Elsevier withdraws plagiarized paper after original author calls journal out on LinkedIn

Sasan Sadrizadeh

In late May, one of Sasan Sadrizadeh’s doctoral students stumbled upon a paper with data directly plagiarized from his previous work. 

Sadrizadeh, a researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, was the last author on “Supply-demand side management of a building energy system driven by solar and biomass in Stockholm: A smart integration with minimal cost and emission,” published in September 2023 in Energy Conversion and Management.

The paper with matching data, “Optimizing smart building energy systems for sustainable living: A realistic approach to enhance renewable energy consumfaption [sic] and reduce emissions in residential buildings,” appeared online as an “article in press” in Elsevier’s Energy and Buildings in May. 

Sadrizadeh told us the methodology reported in the article was “so amusing that I felt compelled to share it” on LinkedIn. In his post, Sadrizadeh calls out “unique Stockholm data magically transformed into an Iraq case study, courtesy of 16 authors from six different countries!” He also included the following picture of data presented in the two papers: 

The left image is from Sadrizadeh’s paper, while the right is from the article in Energy and Buildings

The lead author of the May study, Qusay Hassan, is a researcher at the University of Diyala in Baqubah, Iraq. He did not respond to our requests for comment.

Jianlei Niu, the editor-in-chief of Energy and Buildings, saw Sadrizadeh’s LinkedIn post calling out the similarities in data and reached out to him, Sadrizadeh told Retraction Watch. The paper was later withdrawn. Niu forwarded our request for comment to the publisher’s ethics team, which did not respond to our emails. 

The withdrawal statement from the journal reads:

This article has been withdrawn by the editor. The journal concluded that there were possible duplicates/manipulations in Figures 2, 5, 6, 11, 15, and 16 with the published article, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enconman.2023.117420. The explanation provided by the author was not able to resolve these issues. The article has therefore been withdrawn. The Publisher apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.

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28 thoughts on “Elsevier withdraws plagiarized paper after original author calls journal out on LinkedIn”

  1. From the Pubpeer of the lead author, Hassan Qusay:
    https://pubpeer.com/search?q=Qusay+Hassan

    several of his articles are discussed for the same pattern.

    For instance the modelling results presented in Figure 6, 7, 8, and 9., of the article “Implement and evaluate resilient energy infrastructures capable of withstanding spatial, temporal, and annual weather fluctuations in Saudi Arabia by 2050” in fact, are copied from following article.

    Zeyringer, M., Price, J., Fais, B. et al. Designing low-carbon power systems for Great Britain in 2050 that are robust to the spatiotemporal and inter-annual variability of weather. Nat Energy 3, 395–403 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-018-0128-x
    See Pubpeer for further detail:
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/2A0FBCFD3DA45AAE55FAD03058B13C

    or the article “Mapping Europe renewable energy landscape: Insights into solar, wind, hydro, and green hydrogen production”

    copied from:
    “Kakoulaki, Georgia, et al. “Green hydrogen in Europe–A regional assessment: Substituting existing production with electrolysis powered by renewables.” Energy conversion and management 228 (2021): 113649.” https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enconman.2020.113649

    Further details here: https://pubpeer.com/publications/E0BFF5F22D5815459AF4987E22E7E9

    1. Checking again, I observe that the 16 “co-authors” are from 6 countries, i.e., Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Russia, Hungary, and Uzbekistan. I wonder how these authors get to work together.

  2. If editors check the concepts instead of solely relaying on similarity checks many of these plagiarisms will be prevented. Also using new tools to detect the figure duplication helps a lot to filter out these bad practices.
    I can see that Hassan Qusay has an article titled: “The renewable energy role in the global energy Transformations” reported in Pubpeer: https://pubpeer.com/publications/80503316061CCA6CA6F7D8B8F77554
    which is identical to this article: Dolf Gielen et al., “The role of renewable energy in the global energy transformation” Energy Strategy Reviews: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esr.2019.01.006
    These two articles have very similar title and share many identical figures in Elsevier. It is surprising how publisher cannot see these red flags.

    1. Two authors plagiarized my article: Can you help me with this?

      My article entitled “Domestic Wastewater Treatment and Energy Harvesting by Serpentine Upflow MFCs Equipped with PVDF-Based Activated Carbon Air-Cathodes and a Low Voltage Booster” (DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2019.122443) has been plagiarized by the article “Application of Microbial Fuel Cell and High Voltage Booster in the Dual Cathode Electro-Fenton Treatment of RO16 Dye” (DOI: 10.1016/j.jics.2024.101152) published in your journal.
      I have carefully reviewed both articles and found that the authors have copied substantial portions of text, and ideas from my work without proper attribution. The plagiarized sections include the Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion, and key conceptual elements such as the use of a Low Voltage Booster (LVB) in microbial fuel cell technology, which I developed and published earlier in 2019.
      To substantiate my claim, I have attached copies of both articles with the plagiarized sections highlighted. I have also included a plagiarized report, supplementary evidence demonstrating the originality of my work, and the plagiarism of the authors who published in the Journal of the Indian Chemical Society (JICS)

      Until now, the JICS where they plagiarized the published article did not react to my email. Can you help me to retract this fraudulent article?

