Journal retracts groundwater pollution paper for plagiarism

ecotoxThe journal Ecotoxicology has retracted a paper that described a way to analyze nitrates in groundwater after discovering the authors had lifted a substantial amount of material from three other papers.

Here is the retraction notice for “Isotopic analysis of N and O in NO3 – by selective bacterial reduction to N2O for groundwater pollution:”

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief. The article was examined following the COPE guidelines with regard to suspected plagiarism. The article was found to contain a substantial amount of material, without proper referencing, from the previously published articles entitled:

Böhlke JK, Smith RL, Hannon JE (2007) Isotopic analysis of N and O in nitrite and nitrate by sequential selective bacterial reduction to N2O. Anal Chem 79(15):5888–5895. doi:10.1021/ac070176k

Granger J, Sigman DM, Prokopenko MG, Lehmann MF, Tortell PD (2006) A method for nitrite removal in nitrate N and O isotope analyses. Limnol Oceanogr Methods 4(7): 205–212. doi:10.4319/lom.2006.4.205

Sigman DM, Casciotti KL, Andreani M, Barford C, Galanter M, Böhlke JK (2001) A bacterial method for the nitrogen isotopic analysis of nitrate in seawater and freshwater. Anal Chem 73(17):4145–4153. doi:10.1021/ ac010088e

The 2014 paper has not been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

We reached out to the Editor-in-Chief of Ecotoxicology, asking about the extent of the overlap between the articles, and whether the journal had run the retracted paper through a plagiarism checker before publication. We got a response from Renate Bayaz, Director of Press and Publicity for Springer Publications. She referred to the retraction notice and declined to comment further.

We also contacted corresponding author Jingjing Fang, listed on the paper as affiliated with China University of Geosciences.

JK Böhlke at the U.S. Geological Survey, an author of two of the papers that were plagiarized, told us the retraction was instigated by one of his colleagues:

I’m happy to see the editors took some action on this paper, which was challenged by Karen Casciotti, who was involved in some of the original studies.

We also reached out to Karen Casciotti, associate professor Earth System Science at Stanford University. We will update this post with anything else we learn.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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One thought on “Journal retracts groundwater pollution paper for plagiarism”

  1. Is it a text or a data plagiarism? It looks like the title of the retracted article is very close to one of the source.

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