Journal retracts paper listed on authorship for sale site following Retraction Watch report

An Elsevier journal has retracted a paper that was listed by a firm claiming to sell authorships months after we reported on the site.

On Sept. 7, 2021, we published a story about the company, Teziran. On Sept. 14, pseudonymous sleuth Artemisia Stricta wrote to Ioannis Ieropoulos, the editor of Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, which had published one of eight papers listed by Teziran as “ready for acceptance”:

As you may be aware, Retraction Watch (Cc’ed) recently  published an article documenting how the site Teziran sold authorship on accepted papers (or at least ones that they considered ready to accept). Based on a cached version of the site, it appears that authorship on this article was listed for sale (see also the associated PubPeer posting). As I am sure you will agree, the listing of authorship for sale is a major red flag, and, in many cases, is accompanied by outright falsification of the article for scalability of authorship sales.

Ieropoulos wrote back the same day:

Thank you for your email. I can assure you that this manuscript is already under investigation, in accordance with our Journal policy. The Authors have been contacted and the appropriate steps are being taken to reach a definitive conclusion.

Artemisia Stricta followed up in March, at which point Ieropoulos wrote:

The decision for this manuscript has been taken and the Ethics Team are on the case to take the appropriate action. Things have been slower than anticipated, not least because of Covid, but this case will be soon closed.

The paper was retracted sometime thereafter, probably earlier this month, although Elsevier’s tendency to overwrite HTML pages of retracted articles without adding new dates or DOIs means it’s impossible to tell, and that the metadata suggest, erroneously, that the papers were retracted at the same time they were published. Here’s the notice, which repeats its first line:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (https://www.elsevier.com/about/our-business/policies/article-withdrawal).

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (https://www.elsevier.com/about/our-business/policies/article-withdrawal).

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief. Concern has been raised about adding co-authors at revision stage without the permission of the editor, nor the explicit permission of the original co-authors. The names of the authors Danial Sedghiyan, Arezoo Ashouri and Negin Maftouni were added to the revised version of the article, while the Authors of the original submission were Esmaeil Rezaei (originally listed as first Author; subsequently only as contributing Data Curation), Qingang Xiong and Sadegh Sadeghi.

The problems with the identity and the contribution of the authors to the article cast doubt on the data, and accordingly also the conclusions based on that data, in this publication. Changing authors after submission without permission from the Editor is against the journal policy as it is stated in the Guide for Authors (https://www.elsevier.com/journals/sustainable-energy-technologies-and-assessments/2213-1388/guide-for-authors). Consequently, the Editor decided to retract the paper.

As such this article represents an abuse 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.

Xiong, one of the original authors of the paper, said he agreed with the retraction but had no further comment.

In the meantime, the paper was cited 17 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, earning it a “highly cited paper” designation.

Separately, Emerald has slapped an expression of concern on another paper by Xiong and colleagues, “Mathematical modeling of the production of magnetic nanoparticles through counter-flow non-premixed combustion for biomedical applications,” that was listed on the Teziran site. It reads:

The publisher of the International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow is issuing an Expression of Concern for the following article: Akbari, S., Hasanvand, N., Sadeghi, S., Bidabadi, M. and Xiong, Q. (2021), “Mathematical modeling of the production of magnetic nanoparticles through counter-flow non-premixed combustion for biomedical applications”, International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow, Vol. 31 No. 8, pp. 2436-2461, to inform readers that concerns have been raised regarding the authorship of this paper. An investigation is ongoing and is currently unresolved. Further information will be provided by International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow as it becomes available.

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7 thoughts on “Journal retracts paper listed on authorship for sale site following Retraction Watch report”

  1. I personaly wonder how could these repeat offenders keep on doing their shenanigans without any tangible actions being taken against them ? Obviously , they do not have any idea of what shame means but what is the scientific community doing practically to show them as what they are : thieves , crroks , lawless persons , etc….

    1. I would also ask exactly the same question to the institutions that these people purport to be affiliated with…

        1. “the Chinese government appears to be investigating some cases of academic misconduct”

          Or a small under-funded group of people within the Chinese govt. make the best of their limited resources by reading PubPeer.

  2. “In the meantime, the paper was cited 17 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, earning it a “highly cited paper” designation.”

    Those citing papers should probably be investigated as well. Paper-mills often cite their own earlier fakes in later submissions.

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