Two More Scholarly “Super Achievers”

Shahaboddin Shamshirband (left) and Dalibor Petković.: clever guys with a plan.

Shahaboddin Shamshirband (left) and Dalibor Petković: clever guys with a plan.

Here are two researchers — one from Iran and currently working in Malaysia, and one based at Serbia’s University of Niš — who are either amazingly productive researchers, or some other scenario. Neither researcher appears to be exploiting the easy-acceptance offered by predatory journals. Is the whole scholarly publishing system falling apart?

Shahaboddin Shamshirband

Dr. Shamshirband is a senior lecturer at the Department of Computer Systems and Technology, Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He apparently got his Ph.D. there in 2014. In 2008, he earned a masters degree at Iran’s Islamic Azad University.

His CV shows he has authored or co-authored 212 scholarly articles since 2011. I count 49 articles under his name in 2016, an average of about six each month so far for the year. Stand by for more. Before 2014, he had only four publications, so the bulk of his research (over 200 articles) has been published in the period 2014 to now. He reports his h-index as 14, an amazing value for a researcher who’s been publishing just a few years.

 

Dalibor Petković

Petković is a member of the mechanical engineering faculty at Serbia’s University of Niš. His scholarly publishing statistics are also questionably high. For example, his Google Scholar profile indicates he has an h-index of 18 and a total of 1364 citations since 2011. His LinkedIn page says he got his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Nis in 2012. I see at least 19 articles he’s published in 2016 so far, over two per month. In the four-year period from August, 2012 to the present, his published journal articles number 105 by my count, or 26 articles per year, one every two weeks.

 

Questionable articles

It appears that these authors work together to produce salami-sliced articles and then simultaneously submit the various versions to several journals. Much of the text matches from article to article, but with simultaneous submission, plagiarism-checking software can’t always catch the duplication. Or are the publishers even checking?

Following are three references, each followed by a screenshot of the first part of the corresponding article’s introduction. Note the recycled text. The remaining text in the articles — as well as some of the figures — matches similarly.

Dalibor Petković, Shahaboddin Shamshirband, Nor Badrul Anuar, Mohd Hairul Nizam Md Nasir, Nenad T. Pavlović & Shatirah Akib. (2014). Adaptive neuro-fuzzy prediction of modulation transfer function of optical lens system. Infrared Physics & Technology 65, p. 54–60. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.infrared.2014.03.011

ddddd

The first introduction, in an Elsevier journal.

Dalibor Petković, Shahaboddin Shamshirband, Hadi Saboohi, Tan Fong Ang, Nor Badrul Anuar, Zulkanain Abdul Rahman, Nenad T. Pavlović. (2014). Evaluation of modulation transfer function of optical lens system by support vector regression methodologies: A comparative study. Infrared Physics & Technology 65, p. 94–102. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.infrared.2014.04.005

dddd

The second introduction, also in an Elsevier journal.

Dalibor Petković, Shahaboddin Shamshirband, Nenad T. Pavlović, Nor Badrul Anuar, Laiha Mat Kiah. (2014). Modulation transfer function estimation of optical lens system by adaptive neuro-fuzzy methodology. Optics and Spectroscopy 117(1), p. 121-131. http://doi.org/10.1134/S0030400X14070042

ddd

The third introduction, in a Springer journal.

Analysis

It seems these researchers have developed a successful salami slicing system for getting lots of articles published quickly in supposedly good journals. The high number of authors on each paper arouses suspicion also: are these authorship spots being brokered? Is this entire operation part of a sophisticated, international citation cartel?

Universities tend to have a “hands off” policy towards their highly-productive faculty, even when the accelerated production is under a cloud of suspicion. Faculty publications in top-tier journals help lift university and program rankings, and few universities are willing to stop a practice that elevates their rankings.

Scholarly publishing is supposed to work on a “gentleman’s agreement” basis, but the influence of predatory publishers has poisoned much of research communication, and the articles listed here are evidence of that.

I ask that the publishers involved in these cases investigate whether these publications violate ethical standards and policies.

