Caught stealing a manuscript, author blames a dead colleague

William Faulkner

As William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Farzad Kiani learned that lesson the hard way.

Kiani, of Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, was the “author” of a 2018 review article in Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing titled “A survey on management frameworks and open challenges in IoT.” According to the abstract:

In this paper, we compare all of the efforts in the last five years in addressing issues of IoT management that involves security service provisioning, fault tolerance, energy management, and load balancing. We also discuss future research directions that evolved from our detailed survey and taxonomy of the Software-Defined IoT (SDIoT) management frameworks.

Note that Kiani used the plural to describe the work, even though he’s the only named author. That might have been a tell to the journal that something was amiss. Which it was.

Per the retraction notice:

Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing has retracted the article titled “A Survey on Management Frameworks and Open Challenges in IoT” [1]. The article was found to not belong to the author, Dr. Farzad Kiani. Other researchers, Sufian Hameed and Faraz Idris, say the research is theirs and was published without their knowledge or permission.

Dr. Kiani said he had received the article in good faith from a now-deceased colleague, he did not intend to violate anyone’s rights, he sincerely apologizes to the researchers, and he agreed to retraction.

What to make of all this sound and fury? Is Kiani accusing his dead colleague of having plagiarized from — or at least cut out of a publication — Hameed and Idris? (We tried to reach Hameed, but didn’t get a reply.) Or is he admitting to having cooked up a Snopesian tale to disguise the fact that he put his own name on Hameed and Idris’ work and got busted?

Then again, perhaps Kiani, who did not respond to a request for comment, was merely trying to model himself after what Old Bill, aka Faulkner, once said in regards to intellectual self-confidence:

I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.

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4 thoughts on “Caught stealing a manuscript, author blames a dead colleague”

  1. Using “we” as a sole author shouldn’t be held out as a sign of potential misconduct. I had submitted a manuscript as sole author to a journal published by Oxford University Press. Normally I avoid passive voice but used it frequently in that paper to avoid saying “I” throughout. While correct it’s distracting. The copy editor at OUP recommended “we” instead, and I made that change. The more direct language is better, and I really don’t think anyone reading the paper assumes I’m royalty or that I have imaginary co-authors.

    1. Agreed. Use of “we” has become convention even for single authors. Not sure why, but that’s how it is. We scientists are so demure.

  2. It’s also worth pointing out that, by his own admission, he put his name on *someone* else’s work. Stating he “had received the article in good faith from a now-deceased colleague” is still admitting to plagiarism!

  3. “Note that Kiani used the plural to describe the work, even though he’s the only named author. That might have been a tell to the journal that something was amiss. Which it was.”

    This is a misleading statement and generally an incorrect deduction. For technical writing in the mathematical sciences, the “royal we” is standard. Another way to look at it that refers to “the reader and I.” For example: “we now substitute eq. (1) into eq. (2) to obtain …”. As the reader is expected to follow along and perform the steps in the derivation previously performed by the author(s).

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