The F13 files, part 1 - the copy/paste job

Elsevier's journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews published a paper in 2013 (Florides et al. 2013, "F13" from now on) which we found problematic. We analysed the paper and communicated our findings to Elsevier. Our main findings were that much of F13 text was copy/pasted from other sources without proper attribution and that F13 contained many false claims. In this series of posts I'll go through the problems in F13 and in Elsevier actions. There are four posts:

Part 1 - the copy/paste job

About three years ago we contacted Elsevier to inform them that a paper they had published, the F13, was problematic in many ways. F13 is written as a review article on the climatic effects of carbon dioxide and the Sun, but it really is yet another attempt to publish climate myths within scientific literature. I'll go through the problems with the contents in the subsequent posts, but here I would like to highlight another apparent problem in F13.

When we, the Skeptical Science volunteer community, first became aware of this paper, we started to check it out. As I was checking one of the F13 references to see what it says on one of the claims of F13, I noticed that the reference had some text that was exactly the same as the text in F13. Only thing missing was quotation marks in F13 to indicate that they had quoted the text directly from their reference (they did give the reference). I then decided to check another passage elsewhere from F13. I found the same thing. The text was copied without indicating that it was quoted. I dug some more and kept finding copy/pasted passages.

We discussed the situation among SkS volunteers, and I started to go through F13 thoroughly for copy/pasted passages. I ended up doing that to first two chapters of F13, and with help from John Mashey (who had been involved with the similar issue with Wegman et al.), we wrote an analysis of the copy/paste issue for Elsevier. I'll go through the dealings with Elsevier in a subsequent post, but here I'll give some details on the copy/pasted passages.

Overview of the copy/pasted content

There are 27 paragraphs in the two chapters we analyzed. We didn't find obviously copied passages from six of the paragraphs, so 78% of paragraphs contain copy/pasted passages. I also estimated the percentage of copied text within each paragraph. The average of these percentages is 59%, so on average F13 paragraphs seem to contain about 60% of copied texts. None of the paragraphs were copied fully, but there always was at least a word or two changed from the original text. The edits were trivial enough to suggest that there were deliberate copy-paste-editing involved. The graph below shows the copy/paste percentages for each paragraph we analyzed.

F13 main source for the copied texts is their book chapter from 2010 but the book chapter has also copied text from other sources, so some of the copied passages in F13 come from other sources but through their book chapter. Another main source for copied texts in F13 is IPCC AR4, which they copy both directly and through their book chapter. Other sources are from the scientific literature, books, blogs, and even Wikipedia.

The image below shows our analysis to give readers further idea of the extent and structure of copy/pasted contents in F13 (PDF file of the analysis is available). Each small panel contains one page of our analysis. In each panel, the left column shows the F13 text, center column shows the Florides et al. book chapter mentioned above, and the right column shows other references they have copied from. Highlight colors are: blue = text has been copied word-for-word and in order, green = text has been copied word-for-word in rearranged order, yellow = trivial changes within copied texts, and no highlight color = no obvious copy/pasted passages were found.

As can be seen from the image, general main color for left side columns is blue and non-highlighted passages are quite rare. However, it should be noted that the six paragraphs we didn't find evidence for copy/pasted passages are not shown in this image.

(Click the image for bigger version.)

Examples of copy/pasted passages

(Click the image for bigger version.)

In the left panel of the image above, the F13 paragraph is shown in which I first noticed this copy/paste issue. The right panel shows a paragraph from Veizer (2005). Highlighted with blue and red frames are the directly copy pasted passages with minor changes circled.

The image below shows an example of how F13 have copied from their own book chapter in which they have originally copy/pasted texts from other sources.

(Click the image for bigger version.)

The last example below shows evidence that these indeed are copy/pasted passages. They have copied a passage from Monnin et al. (2004) to their 2010 book chapter and from there to F13. The passage has been inserted to the middle of one of their sentences, but as it is a whole sentence in Monnin et al., it starts with capital letter. Unfortunately, they forgot to change it so they now have the word "high" with capital first letter in the middle of their sentence. Or, maybe they just wanted to Highlight it.

(Click the image for bigger version.)

Conclusions of the copy/pasted content

We found that most of the texts within the two chapters we analysed had been copy/pasted from other sources with trivial word changes here and there. Of the analysed 27 paragraphs 21 were found to contain copy/pasted content with half of the paragraphs being almost completely copy/pasted (copy/paste content over 80%). Among the sources were IPCC AR4, Wikipedia, some journal articles, and a book chapter written by F13 which had originally copied some of the contents from other sources. In the light of these findings it seems safe to say that F13 doesn't seem to be an original piece of work, but instead seems to have been stitched together by copy/pasting from other people's work, without acknowledgement.

Additional information

The full analysis of copy/pasted content.


Florides G., Christodoulides P., Messaritis V. (2010), Global warming: CO2 vs sun. In: Harris, Stuart Arthur, editor. Global warming, Sciyo, ISBN 978-953-307-149-7.

Georgios A. Florides, Paul Christodoulides, Vassilios Messaritis (2013, "F13"), Reviewing the effect of CO2 and the sun on global climate, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 26, October 2013, Pages 639-651, ISSN 1364-0321,

Veizer, Ján (2005). Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective from Four Billion Years of the Carbon Cycle. Geoscience Canada, [S.l.], mar. 2005. ISSN 1911-4850.

Eric Monnin, Eric J Steig, Urs Siegenthaler, Kenji Kawamura, Jakob Schwander, Bernhard Stauffer, Thomas F Stocker, David L Morse, Jean-Marc Barnola, Blandine Bellier, Dominique Raynaud, Hubertus Fischer (2004), Evidence for substantial accumulation rate variability in Antarctica during the Holocene, through synchronization of CO2 in the Taylor Dome, Dome C and DML ice cores, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 224, Issues 1–2, 30 July 2004, Pages 45-54, ISSN 0012-821X,



Posted by Ari Jokimäki on Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

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