Psychology professor earns retractions after publishing with ‘repeat offenders’

Kelly-Ann Allen

A psychologist in Australia has earned a pair of retractions after publishing several papers with international coauthors suspected of authorship fraud, Retraction Watch has learned. 

Kelly-Ann Allen, an associate professor at Monash University, in Clayton, and editor-in-chief of two psychology journals, declined to comment for this article.

The retraction notices, both in Frontiers journals, cite an investigation by the publisher confirming “a serious breach of our authorship policies and of publication ethics.”

Frontiers pulled “Intolerance of uncertainty scale-12: psychometric properties of this construct among Iranian undergraduate students” on November 27 and “Psychometric assessment of the Persian translation of the interpersonal mindfulness scale with undergraduate students” on September 4. The latter was one of more than three dozen papers the publisher has linked to “the unethical practice of buying or selling authorship,” as we reported at the time. 

The articles have been cited 21 times.

Nick Wise, a scientific sleuth, told Retraction Watch he had reported the former paper to Frontiers in October 2022 “due to suspicions about authorship.” 

“The cause of my suspicion was the diversity of nations and disciplines amongst the authors, and the presence of repeat offenders for buying authorship in Wanich Suksatan, Indrajit Patra and Supat Chupradit,” Wise said.

All three individuals have had papers pulled in the past over concerns about authorship, according to the Retraction Watch database. Those retractions happened after the two papers published by Frontiers were submitted.

Suksatan and Chupradit have been suspected of buying authorship of research papers to boost their resumés, as have others of Allen’s coauthors

Wise even found a Facebook post advertising authorship for sale for a paper that looked very similar to the article that was pulled on September 4. The ad was posted by Salim Kallel, about whom we have written before and whose Facebook profile includes frequent “calls for coauthorship.”

“Wonderful opportunity to publish a paper in Scopus or Web of Science in collaboration with the authors from all over the world,” Kallel promised in one post on December 5.

Abbas Abdollahi of Alzahra University in Tehran, Iran, who is a corresponding author on the two retracted papers, did not respond to an email asking for comment. 

Allen has published multiple papers with Abdollahi. Starting in 2022, however, academics from several other countries – including Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia – started appearing as coauthors on Abdollahi and Allen’s papers, Wise said. 

He listed four such publications, in addition to those now retracted:

“I contacted Kelly-Ann Allen in January 2023 because I was surprised to see her name on a paper with Wanich Suksatan, Supat Chupradit and Indrajit Patra, given their history of being authors of works where authorship has been advertised for sale on Facebook,” Wise said. “She said that she’d done a lot of work for the paper and trusted Abbas Abdollahi whom she had worked with before.”

Anastasia Long, head of communications at Frontiers, told us in an email:

The retraction decision was a result of a thorough investigation by the Frontiers’ Research Integrity team. The concerns over ‘authorship for sale’ were flagged post-publication both directly to us by concerned readers, as well as via Pubpeer, a valuable source of community feedback, of the adverts for several of the publications in question. Subsequently, our Research Integrity and Auditing teams investigated dozens more papers spanning 24 journals, and looked at patterns in behavior, editorial assignment, peer review and citations. 

For the two articles you mention, several authors were added post-acceptance with claims of their significant contribution to the research. The presence of adverts selling authorship, the lack of expertise of some authors with regards to the subject matter of the articles, and broad geographical diversity of the contributors – with lack of prior collaboration, were key points of the investigation. One author also contacted us to claim that their name had been added to the article without their consent. Taken together, the evidence confirmed a breach of our authorship policies and of publication ethics, resulting in retractions. 

Frontiers’ priority is to protect the scientific record, while upholding the highest ethical standards and rigor, and we are confident in our decision. Moreover, to help prevent cases of “authorship-for-sale” among its research publications, Frontiers published a new author policy and you can learn more about it in our blog post.

As we reported earlier, the new policy states the publisher will deny authorship changes requested after acceptance as a rule.

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4 thoughts on “Psychology professor earns retractions after publishing with ‘repeat offenders’”

  1. As a Frontier editor, I was repeatedly approached by authors who wanted me to hop on their papers last minute to get them a free pub with editor discount. One was rebuffed by me, became quite nasty and then went and found himself another editor and submitted. I warned the Frontiers this is happening and of the need to monitor (back in 2018).

  2. One might suspect this might just be a tip of the iceberg for her, looking at her recent publication record. She has tons of publications (50+ just in 2023 on an inexplicably diverse range of topics, which is amazing for an associate professor), but only a few seem to be in her actual area of interest.

    A 2023 biography-ish article lists her as author no. 3 of numerous co-authors (with her gmail address listed instead of her institutional email that she usually seems to use for her articles) and the co-authors represent several continents. Several authors on that article list gmail addresses, and some don’t seem to have any disciplinary connections to the person the article is honoring. It just makes little sense to me.

    I hope somebody will run a thorough investigation on her case because her impressive productivity only appears to have happened in the last few years, and her productivity was entirely “normal” before that (e.g., two publications in 2015, of which she was the primary author on just one).

  3. I’m just befuddled by the brazenness these people have .It is just mind boggling !! Aren’t ashamed their name is for everybody to see ? This results from the punishment is not harsh enough. If it were up to me, jail would be their final stop !!

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