Hat tip: Anonymous

Appendix:

Additional examples of apparent salami slicing:

First set, Articles on wind turbines:

Support vector regression methodology for wind turbine reaction torque prediction with power-split hydrostatic continuous variable transmission Journal Name: Energy, Volume 67, 1 April 2014, Pages 623–630. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544214001339

Wind turbine power coefficient estimation by soft computing methodologies: Comparative study, Energy Conversion and Management, Volume 81, May 2014, Pages 520–526. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0196890414001745

Survey of the most influential parameters on the wind farm net present value (NPV) by adaptive neuro-fuzzy approach. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 57, May 2016, Pages 1270–1278. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032115015580

 

Second set, Articles on robotic grippers:

Dalibor Petković, Amir Seyed Danesh, Mehdi Dadkhah, Negin Misaghian, Shahaboddin Shamshirband, Erfan Zalnezhad, Nenad D. Pavlović, Adaptive control algorithm of flexible robotic gripper by extreme learning machine, Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing 37 (2016) 170–178, Received 14 September 2014 Received in revised form 28 July 2015 Accepted 7 September 2015 Available online 29 September 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rcim.2015.09.006

Dalibor Petković, Shahaboddin Shamshirband, Almas Abbasi, Kourosh Kiani, Eiman Tamah Al-Shammari, Prediction of contact forces of underactuated finger by adaptive neuro fuzzy approach, Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing 64-65 (2015) 520–527, Article history: Received 25 September 2013 Received in revised form 10 March 2015 Accepted 13 March 2015 Available online 23 April 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ymssp.2015.03.013

Petkovi , D., Shamshirband, S., Anuar, N. B., Sabri, A. Q. M., Rahman, Z. B. A., &  , N. D. (2015). Input Displacement Neuro-fuzzy Control and Object Recognition by Compliant Multi-fingered Passively Adaptive Robotic Gripper. Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, 1-11. Received: 4 March 2013 / Accepted: 9 January 2015 / Published online: 29 January 2015. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10846-015-0182-6

Dalibor Petković · Shahaboddin Shamshirband · Hadi Saboohi · Tan Fong Ang · Nor Badrul Anuar · Nenad D. Pavlović, Support vector regression methodology for prediction of input displacement of adaptive compliant robotic gripper, Appl Intell (2014) 41:887–896 DOI 10.1007/s10489-014-0574-5 Published online: 19 August 2014.  http://doi.org/10.1007/s10489-014-0574-5

Dalibor Petković, Shahaboddin Shamshirband, Javed Iqbal, Nor Badrul Anuar, Nenad D. Pavlović, Miss Laiha Mat Kiah, Adaptive neuro-fuzzy prediction of grasping object weight for passively compliant gripper, Applied Soft Computing 22 (2014) 424–431, Article history: Received 9 December 2012 Received in revised form 20 February 2014 Accepted 26 April 2014 Available online 5 May 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.asoc.2014.04.037

Dalibor Petković,  Javed Iqbal, Shahaboddin Shamshirband, Abdullah Gani,  Nenad D. Pavlovit, and Miss Laiha Mat Kiah. Kinetostatic Analysis of Passively Adaptive Robotic Finger with Distributed Compliance, Advances in Mechanical Engineering Received 25 September 2013; Accepted 7 December 2013; Published 2 January 2014. http://doi.org/10.1155/2014/145648

Petković, D; Pavlović, ND ; Shamshirband, S; Anuar, NB, Development of a new type of passively adaptive compliant gripper INDUSTRIAL ROBOT-AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL, Volume: 40 Issue: 6 Pages: 610-623, 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IR-12-2012-452

Salami slicing.

Salami slicing, any way you spell it.

 

33 Responses to Two More Scholarly “Super Achievers”

  1. […] O Professor Jeffrey Beall, que costumeiramente traz análises e revelações sobre os efeitos da propagação exponencial de revistas predatórias sobre a qualidade das publicações científicas, acaba de produzir uma postagem lapidar sobre o irmão siamês do “Trash science“, o também pernicioso “Salami science” (Aqui!). […]

  2. Roger Carter says:

    It just goes to show that shoddy and incomplete editorial and peer review processes are not confined to open access publishers. Elsevier (and probably other) reputable academic publishers are just as prone to scammers if they are not rigorous enough in their processes.

  3. cjgberg says:

    Wait till the salami slicers discover the cyberknife….

