Authors whose Springer Nature book was retracted for plagiarism solicit chapters for another

Photo by Bilal Kamoon via flickr

If you had a book retracted for plagiarism, would you submit a book proposal to the same publisher? And if you were that publisher, would you entertain said pitch?

These, dear reader, are not idle questions.

In 2019, we reported that Springer Nature had retracted a 2017 textbook on tropical deciduous forests by J. S. Singh and R.K. Chaturvedi because it had plagiarized the work of others. So we – as well as those whose work had been plagiarized – were surprised to see Chaturvedi on ResearchGate inviting researchers to contribute chapters for an “Accepted Springer Book Proposal Idea on ‘Plant Strategies’” that he and Singh were editing. (That’s a Wayback Machine link, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.)

Turns out we weren’t the only ones with questions.

A Springer Nature spokesperson told us that the authors were misrepresenting their proposal as “accepted:”

The authors had submitted a lead for a book about plant strategies. The book proposal, however, was rejected and no contract has been signed. This decision is in no way related to a previous retraction of a book from the same authors. Generally, a retracted book doesn’t necessarily prevent any author not to publish another book, and a new proposal is evaluated on its own merits.

Charturvedi tried to tell us – while asking us to not to write about the episode – that his Research Gate post “is not regarding to the acceptance of Book proposal:”

If you see carefully, it is just about the ‘book idea’. Let me tell you the whole story. Initially, I got a kind of invitation from Springer, that I can consider Springer publications for my upcoming Book, and may share my book idea. So, I uploaded my book idea with other details, and after a few days, I received one email from Aakanksha Tyagi to submit a formal proposal. Therefore, I thought that Springer is interested in my book idea, and that’s why they approached me for further proceedings. So, just to collect the book titles from collaborators, I uploaded this notice on my ResearchGate profile. It is clearly written that ‘Springer is interested in my ‘Book Idea’, not has accepted book proposal. After that, when timeline was over, I also posted that now the invitation is closed. This all, I cleared to Aakanksha Tyagi, so why making it a big issue.

Following our inquiries last week, however, Tyagi emailed Chaturvedi to say he shouldn’t be announcing the project on ResearchGate. Chaturvedi removed the page sometime thereafter:

If it was wrong, it was just because of ignorance. Sorry for this.

Not to worry, Chaturvedi and colleagues already have a plan for a new title:

Now we are finalizing this proposal so the chapter invitation is closed, however, we have started another similar project, “Plant Resilience to Human-Induced Changes: A functional Approach”. So, interested people can contribute to this project. Details will be uploaded soon.

Any publishers out there interested?

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5 thoughts on “Authors whose Springer Nature book was retracted for plagiarism solicit chapters for another”

  1. RW should anonymize the names of staff at the Publisher. Its very unprofessional and could hurt the people’s careers unnecessarily.
    In fact, an apology from RW is expected here.

  2. “Generally, a retracted book doesn’t necessarily prevent any author not to publish another book, and a new proposal is evaluated on its own merits.”

    That might sound like Springer Nature being “fair,” but I think having a book retracted for plagiarism absolutely should be part of the evaluation of further proposals. I think this fake “fairness” is a significant contributor to the problem of fake, plagiarised, and fraudulent research publications.

    If authors know that even getting caught in fraud or plagiarism once in a while does not affect the chances of their other writings to be accepted, they can just keep submitting large quantities of manuscripts. Some might be retracted later on, but if there are no consequences to getting caught, a few retractions are not really a big problem for them.

    1. I once pointed out to a Springer Nature employee that an editor not responding to concerns raised directly via e-mail is against COPE guidelines.

      The response was, “These are guidelines and not mandates.”

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