A university in Malaysia has instructed its engineering faculty to cite at least three papers by their colleagues; the more citations a university accrues, the better its ranking in many international surveys. We obtained the original notice, dated August 3 and released by the University of Malaya, and translated it via One Hour Translation. Our English version says:
A researcher is strongly objecting to a publisher’s decision to retract three of her papers from two computing journals without informing her first.
The reason: Self-plagiarism, which the author said stemmed from her PhD student using similar descriptions for the background sections of the papers. She argued that if the reviewers had flagged the duplication, she would have been happy to revise the papers before publication. A representative of the publisher, Springer, told us the overlap was extensive enough for the journal to determine the papers should be retracted.
We spoke with Sameem Abdul Kareem from the Department Of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Malaya in Malaysia, last author on all three papers, which she co-authored with her former PhD student Haitham Badi (also referred to as Haitham Hasan in several papers). She explained how the duplication occurred:
A computer scientist in Malaysia has lost two papers for faked peer reviews, and another for duplication. A fourth paper on which he is a co-author appears to have simply disappeared.
One retraction lays the blame for the fake reviewer on corresponding author Shahaboddin Shamshirband at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to the journal, Shamshirband — who has co-authored more than 200 papers and book chapters, despite receiving his PhD in 2014, according to his biography on Vitae — supplied a fake email for the reviewer during the submission process.
Here’s the retraction notice for that paper, issued by the journal Measurement:
With retraction notices continuing to pour in, we like to occasionally take the opportunity to cover several at a time to keep up.
We’ve compiled a handful of retractions that were all issued to papers that were published twice by at least one of the same authors — known as duplication. (Sometimes, this can be the publisher’s fault, although that doesn’t appear to be the case in any of the following examples.)
A researcher with four retracted papers has left his former institution in Malaysia, according to an official at the university.
In March, we reported on the retractions of two studies in Environmental Geochemistry and Health co-authored by Muhammad Aqeel Ashraf. Both papers were pulled citing a “compromised” peer review process. The now-retracted work was carried out at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Ashraf was previously based.
One journal has retracted a paper containing images that recently raised suspicions of obvious duplications, and another journal is planning to do the same.
Scientists first leveled accusations against the newly retracted paper in Scientific Reports, along with two others by the same researchers, earlier this month on Twitter. One other journal — PeerJ — has announced that it plans to retract one of the questioned papers, as well. The third paper, in Frontiers in Pharmacology, bears an expression of concern.
It was unusually quick action on the part of the journals, as well as the authors’ host institution, the University of Malaya, which announced last week the authors had manipulated figures in all three papers, along with one other.
Multiple investigations have been launched into allegations of blatant duplications by a research group in Malaysia.
Last week, users alleged on Twitter that three papers by the same team included pictures of cells that were copied and pasted. First author Nima Samie, affiliated with University of Malaya in Malaysia, denied the accusations — but both the Malaysian government and now two journals sees cause for further investigation.
According to the allegations, a group of researchers in Malaysia have used the same four images to represent some 30 cells at different stages of cell death. One researcher has even suggested the allegedly doctored images appear in three different papers.