Last September, a researcher at a university in Bangladesh emailed a newspaper about an article he published in 2019. He frankly admitted that the paper was plagiarized. literature, said Sorif Hossain, senior lecturer in statistics at Noakhali University of Science and Technology. who called for the article to be quickly retracted.
But the newspaper remained in place. Only after Retraction Watch contacted the European Journal of Environment and Public Health (EJEPH) last week did they issue a withdrawal notice.
The retraction notice said the article “Saltization and miscarriage: is there a connection?” Impact of Climate Change in Coastal Areas of Bangladesh – A Systematic Review,” was “retracted due to plagiarism, analysis errors, and writing issues.” The paper has been cited six times, according to Google Scholar (the journal is not indexed in Clarivate`s Web of Science).
Modestum, EJEPH`s publisher, told Retraction Watch that, following an extended exchange with Hossain, a retraction note was “uploaded to the journal publication system, but final confirmation from the author was not well received and it stayed invisible.”
The publisher also promised to “investigate this issue further and [to] take necessary measures against those involved.”
Retraction Watch became aware of the case earlier this month when Amir Abdoli, an associate professor of medical parasitology at Jahrom University of Medical Sciences in Iran, contacted us about the EJEPH article. Abdoli pointed out that it includedd a figure from a 2016 publication of his, “Salt and miscarriage: Is there a link?,” in the journal Medical Hypotheses, without permission or even citation.
An analysis using the online comparison tool Copyscape revealed that in addition to the duplication of a figure from Abdoli`s paper, the majority of the 2019 article`s abstract closely resembles the abstract of Abdoli`s article in both phrasing and structure, with nearly 45% of the text of Abdoli`s abstract exactly duplicated.
Mustafa Younis, EJEPH`s editor-in-chief, told Retraction Watch that the publisher screens all articles with anti-plagiarism software before they reach him. He referred us back to Modestum for further comment.
However, Hossain said he has repeatedly contacted Modestum, Younis and Veritas Publications, the newspaper’s former publisher, to ask the paper to withdraw or retract the article. He sent the first such request to Veritas in January 2021, writing: “I don’t want the article removed but I would like to remove this article from this site.
The editor explained that “the only option we had was to post a retraction notice in the next issue”. In a March 2021 email seen by Retract Tracking, Hossain replied: “I agree to continue the retraction process and hope to receive an update as soon as possible.”
What happened after the exchange, if anything, is unclear. From correspondence shared with Retraction Watch, it appears that the editor or publisher did not ask why Hossain wanted his article retracted.
However, in a September 2022 email to Younis and Modestum, Hossain acknowledged that his article contained plagiarism and requested that it be removed or retracted:
- My goal is to remove this paper. It has some plagiarism, analysis error, and writing issues. That is why I want to withdraw my paper.
Modestrum acknowledges that Hossain has repeatedly contacted them and Veritas about withdrawing or withdrawing the article:
- The author repeatedly asked that the article should be “removed” from the website, and not retracted. We see that, in several occasions, the author agreed with the retraction, and later “changed his plan” and “decided to not retract”. These communications with the earlier publisher took place from January 2021 to March 2021.
- Then, during the publisher change, we started receiving another set of “removal” requests from this author. We explained that the article cannot simply be “withdrawn” or “removed” from the journal, and explained the retraction procedure. The retraction note was prepared, it was uploaded to the journal publication system, but final confirmation from the author was not well received and it stayed invisible.
Although the original retraction notice stated that it was published in January 2023 and was available online from September 2022, the date was later changed to June 2023. has also been revised to include an explanation of the retraction.
Emails forwarded by Hossain to Retraction Watch show that while he asks to “delete” his posts, not “withdraw”, he sometimes uses the terms interchangeably.
According to Hossain, he wanted the paper to be retracted due to duplicate drawings and interpretations that closely resembled Abdoli’s 2016 paper abstract. At the time of writing the article, he was a university student for the first time. at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh, he says he doesn’t understand how to cite and match images and sources correctly, or the severity of his offense. “However, when I found out it was a big deal,” he said, “so I reached out to the newspaper to retract that story.”
- I have discussed this with my supervisor and decided to withdraw my paper.
- Kindly take the necessary actions regarding this matter and publish this retraction notice in the current issue.
In an email in September, Hossain said this was his last time as an editor until this month, writing:
In response, Hossain said the publisher responded that it would publish the retraction in the January 2023 issue of the newspaper. He told Retraction Watch that the fact that they didn’t, “is really unacceptable.”