Many publishers have been duped by fake peer reviews, which have brought down more than 600 papers to date. But some continue to get fooled.
Recently, SAGE retracted 10 papers published as part of two special collections in Advances in Mechanical Engineering after discovering the peer review process that had been managed by the guest editors “did not meet the journal’s usual rigorous standards.” After a new set of reviewers looked over the collections, they determined 10 papers included “technical errors,” and the content “did not meet the journal’s required standard of scientific validity.”
Yeah, we’re not exactly sure what happened here, either. SAGE gave us a little extra clarity — but not much.
When researchers submitted a paper about a type of microparticle to PNAS, they wanted to give credit where it was due, and cite an unpublished manuscript that helped guide their work. But the journal’s policy forbid citing unpublished work, and the reference was removed before publication. Now, concerns from the authors of that unpublished work have prompted the journal to have a change of heart.
The authors of a highly cited 2016 research letter on a way to improve the efficiency of solar panels have retracted their work following “concerns about the reproducibility.”
Given the potential importance of the data, it would be nice to know what exactly went wrong, and why. However, the retraction notice doesn’t provide many details, and doesn’t even specify if the authors did indeed fail to reproduce the data.
Several years ago, Chris Dames thought he had made an exciting discovery, a “secret sauce” that would allow him to design a device using a novel mechanism.
In a 2014 Nature Communications paper, Dames—who works at the University of California at Berkeley—and his team described the first experimental results for the device, a photon thermal diode. A thermal diode conducts heat in one direction but not in the other, and in theory, could have broad applications—for example, provide barriers that shield buildings from excess heat or use heat to power computers.
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.
The first author of a 2013 chemistry paper is objecting to his co-authors’ decision to retract the paper, which contains duplicated figures.
We recently encountered a similar scenario with papers by first author Khalid Mahmood. In late 2015, Mahmood lost three papers in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces over duplicated images. One of the notices also indicated that the figures had “been published elsewhere and identified with different samples” — the same language used in the notice of the most recent retraction, in Journal of Materials Chemistry C.
Mahmood performed the work on the papers at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), along with his two co-authors, Seung Bin Park and Hyung Jin Sung (also co-authors on two of the retracted papers in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces).
A physics journal has retracted a 2011 paper by a group of scientists based in Italy, noting it’s “literally copied” from a paper by the same authors.
This is the 12th retraction for the paper’s first author Alberto Carpinteri, who is known in the engineering community for championing some controversial ideas, such as that the Shroud of Turin is as old as Jesus (contradicting carbon dating). In 2015, a journal he used to edit — Meccanica — retracted 11 of his papers, noting that “the editorial process had been compromised.”
In the latest notice, the Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment (JSTAT) says its investigation found a substantial portion of the paper—including the main analysis and conclusion—had been lifted from a paper published in another journal several months before.
A researcher has threatened to sue publisher Taylor & Francis for mentioning a misconduct investigation into his work in a retraction notice.
According to the notice, the publisher retracted a 2008 paper and a book chapter after learning about a misconduct investigation into the work of Mark Jackson, a department head and endowed chair, respectively, at universities in Kansas.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the nature of the misconduct investigation; Jackson told us he initiated the retractions after raising concerns his colleagues had violated intellectual property. He has since told the publisher he would take legal action if it didn’t remove the phrase noting that the retractions stem from a misconduct investigation into his work from the notice.
Here’s the notice, issued by Materials Science and Technology:
An engineering student in South Korea and a professor have retracted five papers from four different journals for reasons ranging from figure duplication to manipulated or fraudulent data.
Jae Hyo Park, who is pursuing his PhD, and Seung Ki Joo, a professor in the department of material science and engineering at Seoul National University in South Korea, appear on all five papers as first and last author, respectively.