Retraction of Florides et al. (2013)

About a year ago I wrote about my dealings with a paper by Florides et al. in a four part article here at SkS (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4). I had found out that the paper in question was largely created by copy/pasting passages of texts from various sources and that the paper contained a lot of false claims and other flaws.

I had communicated my findings to Elsevier, who originally had published the paper, but as I described in part four of the article series, Elsevier did not do anything about the paper.

Since publishing my article series there have been some developments, which I will describe briefly below, but the most recent development is that the paper got retracted three and a half years after I lodged a complaint.

Recent developments

First of all, there was an article on this in Retraction Watch. The article describes mainly the same issues as my article series, but there's also some new information, such as the mention that the Editor-in-Chief of the journal had been replaced.

The new Editor-in-Chief, Professor Aoife M. Foley, contacted me to let me know that they will have another look at the issue. After that I didn't hear from the journal again, but recently I noticed that the journal page for the paper in question now says that the paper has been retracted.

The retraction

Apparently, the paper was retracted on August 23, 2018, or at least the retraction notice shows that date. The reason for the retraction is given as:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief due to duplicate publication based on parts of the authors' own book chapter ‘Global Warming: CO2vs Sun,’ by Georgios Florides, Paul Christodoulides and Vassilios Messaritis, published: September 27th 2010, DOI: 10.5772/10283.

So the plagiarism was the reason the paper got retracted. However, the retraction notice only mentions Florides et al. own book chapter as a source for the plagiarism, while in reality they copied from many other sources as well, and the book chapter in question was also partly copied from other sources. The retraction notice goes on to describe that papers should be original works, and adds:

As such this article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system.

There's also a brief Editor's note on this, but it is not open access. The note doesn't say much. It starts by mentioning that I started the process and a link is given to my article series. Next the note links to Florides et al.'s note regarding the retraction published on the website of their University, so it seems that the journal informed Florides et al. about the retraction prior to the publication of the retraction.

Retraction reaction from Florides et al.

Florides et al. note is similar to their original response in that they claim that they didn't do anything wrong, assume a role of a victim, and throw accusations at us.

They start by claiming that the real reason for the retraction was that the paper "challenges the norm that human beings and anthropogenic CO2 are responsible for global warming". They continue by attacking Skeptical Science and there they throw many false accusations. I won't bother with most of them, but among other things they raise a question about our funding. We find it rather strange, and borderline funny, that so many in the climate change denier community seem to think that one has to have funding in order to do things like we do at Skeptical Science. This is of course not true because you don't need funding if you have a large international volunteer team like Skeptical Science has. I certainly have never received any funding for the work I do for Skeptical Science.

Next Florides et al. claim that their paper has gone through proper peer-review, despite the numerous flaws we found in the paper. The paper was so bad that instead of showing the flaws in their main points, I decided to quantify their misinformation content. We found 42 different flaws from the first two chapters alone, a number that should speak for itself. In their retraction response, Florides et al. don't say anything else about this than call our paper "an insulting (to us and science) note". With this excuse they claim that they haven't received any scientific criticism for their paper.

As was shown above, the journal gave the plagiarism as the reason for retraction, and the unfortunate aspect was that only Florides et al. book chapter was named as the source for the plagiarism. In their response, Florides et al. use that as an excuse to claim that they didn't do anything wrong: "...the accusers finally succeeded their goal and the paper has been retracted for the trivial excuse that the authors repeated some of their ideas, which were presented in a book chapter; i.e. the authors stole their own thoughts." So they claim that they only re-used their own work, but as they well know, and as we showed in our plagiarism analysis, the book in question also contained copy/pasted passages, and in addition to copy/pasting from their own book chapter, they had also copied from other sources such as IPCC and Wikipedia.

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

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