Who wrote this chem paper? Author claims her name was removed without consent

Spectrochimica ActaA researcher is claiming that her former PhD students impersonated her to remove her name as a co-author on a 2015 study.   

According to an editor’s note, published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, the journal received confirmation from all three authors that the aforementioned researcher should be removed from the author list during proofing stage. However, the researcher whose name was omitted — Nahid Nishat of the Jamia Millia Islamia in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, India — later contacted the journal claiming that she didn’t okay this move.  

Nishat told Retraction Watch that she believes the two listed authors on the paper wrote to the journal on her behalf to remove her name: 

These two [research] fellows had [sent] this manuscript from my mail and they changed the password. Then they had written the letter to the editor and publisher from my false Email ID from my side as…prof. Nahid Nishat, [saying] that I had no contribution in this paper.

Here’s the (paywalled) editor’s note:

This is an editor’s note related to the publication ‘Biologically active and thermally stable polymeric Schiff base and its metal polychelates: Their synthesis and spectral aspects’ by Raza Rasool and Sumaiya Hasnain, which appeared in Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy 148 (2015) 435–443.

There is concern about a dispute of authorship of the above publication brought about by Prof. Nahid Nishat of the Materials Research Lab, Dept. of Chemistry, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India. Her name was removed during the proofing stage with agreement of all authors. Afterwards the journal was contacted by Prof. Nishat stating that this confirmation was not sent by her. We have tried to reach an agreement between the authors, however, no response from Prof. Nishat regarding our proposal to add her back to the author list was received. The same proposal was accepted by Sumaiya Hasnain and rejected by Raza Rasool.

Under the present circumstances we cannot faithfully determine who should be the authors of the publication and no agreement was reached between the authors on this question. Hence we would like to inform the readership about this situation with this permanent note associated with the article.

Biologically active and thermally stable polymeric Schiff base and its metal polychelates: Their synthesis and spectral aspects” has been cited once since 2015, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.

Nishat told us:

…this paper is taken from the Ph.D thesis of Raza Rasool, and he has done Ph.D under my supervision.

In addition to Rasool, Nishat also supervised the paper’s other author, Sumaiya Hasnain, during her PhD, she noted. Nishat added:

The journal had contacted me, they have raised certain questions and I answered all [of them]. But in the mean time, they had disconnected my conversation and publish[ed] this paper.

We’ve reached out to Rasool, now a research fellow at Jamia Millia Islamia, according to his LinkedIn page.

We’ve also contacted Hasnain for a comment, and will update the post with anything else we learn.

Occasionally we see instances where researchers impersonate each other — often it relates to attempts to submit fake reviews in favor of a study, but sometimes authors submit fake emails to create co-authors’ consent to submit a paper, for example.

Hat tip: Marco

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