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New chemistry journal folds after outcry over editor appointments

Taylor & Francis, publisher of Green Biomaterials, says it found practices not in keeping with its code of conduct

by Dalmeet Singh Chawla, special to C&EN
May 14, 2024


A new chemistry journal has ceased publication after online critics pointed out that its editor in chief and most of its editorial board members authored several papers flagged on PubPeer, a site where researchers discuss scientific publications.

Credit: Taylor & Francis

Studies flagged on PubPeer are often, but not always, under scrutiny due to integrity issues. On April 30, C&EN reported that Taylor & Francis, the publisher of the shuttered journal, Green Biomaterials, said it had been investigating “allegations of misconduct” concerning the editor in chief and editorial board members.

For instance, the editor in chief, Navid Rabiee, is an author of more than 30 papers that PubPeer users have flagged. He is accused of reporting unlikely results, practicing excessive self-citation, and including questionable references, often to retracted papers.

Now, Taylor & Francis has decided to stop publishing Green Biomaterials entirely—after the journal put out just a one-page editorial attributed to 48 authors in December.

“It’s a welcome decision,” says François-Xavier Coudert, a theoretical chemist at the French National Center for Scientific Research and a member of C&EN’s advisory board who initially raised the alarm about the journal on social media. “Although I still do not understand how they decided to launch a journal without doing sufficient due diligence and checking the credentials of the proposed editorial board.”

In an email, a Taylor & Francis spokesperson says the concerns that were raised prompted the publisher to pause all new submissions to the journal, conduct an investigation of the articles within the journal’s submission system, and audit the editorial and peer review processes.

“This audit found practices that were not in line with the standards set out in the Taylor & Francis Journal Editor Code of Conduct, and therefore we decided the best course of action was to cease publication of the journal with immediate effect on 10th May 2024,” the spokesperson says. “Events such as this one inform how our editorial selection, onboarding and training processes may be further improved and we take every opportunity to learn from these experiences.”

Coudert says publishers are under constant pressure to launch journals and increase revenue. “Probably this pressure is the root cause for the issue,” he says.

On May 8, C&EN reported that Rabiee had resigned from his position at Australia’s Murdoch University at the end of April. Macquarie University, where Rabiee held an honorary position until February, says it is assessing the research Rabiee had published while he was affiliated with the university, and it will take appropriate action where necessary.

In a study published in May, Rabiee is also listed as being affiliated with India’s Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences.

Rabiee previously acknowledged allegations about his work over the past few years. “During this time, journals and publishers have contacted me regarding the matter,” he told C&EN. “After a thorough investigation by field specialists, all accusations were found to be false, and my articles were upheld.”


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