Journal retracts more than 400 papers at once

Ladies and gentlemen, we appear to have a new record.

The Journal of Fundamental and Applied Sciences (JFAS) recently retracted 434 articles from three issues of their journal. Yes, 434, giving it more retractions than any other journal ever, according to our records.

All of the articles, on topics ranging from “Effect of olive leaf extract on calcaeous deposit from sea” to “Optimization of mobile user data sharing on secure cloud,” have now been replaced with this notice:

This article was withdrawn and retracted by the Journal of Fundamental and Applied Sciences and has been removed from [African Journals Online] AJOL at the request of the journal Editor in Chief and the organisers of the conference at which the articles were presented (www.iccmit.net). Please address any queries to editor@jfas.info.

So we did. The journal’s editor in chief, Touhami Lanez, of the University of El Oued in Algeria, told us:

The retracted three issues were published based on an agreement between journal of fundamental and applied sciences and USAR “Universal Society for Applied Research” “www.usargroup.com“- scientific society in PRAHA, CZECH REPUBLIC, the published issues is from their ICCMIT’18 “www.iccmit.net

When the papers were published the journal was covered in ISI web of sciences, now and as the journal has been dropped from ISI Web of Science last June 2018. The USAR contacted me to withdraw the published papers because they plan to publish it in another ISI Web of Science index journals based on their agreement with the authors of these articles.

When it comes to tenure, promotion, and other incentives, of course, many institutions strongly prefer, or will only consider, Web of Science-indexed work. Lanez did not respond to a follow-up question about why the journal was delisted.

Nandita Quaderi, editor in chief of Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, told us that the journal was evaluated early last year

and found no longer to meet the quality criteria required for inclusion in [the Emerging Sources Citation Index] ESCI. A major cause for concern was the presence of a large volume of content published in supplemental issues that was not consistent with the stated scope of the journal. The Editor in Chief of the journal was notified of our concerns in detail by our editorial team ahead of any action, and in May 2018 we completed the evaluation and the journal was dropped from coverage.The last issue processed was vol.9 supplement 7/2017.

Any further action by the publisher of the journal or its editors is beyond Clarivate’s area of responsibility as we do not interfere with the editorial decisions or the publication policies of any publisher.

The JFAS’ withdrawal policy, we should note, is “coming up soon.”

The USAR did not respond to a request for comment.

This isn’t the first time in recent memory that a group of authors has been unhappy that a journal they published in was later delisted. That happened with Oncotarget last year.

And if you’re curious about other journals putting up big numbers, try the Journal of Biological Chemistry (274), Tumor Biology (159), and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (106). None of these numbers is normalized for total numbers of papers published by these journals, we note.

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6 thoughts on “Journal retracts more than 400 papers at once”

  1. This conference joins the long list of scientific outlets of which editorial committees seem to have a fundamental aspect ratio problem. In the absence of the memorable Beall’s List this proves a very good indicator of the predatory character.

  2. “A major cause for concern was the presence of a large volume of content published in supplemental issues that was not consistent with the stated scope of the journal.”

    So, one is left to wonder whether it is precisely the special issue of the “Universal Society for Applied Research” (seriously? that is their name?) and its quality (or lack thereof) that caused Clarivate to delist the journal? If so, then the same thing might happen with the next journal that they target …

    1. A large influx of conference proceedings certainly raised a red flag and caused the team at Web of Science to examine the journal more closely.
      Also we are surprised to see the assertion that the publisher plans to “publish it in another ISI Web of Science index journals”. (sic)

      Retraction in academic publishing is for the purpose of identifying an item that is invalid in its content for reasons of error, fraud, or ethical violations that compromise the use of the item as a source of knowledge. The care taken in vetting publications for inclusion in the Web of Science ensures that our users can take confidence in the quality of the publications and studies they discover and rely upon in their research. You can read more about our standards and selectivity here: https://clarivate.com/blog/science-research-connect/standards-selectivity-enduring-mission/.

  3. This is a big bulk of retractions, but not as large as IEEE’s 2014 retraction of 1000s of conference articles; the largest was the International Conference on E-Business and E-Government (ICEE) with 1,281 retractions: https://retractionwatch.com/2015/06/25/one-publisher-appears-to-have-retracted-thousands-of-meeting-abstracts-yes-thousands/#comment-558143. I think it’s interesting that both of these bulk retractions, by JFAS and IEEE, were of conference articles.

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