Materials scientist up to five retractions as publishers investigate dozens of his papers

A materials scientist in Australia, by way of Iran, has recently had five papers retracted for duplicating his prior work, and the reader who brought the issue to publishers’ attention says it could affect some 100 articles.

Ali Nazari, now of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, was at Islamic Azad University in Iran when he published the five papers in Energy and Buildings, an Elsevier title, in 2010 and 2011. The retractions came sometime after January of this year, when an anonymous reader contacted Elsevier about dozens of Nazari’s papers.

A typical notice, for “Physical, mechanical and thermal properties of concrete in different curing media containing ZnO2 nanoparticles,” reads:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (https://www.elsevier.com/about/our-business/policies/article-withdrawal).

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

The article duplicates significant parts of a paper that had already appeared in Materials Science and Engineering: A, Volume 528, Issue 3, 2011, Pages 1183–1191, ISSN 0921-5093, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msea.2010.09.098. One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that the paper has not been previously published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. Re-use of any data should be appropriately cited. As such this article represents a misuse of the scientific publishing system. The scientific community takes a very strong view on this matter and apologies are offered to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process.

The five papers have been cited anywhere from 25 to 60 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

The reader also notified Springer Nature and SAGE of potential issues in Nazari’s work. An editor at SAGE responded to the reader:

We are investigating this situation and may be in touch again to request more information from you. If, following this investigation, it is deemed that the academic record should be altered, the journal and SAGE will take the appropriate action and the outcome will be available on the academic record for you and other readers to access.

Nazari, who did not respond to requests for comment from Retraction Watch, has also had three papers corrected in Materials and Science Engineering: A, also an Elsevier title. One, “Microstructural, thermal, physical and mechanical behavior of the self compacting concrete containing SiO2 nanoparticles,” seems to be for plagiarism, as best we can tell from the notice:

The authors of this paper must acknowledge Dr. Alireza Naji Givi and his co-authors and add their paper “Givi, A.N., Rashid, S.A., Aziz, F.N.A., & Salleh, M.A.M. (2010). Experimental investigation of the size effects of SiO2 nano-particles on the mechanical properties of binary blended concrete. Compos. Part B: Eng. 41(8), 673–677.” to the reference list.

Corresponding authors of our paper and Givi et al. paper have been colleagues before and had published energetically-based approach presented in these two papers in a printed version of a non-English magazine. Authors have not been aware of publishing this content by Givi et al. and just realized this similarity.

As the non-English magazine is not understood by many scientists around the world and is inaccessible, we must cite the paper which has published this approach first. Therefore, in Page 7670, where we state “In this paper, the strength enhancement under compression force has been investigated energetically.”, the paper of Givi et al. must be cited. We apologize for this problem and the long time it has taken for us to be aware of this issue.

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