  3. The original dataset includes 100 residential apartments in Stockholm. It appears as if Qusay Hassan and his team refurbished the original article and pretended that these buildings are located in Iraq. It would be wise from the other Elsevier’s journals whom published Qusay Hassan’s flagged articles to examine these articles.

  4. Elsevier or it’s editorial has no system to flag the duplicated figures? So anyone can reuse other articles’ figures?

    1. As the article was in still in the Press and not yet received volume and issue number, at this stage is withdrawn.
      I noticed that the withdrawn article has an extensive number of 16 co-authors from 6 countries, this is extensive and could have been considered as a red flag.
      Coauthors are:
      Qusay Hassan, Nadia Sarhan, Emad Mahrous Awwad, Tariq J. Al-Musawi, Nouby M. Ghazaly, Patrik Viktor, Monika Fodor, Amjad Iqbal, Sergey Zhiltsov, Azamat Makhmudov, Ali Khudhair Al-Jiboory, Ihssan Alrekabi, Sameer Algburi, Marek Jaszczur, Aws Zuhair Sameen, Maha Barakat

      1. From the authors list I can spot other recent retraction in Elsevier also due to image manipulation:
        “RETRACTED: Quercetin modulates expression of serum exosomal long noncoding RNA NEAT1 to regulate the miR-129-5p/BDNF axis and attenuate cognitive impairment in diabetic mice”
        https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024320524000389

        Adapting a reliable tool by the publishers to flag the figure manipulation/duplication prior to publication is essential.

  5. The withdrawal statement from the journal reads:
    “The explanation provided by the author was not able to resolve these issues.”
    But why editor did not ask other 15 coauthors, and only asks one author?
    Did other 15 coauthors agreed or disagreed with this retraction?
    The retraction note is not informative. It seams rather a rush decosion for retraction with minimum investigation.
    Did editor and publisher followed COPE flowchart?

  6. I suggest someone reads this article of Qusay Hassan:
    “Enhancing smart grid integrated renewable distributed generation capacities: Implications for sustainable energy transformation” https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seta.2024.103793

    The article uses several figures from:
    International Energy Agency report 2022, available at: https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-outlook-2022

    The article has no methodology or results. and it is so hard to grasp anything from its AI generated text.

  7. Given his past antecedents, it appears the author and some of his 15 coauthors are a serial plagiarists. Very, very disappointing.

  8. How did the editor accept this with 16 authors?

    What did each author do? What was the justification of job-distribution and accepting such an extremely diverse author list?

  9. In this era were PhDs need journal articles for one to graduate, has led to this. A review of requirements is very necessary

  10. The study was funded by Saudi. Yet I can see the research methodology, data, results and figures identical the former study. What were the role of the EU-based authors? They could not check these issues? Editors could not check the novelty?

  11. The building energy consumption in Sweden is significantly different from Iraq or Saudi. It is sad that neither editors nor reviewers, not even the long list of extra authors or readers could identify this misconduct. I wish Elsevier investigate the rest of these authors articles.

  12. Elsevier and other publishers must be equipped with the latest AI and duplication detection tools for the first screening of submissions. It’s 2024 for the sake of science. Publishers! Please upgrade and improve. Also being an editor must be a full-time job. A bussy professor can not efficiently handle a journal.

  13. Other articles of Qusay Hassan has the exact same issue, for instance this article:
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2024.102535
    has the same data and figures of this article published 4 years earlier:
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enconman.2020.113649
    or this article:
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sftr.2024.100182
    has the same data and figures of this article published 6 years earlier:
    https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-018-0128-x
    I wonder if the Elsevier editorial team even check what they publish anymore.

  14. Many of Qusay Hassan’s coauthors have no relevance to this paper. Maybe it’s best if the journals try to check the relevance of authors’ background.

    1. Dr Quasay Hassan got his PhD from AGH Polytechnic in Kraków, Poland (Academy of Metalurgy and Minning, Cracow – one of the best polytechnics in Poland). His Mentor and Supervisor : Professor Marek Jaszczur, PhD, who is currently Deputy Dean, Faculty of Energy and Fuels, Professor Jaszczur is co-author of the most articles written by Dr. Hassan.

  15. It must have been devastating for the authors of the original study. The bad players’ other publications must be investigated by Elsevier.

  16. Plagiarism, or theft of intellectual property, is an egregious infraction, akin to treason in (political) state affairs. It must never be tolerated!

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