An engineering researcher has written about models tackling a range of complex issues — security problems in Iraq, poverty in Europe, and emergency responses to humanitarian crises. But there may be some limits to his expertise: Between 2016 and 2017, five journals have retracted five of his papers, citing plagiarism.
Some of the notices describe the plagiarism as “extensive,” “significant,” and “substantial.” One journal editor, who retracted one of Kubilay Kaptan’s papers last year, told us the paper “was simply a direct copy from an existing one.”
The editor noted that Kaptan — who lists his affiliation as the Civil Engineering Department at Beykent University in Istanbul — claimed to be “the victim of a personal smear campaign, which involved submitting plagiarised manuscripts in his name.” We reached out to Kaptan several times by phone and email to verify this claim, but did not hear back.
Last July, Joseph Hilgard, a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, saw an article in Gifted Child Quarterly that made him do a double take. Hilgard, who is studying the effects of violent media on aggressive behavior, said the results of the 2016 paper “caused me some alarm.”
The research—led by corresponding author Brad J. Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University (OSU)—showed that gifted and non-gifted children’s verbal skills dropped substantially after watching 12 minutes of a violent cartoon. The violent program had a greater impact on the gifted children, temporarily eliminating the pre-video verbal edge they displayed over their non-gifted peers.
To Hilgard, the results suggested that violent media can actually impair learning and performance. But the effect size was huge — so big, Hilgard thought it had to be a mistake. This, plus other questions, prompted Hilgard to contact the authors and the journal. Unfortunately, once he got a look at the data — collected by a co-author in Turkey who became unreachable after the recent coup attempt — the questions didn’t go away. So the journal decided to retract the paper.
Bushman’s body of work has continually supported the idea that violent media increases aggressive behavior, including a controversial 2012 study “Boom, Headshot!” that was retracted earlier this year.
A journal has pulled a paper about predicting people’s faces from their fingerprints due to “significant overlap” with a previous paper by the same authors.
According to the retraction notice in Intelligent Automation & Soft Computing, the authors didn’t cite or acknowledge the other study in the Turkish Journal of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science.
First author of both papers, Şeref Sağıroğlu, who is based at Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey told Retraction Watch that he doesn’t believe the two papers have significant overlap. Still, the research is related, so when he learned the retracted paper didn’t reference the previous one:
A spectroscopy journal has retracted a 2016 study after concluding that its editors had been misled by a fake review.
According to the retraction notice, the journal — Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy — accepted the paper due to positive feedback from someone assuming the identity of an expert reviewer, using an email address provided by the author of the study.
An official from the author’s institution in Turkey informed us that it will conduct an investigation.
Sometimes, the best way to expose a problem with the publishing process is to put it to a test — perhaps by performing a Sokal-style hoax, or submitting a paper with obvious flaws.
In 2014, that’s just what a researcher in Kosovo did. Suspicious that a journal wasn’t doing a thorough job of vetting submissions, she decided to send them an article of hers that had already appeared in another journal. Her thinking was that any journal with an honest and thorough peer review process would hesitate to publish the work. But this journal didn’t — at least at first. Though they retracted the paper this summer, it took a few twists and turns to get there.
Once again, this list focuses on duplications — but unlike other duplications, these authors were not at fault. Rather, these retractions occurred because the publishers mistakenly published the same paper twice — the result of a transfer between publishers, for instance, or accidentally publishing the unedited version of the paper. We’re forced to wonder, as we have before, whether saddling researchers’ CVs with a retraction is really the most fair way to handle these cases.
“Eerily familiar”: That’s how Serdar Sayan of TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Turkey says it felt to read a submission to the Scandinavian Journal of Economics, after the journal asked him to review the manuscript. It turns out, it was Sayan’s paper, word for word, equation for equation, down to the last punctuation mark. But this wasn’t a case of authors faking email addresses for reviewers to rubber stamp their own work – instead, the author had plagiarized from a paper Sayan had published a few years earlier. Sayan describes the surreal experience in the Review of Social Economy (vol. 74, no. 1, 2016), in a paper titled: “Serving as a referee for your own paper: A dream come true or…?”
“I have been asked by a journal to serve as a referee for my own paper. Obviously, this sounds just as unlikely, and probably almost as intriguing, as saying ‘I have attended my own funeral.’” — Serdar Sayan, Review of Social Economy (vol. 74, no. 1, 2016)
A paper on the characteristics of a photodiode has been retracted corrected because one of the authors “does not want this article for her academic career.”
We don’t often see this kind of reasoning in retraction notices, since adding to one’s publication record is generally a good thing. But occasionally papers do get pulled when researchers are included against their wishes.
This week, we spotlight another five unrelated retractions which, as we said last week, cover duplications in which the same – or some of the same – authors published the same – or some of the same – information in two different papers.
Authors have retracted a paper from the Journal of Neurosurgery that contained many errors, including mislabeled figures, anatomical errors, and mismatched citations. They said that the paper’s preparation was rushed and not all authors had a chance to verify that it was accurate.