Five retractions for engineering duo in South Korea over duplication, fraudulent data

An engineering student in South Korea and a professor have retracted five papers from four different journals for reasons ranging from figure duplication to manipulated or fraudulent data.

Jae Hyo Park, who is pursuing his PhD, and Seung Ki Joo, a professor in the department of material science and engineering at Seoul National University in South Korea, appear on all five papers as first and last author, respectively.

According to an official at IOP Publishing, the retractions began when a third party contacted them last March about “potential misconduct” in a paper published earlier that year in one of its journals—Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics. The IOP official Simon Davies explained:

We were first notified by a third party in March 2016 of potential misconduct relating specifically to the first paper, “Ultimate multibit 1T-FeRAM with selectively nucleated grown single-grain PbZr0.52Ti0.48O3 for very-large-scale-integrated memory” (Jae Hyo Park et al 2016 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 49 075106). In accordance with our ethical policy, we investigated the claims and found the authors had duplicated figures from their previous publication, 2015 IEEE Electron Device Lett. 36 1033. We retracted this paper in August 2016.

Here’s the notice for “Ultimate multibit 1T-FeRAM with selectively nucleated grown singlegrain PbZr0.52Ti0.48O3 for very-large-scale integrated memory,” published in February 2016 and retracted in August:

It has come to the attention of IOP Publishing that this article should not have been submitted for publication due to inappropriate use of duplicated figures from an earlier-published paper (2015 IEEE Electron Device Lett. 36 1033).

Several months after the first paper was withdrawn, Davies said that the authors asked to retract a second article:

In November 2016, the authors requested the retraction of their other article, “Impact of an ultra-thin ZrTiO4 buffer layer for long retention characteristics of metal–ferroelectric–insulator–semiconductor capacitor” (Jae Hyo Park and Seung Ki Joo 2016 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 49 185104), for the same reason as the first. Once again, we investigated and the second article was retracted in March 2017, for the same reason as the first.

Here’s the next notice in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics for “Impact of an ultra-thin ZrTiO4 buffer layer for long retention characteristics of metal–ferroelectric– insulator–semiconductor capacitor:”

It has come to the attention of IOP Publishing that this article should not have been submitted for publication due to inappropriate use of duplicated figures from an earlier-published paper (2015 IEEE Electron Device Lett. 36 1033). Consequently, this paper has been retracted by IOP Publishing.

Finally, Davies told us that there might be more retractions to come from these authors:

The authors have informed us they have requested that several other journals publish retractions of their papers since this issue was first raised.

It’s possible those additional retractions have already appeared, as the authors requested retractions of three additional papers, one published in Scientific Reports, another in Applied Physics Letters, and the third in IEEE Electron Device Letters.

Here’s the notice for the 2015 paper “A Novel Metal-Ferroelectric-Insulator-Silicon FET With Selectively Nucleated Lateral Crystallized Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 and ZrTiO4 Buffer for Long Retention and Good Fatigue,” published in IEEE Electron Device Letters and cited six times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters:

IEEE Xplore® Document Removed: The document that should appear here has been removed due to fraudulent data that was included by the authors. Reasonable effort should be made to remove any references to this paper. We regret any inconvenience.

The editor-in-chief verified that the journal decided to retract the paper. The journal had already corrected it in 2016, citing “wrong information in the experiment section:”

In the above paper [1], there was some wrong information in the experiment section. Some of the thickness and processing temperature needs to be corrected. For corrections, the shallow trench isolation (STI) is 400-nm depth. The ZrTiO4 (ZTO) thickness is 2-nm. For the rapid thermal annealing (RTA), the temperature is 650 °C exposed for 1-sec and waited for 29 sec for cooling the RTA system. The source and drain doping was performed at 15 keV, not 17 keV.

Here’s the notice for “Integrating Epitaxial-Like Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 Thin-Film into Silicon for Next-Generation Ferroelectric Field-Effect Transistor” published in Scientific Reports in March 2016, then retracted in September 2016:

This Article has been retracted by the authors. The data presented in Figures 1e, 1g, 1h, 2b-d, 4a-b, 4d-e, 6a-b and 7a-b were manipulated and are duplicated in other papers1,2,3,4,5.

All authors acknowledge these issues and agree to the retraction of the Article.

Along with Park and Joo, middle authors Hyung Yoon Kim and Gil Su Jang also appeared on the first Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics retraction.

Here’s the notice for the 2016 paper “Sub-kT/q subthreshold slope p-metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors with single-grained Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 featuring a highly reliable negative capacitance”—cited 10 times and retracted in February—which details figure duplication and issues with the accuracy of the content:

The authors wish to retract the referenced article due to duplication of figures and significant overlap with other publications by the authors and because of concerns about the accuracy of the description of the devices and materials from which the reported results were obtained. The authors recognize that these represent serious errors and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience they may have caused.

Park and Joo also received a 2016 correction for figure-related errors in a paper published that same year in Applied Physics A, on which Joo is last author and Park is a middle author. Here’s the notice for “Progress of p-channel bottom-gate poly-Si thin-film transistor by nickel silicide seed-induced lateral crystallization:”

The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake. The presentation of Figs. 5 and 6 was incorrect. The correct Figs. 5 and 6 are given here. The original article was corrected.

We contacted Park and Joo, but did not hear back.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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