Yesterday we reported that Elsevier journals had pulled three papers by a computer scientist with an impressive publication record. The publisher has since informed us that it plans to pull six more, again citing duplication and manipulation of the peer-review process.
Shahaboddin Shamshirband at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s record will be down by a total of nine papers once the publisher issues the additional notices. We also found evidence that an additional paper was removed by a journal, but haven’t confirmed if that’s a retraction.
One of Shamshirband’s co-authors has objected to one of the retractions Elsevier has already issued for faked reviews, arguing the reviewers were PhD students without institutional email addresses. A spokesperson for Elsevier told us:
In accordance with our policy of offering authors due process, the authors’ explanations were fully considered but were not deemed satisfactory, hence the retractions.
That co-author, Dalibor Petković at the University of Niš in Serbia, is also listed on five of the six upcoming retractions.
We’ve asked Petković to comment on the upcoming retractions.
An aside: We reported yesterday that Shamshirband had published more than 200 papers, despite only getting his PhD in 2014, based on his online CV. That information has since been removed.
The Elsevier spokesperson told us:
We can confirm that the following papers in which Dr Shamshirband is an author will also be retracted shortly because of duplication and/or peer-review manipulation.
Here are those papers:
- “Estimation of the effect of catalyst physical characteristics on Fenton-like oxidation efficiency using adaptive neuro-fuzzy computing technique,” published January 2015 by Measurement. Cited 10 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.
- “Estimating unconfined compressive strength of cockle shell–cement–sand mixtures using soft computing methodologies,” published September 2015 in Engineering Structures. Cited 10 times.
- “Wind turbine power coefficient estimation by soft computing methodologies: Comparative study,” published May 2014 in Energy Conversion and Management. Cited 30 times.
- “Generalized adaptive neuro-fuzzy based method for wind speed distribution prediction,” published June 2015 in Flow Measurement and Instrumentation. Cited six times.
- “Trend detection of wind speed probability distribution by adaptive neuro-fuzzy methodology,” published October 2015 in Flow Measurement and Instrumentation. Cited twice.
- “Estimation of wind turbine wake effect by adaptive neuro-fuzzy approach,” published October 2015 in Flow Measurement and Instrumentation. Not cited.
On five out of the six papers, Shamshirband is listed as one of the corresponding authors.
Another corresponding author on the first paper listed above — Abdul Aziz Abdul Raman, also at the University of Malaya — told us he had been in contact with the journal, which told him it suspected the peer-review process had been manipulated (he added the emphasis):
The co-authors and myself are aware of the process. The process started with a letter on behalf of retraction committee from Mihail L. Grecea (Expert in Publishing Ethics, Elsevier) on 8th November 2016. Myself as the representative of the co-authors except for Dr. Shamshirband has been in communication and collaborating with Mihail L. Grecea. Dr. Shamshirband was copied in all the communication for his information…Dr. Shamshirband did the initial submission upon my approval as the head of the collaborative work between my team and Dr. Shamshirband. Upon the conditional acceptance of the paper, I was added in as the corresponding author. The Journal provided me the reasons where the proposed reviewers by Dr. Shamshirband could not be traced from the emails and affiliations provided (all are Gmail addressees and none carries the institutional emails.). So there is suspicion that the review process was manipulated. Dr. Shamshirband would not take sole responsibility for the issue.
He added that he agreed with the retraction, even though he believes the findings are valid:
Myself and two other co-authors (Shima and Wan Ashri) are agreeable for the retraction, as we could not trace the reviewer identity provided by Dr. Shamshirband. The paper is written with high impact research data and we are saddened by the fact that this high quality work will be retracted. However based on publication integrity we are agreeable for the paper to be retracted. My team went through the journal review system religiously and was under the impression that the peer-review system has been quality controlled and monitored by the Journal. I hope the Journal will do the due-diligence on proposed reviewers to protect unsuspecting collaborators like us.
We’ve contacted any additional corresponding authors listed on each paper, and will update if we get a response.
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