Case: Manipulating the Authorship of Papers

During 2012-13, SS, a former PDF at the University of Adelaide (under supervision of PD and CX) changed the authorship order of two papers. The changes were made without my permission. I reported the case to his supervisors in multiple occasions, in a meeting and via emails. However, the case was let to be forgotten, unfortunately!

Original Paper

Here the original revision #17 of the paper is attached for reference. Note the authorship order in the paper. My name is the second one.

Indeed, I did over 20 revisions on this paper. Moreover, without my contributions this work and the other one would not even exist. Here is how.

I was doing my PhD at University of Adelaide, Australia. SS joined our group in early 2012. He had mathematics background. He knew absolutely nothing about rocks, fractures and fracture networks. He asked me several times to help him to get an understanding of how we simulate fractures and networks. In a conversation in the school’s hall, SS asked me to help him to understand the fundamentals of fracture simulations, and to work with him closely. He seemed so desperate, offering me to be the first author in the resulting papers! I told him I will help him and he will still be the first author, I will be the second. I informed PD as follows.

2012-02-09
From: Younes
To: PD
…SS asked me to have collaboration on the research he is doing. I advised him for a discussion with you first. He told me that you have accepted this. …Today after our meeting … I spend a few hours working on his idea with him. He had a new good idea on the development of his proposed measure, orientation criteria. I found it interesting which could solve memory-usage problem. I helped him to code his idea and we could have a successful implementation this evening. The resulting was amazing…

Indeed, I did the whole coding for him, not only on that day, but also many times in the coming weeks and months.

2012-02-14
From: SS
To: Younes
…The group meeting is at 2pm on Thursday. So, I think we have time to discuss the paper on Thursday. But before that, can we have discussion tomorrow evening, after 6 or 7pm? There are some changes in the results.
Also, I will think more on the theory this night…

In the above, SS is asking for my input. For several group meetings I was presenting the work until he became eventually comfortable to do his part. Indeed, I spent numerous afternoons and evenings (some even until midnights) either coding for him or discussing on the shared work/paper in his office. I was supporting him in full extent.

Once he asked me about the Hough Transform and my implementation. I gave him complete details. During the discussion we came with a new transformation idea. His math background and my DFNE expertise was a good blend to make discussions fruitful. I baked the idea, and wrote codes for him to play with. We did a lot of simulations. Based on the new method’s visual, I named it “Sea Transform” which he liked it a lot. Further to the original transformation code, I coded for him several other functions to visualize the results, and to analyze and record the data properly. I also helped him to interpret the results of the simulations.

Besides coding for and discussions with SS, I assisted him in development of the proposals and concepts, conducting simulations and data analysis, developing algorithms, evaluation of the results, producing and preparing all figures, and writing the manuscripts’ sections, editing and revising.

2012-02-16
From: Younes
To: PD, CX
…We (SS and me) could also prepare an abstract for 34th IGC to introduce Sea transform for fracture modeling…

2012-02-20
From: Younes
To: PD, CX
…The Sea Transform as introduced in our today’s meeting with details by SS and me and I explained a bit in the minutes sent, has a very good potential to be popularized as Hough transform or even more. The key developments and advantages for Sea transform compared to Hough…

The development was also reflected in multiple official internal progress reports of SACGER.

The following is from SACGER Internal Progress Report issued in May 2012.

May 2012, SACGER Internal Progress Report

Note the authorship order for the two papers. I am the second in both. The following is from another SACGER Internal Progress Report issued in Nov 2012.


Nov 2012, SACGER Internal Progress Report

Did you notice that the authorship for the second paper was manipulated? My name has been moved from the second position to the very last! I was never informed until the above report was issued. I did report the case to his supervisors.

The story became even more interesting when in mid-2013 I was informed of publication of the first paper in the Journal of Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering. Great! However, by opening the published paper, I realized that they have changed the authorship order in this one as well! It was strange as I never received a co-authorship confirmation from the journal, nor was informed by the corresponding author, earlier before publication!

Published Paper

Here I attached select pages from the published paper for comparison. I removed some pages only to respect the publisher’s right of distribution. You can download the full paper from the original publisher for full comparison (link inside).

Now if you compare the “Published Paper” with the “Original Paper” (both available above) you will notice that the two are essentially exactly the same paper, i.e., with exact same content. The only differences are:

  • in the title!
  • in the authorship order!
    • My name has been moved to the last position.
  • in the name of the algorithm!
    • “Sea-Transform” was renamed to “DD-Transform”.

That’s it!

Closing Remarks

It was shown above that in two papers the authorship order was manipulated by moving my name from the second position to the very last position. These changes were made without my permission.

This post is aimed to help publicly the academia to preserve and defend its founding stone, the integrity.

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