Authors suspended as duplications sink papers on ship building

Computational Materials Science

A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of Galati in Romania were suspended after duplicating work in their papers on materials used to build ships, earning them four retractions last year, and one the year before.

According to Romanian newspaper Impact Est, in December an ethics committee found that co-authors Ionel Chirica and Elena-Felicia Beznea committed “a number of breaches of ethics,” including self-plagiarism. Both received two-year suspensions from holding certain research positions.

These aren’t the only problems Chirica has faced: In 2013, he resigned from his position as the director of the Doctoral School of Engineering, according to Impact Estfor reasons that are unclear. In 2012, he also lost two additional papers on which he is the sole author.

Last fall, Computational Materials Science retracted four papers by Chirica and Beznea, publishing almost identical notices. We’ll start with the one for “Response of ship hull laminated plates to close proximity blast loads:”

It has come to our attention that there is very substantial duplication of text and content between this Computational Materials Science article and an earlier paper by the same authors in “Advances in Marine Structures“, Edited by W . Fricke, CRC Press 2011, page 343, Print ISBN: 978-0-415-67771-4 and eBook ISBN: 978-0-203-80811-5. One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that their work is original and has not appeared in a publication elsewhere. Re-use of any data should be appropriately cited. As such this article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system. The scientific community takes a very strong view on this matter and apologies are offered to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process.

The paper was published in 2012 and has been cited seven times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

Next up are the other three papers pulled from Computational Materials Science last fall. The retraction notices for these are almost the same as the one above, but the work that was duplicated is different in each case:

The editor of Computation Materials Science, Susan Sinnott, told us:

We are not aware of any other problems with the papers other than those outlined in the retraction notices attached to the papers. We are thankful to an attentive reader for bringing the duplication to our attention.

We’ve also found a fifth retraction for Chirica and Beznea that appeared in Mathematical Problems in Engineering in 2014.  The notice explains that the paper “A Numerical Model for Torsion Analysis of Composite Ship Hulls” duplicates from one of the papers retracted from Computational Materials Science last year, as well as a couple other papers:

This article has been retracted as it is found to contain a substantial amount of materials from the previously published papers: (1) Ionel Chirica, Sorin Dumitru Musat, Raluca Chirica, and Elena-Felicia Beznea, “Torsional behaviour of the ship hull composite model,” Comput. Mater. Sci., Vol. 50, pp. 1381-1386, 2011; (2) Ion Raluca, Musat Sorin Dumitru, Chirica Ionel, Boazu Doina, and Beznea Elena Felicia, “Torsion analysis of ship hull made of composite materials,” Materiale Plastice, Vol. 47, Issue 3, pp. 364-369, 2010; (3) Ion Raluca, Musat Sorin Dumitru, Chirica Ionel, Boazu Doina, and Beznea Elena-Felicia, “Torsional analysis of ship hull model,” The Annals of University “Dunarea De Jos” of Galati, Fascicle VIII, 2009 (XV), ISSN 1221-4590, Issue 2, Tribology.

The 2012 paper has been cited three times.

In 2012, Chirica lost two other articles on which he is the sole author — “Torsion dynamic behavior of the ship hull made of composite material,” published in Computational Materials Science, and “Macroelement model used for torsion dynamic behavior of the composite ship hull” published in Composites Part B: Engineering. Both have the same note:

This article has been withdrawn at the request of the author(s) and/or editor. The Publisher apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.

Those articles are not indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science since they were withdrawn while in press.

We have reached out to Chirica, Beznea, and the University for more information. We’ve also contacted Doina Boazu, a co-author on one of the retracted articles. We will update this post with anything else we learn.

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