Two papers retracted for plagiarizing a 50-year-old thesis

A math professor in Poland has lost two papers because she plagiarized a doctoral thesis written before the United States had put a man on the moon.

The articles by Daria Michalik, “The decomposition uniqueness for infinite Cartesian products” and “Some remarks on the uniqueness of decomposition into Cartesian product,” published in 2017 and 2016, respectively, were retracted this year from Topology and its Applications over concerns they closely resembled an unpublished 1968 dissertation from Polish topologist Zbigniew Furdzik: “On the properties of certain decompositions of topological spaces into Cartesian products.”

Michalik has associations with the Institute of Mathematics, the same institution with which Furdzik, now deceased, earned his PhD. As of August of 2023, she was a researcher at Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce, Poland. 

The retraction statements for both papers read:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editors-in-Chief after receiving a complaint about citation issues. The editors solicited further independent reviews which indicated that the statements in this paper substantially overlap with the PhD thesis of Z. Furdzik [O własnościach pewnych rozkładów przestrzeni topologicznych na iloczyny kartezjańskie, 1968 (unpublished, in Polish), Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw], without proper citation.

Elsevier received the complaint in June of 2023, according to a spokesperson, who did not say who had sent it. 

The 2016 paper was cited once – in Michalik’s 2017 paper, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science. In the citation, Michalik compares her work with Furdzik’s: 

This part of our work is contained in Section 4; here, the main result is Theorem 3, which was independently proved by the author and Furdzik

The 2017 paper has not been cited. 

Michalik hasn’t responded to our request for comment.

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