The first article of the two, “Principal component, chemical, bacteriological, and isotopic analyses of Oued-Souf groundwaters,” was published in 2009 by researchers in Japan and Algeria. Its corresponding author, Hakim Saibi, is listed as an associate professor in the faculty of engineering at Kyushu University in Japan. We can’t say anything about the article’s content beyond what’s in the title, since its abstract is no longer available online. The retraction notice consists of a single, lonely sentence:

The article has been retracted due to copyright issues that cannot be resolved.

The second article, which presents a map of aquifers in the Annaba–Bouteldja region that are most vulnerable to pollution, was published last year by Badra Attoui and colleagues at the University of Annaba in Algeria. The abstract for “Use of a new method for determining the vulnerability and risk of pollution of major groundwater reservoirs in the region of Annaba–Bouteldja (NE Algeria)” notes that it has an associated erratum – but the erratum’s link points to the retraction.

The retraction notice states:

The article is retracted at the publisher’s request because it was previously published under the title “State of vulnerability to pollution of the big reservoirs of ground water in the region of Annaba-Bouteldja (NE Algeria)” in the journal of Geographia Technica (2012), No 2, 1–13, by the same authors.

Neither of the articles has been cited.

Saibi didn’t respond to our email and Attoui declined to comment; a representative of Springer had nothing to add.

Update 6/24/15 7:06 p.m. eastern: We heard from Saibi, who had this statement:

..the problem was about misunderstanding/miscommunication between me and the Algerian Research institute where I did a part of my master research between 2000 and 2002, and it is not related to copyright issue.

Recently, I contacted the Algerian Research Institute and we could easily solve the misunderstanding between us and now we can publish the paper as it is.

Hat tip: Jean-Claude Bollinger

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