Researcher faked emails for co-authors, submitted paper without consent

A material science journal has retracted a paper after discovering that the first author faked email addresses for co-authors to submit the paper without their permission.

The journal, Materials, also discovered that the 2016 paper had plagiarized material from a 2013 paper previously published in Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A.

Here’s the retraction notice for the paper:

We have been made aware that the figures and experimental data of this article [1] are duplicated from another publication by Hardin et al. [2]. In addition, the first author Linfeng Sun submitted and published the manuscript without the knowledge of the other authors by fabricating contact email addresses.

MDPI is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics and takes the responsibility to enforce strict ethical policies and standards very seriously. To ensure the addition of only high quality scientific works to the field of scholarly publication, [1] is retracted and shall be marked accordingly. The article is retracted with the agreement of all authors. We apologize to the readership of Materials for any inconvenience caused.

The paper, “Porosity Defect Remodeling and Tensile Analysis of Cast Steel,” was originally published in February 2016 and has not been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. It was retracted in June, only months after publication.

When journals retract papers due to fabricated emails, it’s often because the author or authors are hoping to manipulate the peer review process, by reviewing their own papers. Here, however, first author Linfeng Sun from the Beijing Institute of Technology in China created fake emails to submit the paper in the first place and publish it without the co-authors’ consent.

Sun isn’t even the corresponding author on the paper — that person is Ridong Liao, also listed at the Beijing Institute of Technology. Liao’s contact information provided on the paper is a telephone number.

Co-author Wei Lu at the University of Michigan told us he was not aware of the paper before it was published:

I am not aware of the work described in this paper, and never received any manuscript of this paper from any of the authors. My name was added to this paper without my approval. I became aware of this paper a few months after its publication, after being contacted. I am glad the paper was retracted.

We contacted Sun, who told us:

About this retraction, I’ve given all needed information and my deepest apologies to the journal and the original author. So there is no more statement or additional information about the retraction.

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