  4. behalbiotech says:

    This year I faced problem of similar introduction and material & methods among few papers and then I inquired from editors if they will consider it as plagiarism or not. Surprisingly I was answered that Results & Discussion is more important and introduction can be ignored. Reply also indicates that plagiarism software are just in practice from from a year or two and still need proper care.
    What I personally analysed from their replies is that most of the editors or their team are not willing to care much and it will need readers to either know how to analyse a paper or raise concern on a common platform.

  5. Samwise Gamgee says:

    What do the publishers have to say about this?

  6. KK says:

    I have seen that the salami section mentioned as below:

    A) Salami publication is where papers cover the same population, methods, and question.

    Opinion: It seems the mentioned papers have different methodology as some of us from this weblog are not expert in methodology sections. We can refer to trend of soft computing or machine learning. For instance, Long time ago researchers developed Neural network and now they developed Extreme Learning Machine.

    Question: How the researcher use the novel methods and compare with their previous work?

    It is an editorial decision as to whether to publish or not: there is no ethical problem.

    • Jablan says:

      Many researchers develop novel methods and they could compare it with their previous results. I do not see what is wrong with it.

  7. Samwise Gamgee says:

    Dear KK and Jablan,

    I appreciate that you may be loyal to your co-author(s). While I commend your loyalty I question your scholarship. Just consider this two titles:

    Adaptive neuro-fuzzy prediction of modulation transfer function of optical lens system

    and

    Modulation Transfer Function Estimation of Optical Lens System by Adaptive Neuro-Fuzzy Methodology

    From the titles alone you can tell that the
    a) problem is on estimation /prediction of modulation transfer function
    b) domain is Optical Lens System
    c) methodology is neuro-fuzzy

    What is the difference here? What is the originality? What is the contribution? To put in layman terms what is the story the second article is telling that the first has not already told…

    That is just from the title only, now take a look at the papers, they have the same data, figures and tables, one even have a mistake of data taken from another subject matter. The results have been made to look like they are different but …

    I am just using 2 or 3 articles as examples here. There is a long list with this posting. Please see for yourself. But, I’m sure you have.

    Yes it is an Editorial decision, but Editors owe their existence to readers’ subscriptions. Selling journals with replicated materials is a form of hoodwinking readers. As a reader, I take offence that the Journal charged me for an article that has appeared in another Journal and which I have also paid for. i.e. I paid for the same story repeatedly! In the long run, I may withdraw my subscription! That is from the readers point of view.

    From the Editors’ point of view, subscriptions’ cancellation spells money lost, spells bad business! So Editors’ have to take this seriously! Editors’, if you are reading this, please note!

    From a scholarly point of view, scientific publication is so that authors can share their findings, hypothesis/theories, the lines of reasoning and evidence for the progress of science[1].

    If the same findings, hypothesis/theories, the lines of reasoning and evidence are repeated in several articles, where is the scientific progress? Changing the format of the results from one article to another does not constitute progress. The articles do not offer any new insights, science stagnates. The authors are advised to carry out other researches so their research can progress and they can contribute to the progress of scientific knowledge!

    BTW, using different standard methods to do one thing is not novel! The techniques used in these articles are standard machine learning techniques!

    Reference: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/howscienceworks_15

    • Jablan says:

      I agree these are standard machine learning techniques but everybody can apply these methods. Nobody can forbid someone to apply it.

    • Jablan says:

      The main point is there are two types of papers, application papers and new methodology papers. Some journals accept application papers and some journals do not accept this kind of papers.

  8. Samwise Gamgee says:

    Jablan,

    I think you are missing the point here. Nobody is saying that the authors are forbidden from using a certain method, what we are saying is that, what the authors have done from one paper to another is merely repetitive work that does not contribute to scientific progress and has no place in scientific publication! It’s a waste of readers money, a waste of public funds, if the work is funded by some public organisation and a breach of COPE publication standards. We don’t need 10 articles to tell us yes, this technique have the ability to do that! Please educate yourself on publication and research ethics. Do not follow blindly what someone is asking you to do!

    I agree there are all kinds of journals, but sometimes journal editors inadvertently publish something that by common sense, they should not! That’s why they have retractions!

    Like this retracted paper:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0341816216302132

    Have a good day.

    • Jablan says:

      So the authors are collateral damage because of editors’ careless acceptances of these papers?

