Author’s coordination of peer review flags 13 math papers

home_cover (3)Thirteen papers in Mathematics and Mechanics of Solids now have an expression of concern, after it came to light that an author on most of the papers coordinated the peer-review process.

David Y. Gao, a well-known and prolific mathematician at the Federation University Australia, is the author of 11 of the papers, and also the guest editor of the special issue in which they were set to appear. The papers were published online earlier this year.

A spokesperson for SAGE, which publishes the journal, confirmed that the publisher decided to re-review the papers after learning about Gao’s role in the peer-review process:

Upon learning that a guest editor of an upcoming special issue of Mathematics and Mechanics of Solids (MMS) was listed as a co-author on 11 of the 13 papers featured in that issue and that the same guest editor had co-ordinated the peer review process, SAGE has asked the Editor in Chief to find independent reviewers to ensure that the papers in question are valid for publication. The guest editor believes the papers are sound and there is no evidence to suggest that any of the peer reviews were conducted improperly, but out of an abundance of caution and to avoid the appearance of impropriety, SAGE has published an expression of concern while the papers are re-reviewed.

Gao told us that the Expressions of Concern stemmed from a complaint:

All papers in this special issue were peer reviewed and the publisher has the record. The only reason for the “expression of concern” is due to someone who complained to the publisher recently if these papers were peer reviewed since I am the author and co-author for several papers in this issue.  Therefore, the publisher discussed with me on this issue and I have agreed to have all these papers to be re-reviewed by a set of independent experts.

Many of the papers deal with canonical duality theory — a new-ish way to compute answers to difficult optimization problems — in which Gao is an expert. Gao told us why he thought he was qualified to handle peer review:

Yes, it could be much more appropriate to  let someone to do this job the editor assigned to me 2 years ago. But this is a relatively new theory and developed mainly by me and my co-workers. The editor has the right to choose the right person to do this job.

He also told us that some of the peer reviewers were also authors of papers in the special issue:

There are a few peer reviewers publishing this special issue. This is the reason why the publisher decided to have a new  set of independent reviewers.

Here’s the full EoC (which is paywalled, tsk tsk):

The Publisher and Journal Editor hereby issue an expression of concern for the following articles:

Canonical Duality-Triality: Bridge between Nonconvex Analysis/Mechanics and Global Optimization in complex systems, David Y Gao, Ning Ruan, and Vittorio Latorre.

Canonical Dual Approach for Contact Mechanics Problems with Friction, Vittorio Latorre, Simone Sagratella, David Y Gao.

Canonical Duality Theory for Solving Non-Monotone Variational Inequality Problems, Guoshan Liu, David Y Gao, Shouyang Wang. Double Well Potential Function and Its Optimization in

The n-dimensional Real Space. Part I, Shu-Cherng Fang, David Y Gao, Gang-Xuan Lin, Ruey-Lin Sheu, Wen-Xun Xing.

Double Well Potential Function and Its Optimization in the n-dimensional Real Space. Part II, Yong Xia, Ruey-Lin Sheu, Shu-Cherng Fang, Wenxun Xing.

Analytic Solutions to 3-D Finite Deformation Problems Governed by St Venant-Kirchhoff Material, David Y Gao and E. Hajilarov.

Triality Theory and Complete Post-buckling Solutions of Large Deformed Beam by Canonical Dual Finite Element Method, Kun Cai, David Y Gao, Qinghua Qin.

Global Solutions to Spherically Constrained Quadratic Minimization via Canonical Duality Theory, Yi Chen, David Y Gao.

Unified Canonical Duality Methodology for Global Optimization, Vittorio Latorre, David Y Gao and N. Ruan.

A framework of canonical dual algorithms for global Optimization, Xiaojun Zhou, David Y Gao, Chunhua Yang.

Canonical Duality Theory for Solving Nonconvex/Discrete Constrained Global Optimization Problems, Ning Ruan, David Y Gao.

Global optimization solutions to a class of non-convex quadratic minimization problems with quadratic constraints, Yubo Yuan.

On Minimal Distance between Two Non-Convex Surfaces, Daniel Morales-Silva, David Y Gao.

We have recently been made aware of concerns regarding the peer review process on the Special Issue that these papers were due to appear in. The Guest Editor believes that the papers are sound but has agreed to have the papers re-reviewed by a new set of independent reviewers to verify this. The journal is committed to publishing ethical works of high integrity. This relies on all those involved behaving ethically. Authors, reviewers, editors and interested readers should consult the ethics section of SAGE and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) website for guidelines on publication ethics.

We contacted several of the corresponding authors on the papers, and none of them knew what the issues with the peer-review process were. For instance, Ruey-Lin Sheu, a mathematician at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan told us:

About two weeks ago, we also received a notice from the Journal saying that they are going to make the two papers reviewed again WITHOUT ANY REASON. That makes me furious. We have no idea, either, about what their publishing process or reviewing process has been gone wrong.

Gao told us that he does not object to SAGE’s decision:

As I said, I fully agreed with this decision, which is important for this special issue.

Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, and sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post. Click here to review our Comments Policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.