The dean who came to visit – and added dozens of authors without their knowledge

Kumba Digdowiseiso

Earlier this year, a group of lecturers in Malaysia received a WhatsApp message from a colleague who had made a disturbing discovery. 

The colleague, who wished to remain anonymous for this story, was looking through Google Scholar and noticed their name, and many others from their department, repeatedly appeared alongside that of an unfamiliar author: Kumba Digdowiseiso, dean of the economics and business faculty at Universitas Nasional in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“We didn’t even know who this person was,” said Safwan Mohd Nor, an associate professor of finance at the university, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, adding that he was “extremely angry” when he first found out his name had been used. 

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Wiley reopens plagiarism case about dead researcher’s work

Zulfiqar Habib, dean of computer science at COMSATS University Islamabad, in Pakistan, was appalled when he discovered part of a former PhD student’s dissertation had been published in a scientific journal.

After all, the former student, Kurshid Asghar, had been dead for more than a year by the time the manuscript was submitted to Security and Communication Networks, a Hindawi title. And Habib knew none of Asghar’s coauthors had contributed to the research, which Habib had supervised. 

“It was both shocking and unbelievable,” he told Retraction Watch.

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One year later, bioinformatics journal with unclear leadership yet to retract plagiarized article

Nicki Tiffin

On Aug. 17, 2022, Nicki Tiffin received a notification that she had published a new study. The problem? She had never submitted an article to the journal in which the paper appeared. 

A year later, despite efforts by Tiffin and others, the journal has not responded to retraction requests, and the article remains online. Further investigation by Retraction Watch has revealed other dysfunction at the journal, including falsely representing its editors and a schism from its founders and original sponsor. 

The article, “Triumphs and improvement of Computational Bioinformatics in South Africa,” was published in June 2022 in the European Journal of Biomedical Informatics (EJBI).

Tiffin, a professor at the South African National Bioinformatics Institute at the University of the Western Cape, discovered that the new paper was a plagiarized version of an article she had published in 2016. That paper, “The Development of Computational Biology in South Africa: Successes Achieved and Lessons Learnt,” appeared in the journal PLOS Computational Biology and has been cited 13 times, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science

In 2016, Tiffin was a professor at the University of Cape Town. Although she had no role in publishing the EJBI article, it lists her name as the sole author of the paper, as well as her University of Cape Town affiliation.

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Eight papers retracted after author found to be fictional

Photo by Bilal Kamoon via flickr

Elsevier journals are retracting eight studies after learning that one of the authors on the papers was “fictitious” – as in a similar case we reported on recently. 

The ostensible author, Toshiyuki Bangi, was listed as affiliated with the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The eight studies, which were cited a collective 47 times, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science, were published in three different journals — Construction and Building Materials, the Journal of Building Engineering, and Case Studies in Construction Materials

The retraction notice is the same for each paper, and states: 

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‘Unethical and misleading’: Researcher finds his name on editorial boards of journals he’s never heard of

Derek Woollins

On July 21, Derek Woollins received an email asking that an article be withdrawn from a journal he supposedly helped edit. 

But although Woollins was listed on the journal’s website as a member of its editorial board, he had never even heard of the publication. 

Woollins, a professor of synthetic chemistry at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, later learned that he is also listed on the editorial board of other journals from the same publisher –  Scholars Research Library – again, with no involvement in any of them. (Some academics have even found themselves listed as editors in chief of journals they have nothing to do with.)

Woollins told us: 

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Who are you, Dragan Rodriguez? Fifteen studies have the same fake author, sleuth finds

Talk about artificial intelligence. Fifteen studies published in various journals name a mysterious computer scientist as an author.

The problem? He doesn’t seem to exist. 

Dragan Rodriguez is listed as being affiliated with Case Western Reserve University, but an official at the Cleveland institution told a sleuth no one of that name has been associated with the university.

The studies on which Rodriguez’s name appears range in topic from cancer detection to “renewable energy systems optimization.” The papers were published since 2018 in 10 journals from four major scientific publishers since 2018, including the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy and the Journal of Building Engineering, which have both historically had impact factors above 7, and  Applied Energy, whose impact factor has been above 11. They have been cited a total of 232 times. 

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A professor found her name on an article she didn’t write. Then it got worse

Anca Turcu

Anca Turcu was going over her publication stats a few weeks ago, as she does every year to apply for research awards and update her CV, when she found an “unpleasant surprise.” 

Turcu, a senior lecturer in the University of Central Florida’s School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs, was listed as the sole author of an article entitled “Impact of government intervention measures on recycling of waste equipment in China,” which had been published in the African Journal of Political Science in February 2022. 

She hadn’t written the paper, which had nothing to do with her research on diasporas and voting. But that wasn’t the worst of it. 

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In unusual move, publishers remove authors victimized by forger

Three major publishers have removed several authors’ names from five papers, most published a decade ago, following correspondence from an attorney representing one of the individuals.

Three of the papers appeared in PLOS ONE in 2013, one appeared in Springer Nature’s Tumor Biology the same year, and one appeared in Elsevier’s Obesity Research & Clinical Practice in 2014. As we reported in 2016, the journals retracted the articles because one of the authors – Lishan Wang – had forged the rest of his co-authors’ names and manipulated the peer review process.

Years later, Yongyong Shi, a distinguished professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Bio-X Institutes and one of the authors whose name Wang forged, hired a lawyer named Joseph Lewin, a solicitor with Dorsey & Whitney (Europe) LLP. Lewin, in turn, requested that the three publishers remove Shi’s name from the original papers.

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Fired postdoc faked recommendation letters from supervisor, OSU alleges

George Laliotis

A major research institution has accused a former postdoc of forging letters of recommendation from a supervisor, according to a court complaint. 

Georgios Laliotis was terminated by The Ohio State University on Nov. 30, 2021, according to the complaint filed in Franklin County Municipal Court, which we’ve made available here. Earlier that month, his PI, cancer researcher Philip Tsichlis, had uncovered manipulated data in two papers on which Laliotis was the first author, and emailed journal editors to retract them, as we previously reported

Emails released to us by OSU following a public records request indicated that Laliotis had been working at Johns Hopkins at the time, but OSU staffers had been told he had resigned his position effective November 24 and would go back to Greece. Whether he was employed by both universities simultaneously is unclear. 

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Former PhD student loses two papers for forging co-author’s name

Frank Rademakers

The journal of a national scientific society in Europe has retracted a pair of papers after a heart specialist in Belgium complained that his name had been included on the manuscripts with neither his knowledge nor permission. 

The articles appeared in the official journal of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts: Section of Medical Sciences this July.

Both were led by Sofija Popevska and included a single co-author: Frank Rademakers, a cardiologist at KU Leuven. One was titled “The Left Ventricular Pressure-Volume Area and Stroke Work in Porcine Model of Ascending Compared to Descending Thoracic Aorta Stenosis Creating a Chronic Early Vs. Late Left Ventricular Afterload Increase.” The other, “Prolonged Asynchronous Left Ventricular Isovolumic Relaxation Constant in Ascending Compared to Descending Thoracic Aortic Stenosis for Chronic Early Left Ventricular Afterload and Late Left Ventricular Afterload Increase.”

The problem, as Rademakers told us, was that he’d had nothing to do with the work. 

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