Home / Science / An author realized a paper had plagiarized his thesis. It took the journal four years to retract it. – Retraction Watch

An author realized a paper had plagiarized his thesis. It took the journal four years to retract it. – Retraction Watch

An author realized a paper had plagiarized his thesis. It took the journal four years to retract it. – Retraction Watch

through James Kroll

After greater than four years of doing, properly, not a lot, evidently, Scientific Reports — a Springer Nature title — has retracted a paper which plagiarized from the bachelor’s thesis of a Hungarian mathematician. 

The article, “Modified box dimension and average weighted receiving time on the weighted fractal networks,” was purportedly written by a group of researchers from China led by Meifeng Dai, of the Nonlinear Scientific Research Center at Jiangsu University.

Except it wasn’t. As the retraction discover states: 

The Editors have retracted this Article as a result of important parts of the textual content and equations have been taken from Roland Molontay’s BSc thesis with out attribution.

The following elements of the paper are copied verbatim or are tailored from these showing in the thesis: the definition of dB and previous and subsequent sentences; Definition three.2; Proof of Lemma three.four; Lemma three.5; Proof of Lemma three.5; Lemma three.6; Proof of Lemma three.6; Equation 6; Lemma three.7; Proof of Lemma three.7; Lemma three.eight; Equation eight; Proof of Theorem three.three.

The authors don’t agree to the retraction of the Article.

According to the journal, the article was submitted on Oct. 15, 2015, accepted about a month later and printed Dec. 15, 2015. Per week later, the enjoyable began for Molontay, who gave us a rundown of what occurred after he’d uploaded his thesis in 2013 to his private dwelling web page on the web site of Budapest University of Technology and Economics:   

I think – in fact I can’t be positive however that’s the most possible resolution that I can see – that the authors discovered my thesis on Google Scholar, since Google Scholar indexes the bme.hu area and located my thesis on-line. I think that they first studied the journal article of the supervisors of my thesis (Júlia Komjáthy and Károly Simon) they usually checked out the citing works on Google Scholar. Since in my thesis I examine a mannequin that was launched by Komjáthy and Simon I clearly cite their work and thus the authors might have discovered my thesis amongst the citing works on Google Scholar. …

My supervisor (Károly Simon) despatched me the Scientific Reports paper on the 22nd of December, 2015 as an article that cites their earlier paper and may be attention-grabbing for me primarily based on the title … [A]t that point I used to be his first-year PhD pupil. As I glanced by the article I used to be shocked, it was crystal clear for me from the first sight that we face plagiarism. My emotions have been blended, in fact it’s annoying, on the different hand I used to be additionally proud that my BSc thesis is nice sufficient to be printed (sadly not beneath my title however nonetheless) in a very high-impact Nature subjournal. (I didn’t understand earlier than that the ends in my thesis are of publishable high quality.) 

Molontay stated he alerted Simon and collectively they determined to report the theft: 

I created a lengthy checklist of evidences of the plagiarism and my supervisor reported the plagiarism to the editor on the 20th of January, 2016. The editor responded on the fifth of February that they have been trying into the concern and can get again to us as quickly as potential.

We inquired on the fifth of July, 2016 whether or not the journal got here to a conclusion. The editor replied and advised us that they’re nonetheless ready for the response of the authors. Later nonetheless in July, 2016 the editor wrote that they’re nonetheless conferring with the editorial board and different colleagues however will get again to us as quickly as potential. 

After that, nothing. Well, until you rely the eight occasions the paper was cited, together with as soon as by a “highly cited paper,” in accordance to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Knowlege. More than two years elapsed, Molontay stated, with out phrase from the journal: 

To inform the fact I nearly forgot about the case and moved on however typically it got here into my thoughts and in August, 2018 we contacted the editor once more and requested what occurred in the previous two years. (I actually don’t know what occurred in that 2 years, I’m not accustomed to the editorial course of however I perceive that the determination making and reporting in such a delicate case is a difficult and sluggish course of.) The level is that the editor promised that they might look again into the concern. In February, 2019 the journal knowledgeable us that they plan to retract the paper however they requested us to hold it confidential.

And the relaxation is historical past, the retraction observe was printed a couple of days in the past.

So that’s the entire story. To inform the fact, I really feel sorry for the authors since I can think about that it should be troublesome for them, on the different, it’s sadly clearly dishonest.

A spokesperson for Scientific Reports had this to say:

The editorial staff at Scientific Reports is dedicated to rigorously scrutinising any considerations which might be raised about our papers, following a longtime process. This course of includes session with the unique authors and, the place acceptable, we search recommendation from impartial peer reviewers and others. It can take time to undertake and report on points introduced to our consideration and, on this occasion, a mixture of things together with, sadly, human error on our half meant that this course of took longer than anticipated. We apologise to our readers for the delay in updating the scholarly document.

To which we are saying: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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