      • JS says:

        Although editors should have never accepted these studies, it is at the end of the day the authors’ responsibility not to publish repetitive work. Some of the studies mentioned above will be undoubtedly retracted and it will be leave a stain on the authors’ and the university’s record.

  9. Jablan says:

    By the way this paper was retracted because of some similarity. Not because of application of Machine Learning method.

  10. KK says:

    Dear Samwise,

    For this retracted paper, it seems the editor and his team are responsible to double check in round of revision using ithenic software. My opinion is that the editor has lack of management and he/she does not care about the dateline for author.

    You can see that the journal received the paper in 25 August 2015 and they gave acceptance in June 2016 ( around 1 year), so it is clear that this journal is slow and they do not care about scholar’s time and life and fund. Therefore, it is obvious that during this 1 year , the same methods like ANFIS will use by them for another applications. As I understood from your view, you would like to say that ANFIS can not apply until the current anfis version ( under review) will be accepted. Then you return to SALAMI PAPER.

    • JD says:

      Just found out that both “super achievers” google scholar page are now GONE. And based on Linked, one of them eventually is a director of a company in Malaysia (https://my.linkedin.com/in/shamshirband). In the page, it is stated “I am Director of the Shahab Pardaz Mazand Lab (SPMLab) – an industry and government-supported collaboration of students, postdocs, and faculty who specialize in data management, statistical machine learning and other important topics necessary for making sense of vast amounts of varied and unruly data.

      Email:
      shahab1396@gmail.com
      shamshirband@um.edu.my

    • Samwise says:

      KK,

      Please read again what I said! If you are a PhD candidate, you need to understand published work, in order for you to write a good thematic literature review! It seems that both you and Jablan have difficulty understanding what I wrote! It’s really quite plain and easy! Don’t twist and turn my words!

  11. JD says:

    Apparently based on this blog (http://etikadium.blogspot.my/), it seems that University of Malaya are aware of the situation reported here? Also, some important facts found.

    1) Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rankings_of_universities_in_the_Malaysia) stated that University of Malaya is the most prestigious university in Malaysia (rank 133 based on QS2016). If so, such incidents should have been taken seriously if it is truth? And how many of these “salami” papers are reported in the QS2016 ranking? Will QS re-rank?

    2) According to his CV, the “super achiever” from University of Malaya was awarded the University of Malaya Excellence Awards (Phd Candidate With Highest Impact Publications), University of Malaya, 2015, (University). It seems that the university is supportive and indirectly promoting this kind of research conducts?

    3) Some of the co-authors listed above are holding the top position in the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, University of Malaya. For example, according to the CV (https://umexpert.um.edu.my/badrul.html), Anuar N.B or Nor Badrul Anuar is the current Deputy Dean Of Research And Development, Pejabat Dekan, Faculty Of Computer Science And Information Technology Dean’s Office, Faculty Of Computer Science & Information Technology, 2016-08-01 – 2017-07-31. If we look at the date and I understand it correctly, the appointment was made just a month ago (2016-08-01). Again, as to Jeffrey mentioned, it seems that the university is having a “hands-off” policy to its highly productive faculty to maintain the university ranking. The position of Deputy Dean of Research and Development is so important to set the direction of the faculty and university, and is this appointment set the direction of the university staffs to publish more in “salami” papers?

  12. Dickson says:

    Hmmm, this is getting interesting! With a number of High Stake Players! I noticed that another co-author Gani, A or Abdullah Gani is the Dean of the Faculty where, Anuar N.B. and Shamshirband, S works (https://umexpert.um.edu.my/abdullah)

  13. Sir
    may you tell me pleaz about the following journal
    and if it contain real impact factor
    African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

    • I don’t know if this journal has an impact factor or not. I recommend you not send any papers to this journal or to the others from this publisher, Academic Journals. I recommend you find a better publisher for your work.

  14. Well, i see these articles as Salami slice. University of Ibadan always check on this and will summate articles with similar title as one. Talkless of going into the content and having similar into, method, there won.t be any promotion.

  15. Well, i published good articles there but they are no longer counted for me for promotion by my university. The problem with the publisher is thier non-relationship with a university or a soiety. Presently they publish anything that make one regret ever published with them.

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