Gluten-free turkeys? Paper on dangers of wheat-based diet in birds retracted

The journal Scientifica has retracted a 2016 paper on gut disease in turkeys for a rafter of sins including plagiarism and authors plucked out of thin air.

The article, “Role of wheat based diet on the pathology of necrotic enteritis in turkeys,” was purportedly written by a team from Pakistan and France. But it turns out the first author, one Sajid Umar, appears to have misrepresented his affiliations and added names to the list of authors that didn’t belong there. He also plagiarized, although the journal took pains to avoid saying as much.

Here’s the notice:

At the request of the authors, the article titled “Role of Wheat Based Diet on the Pathology of Necrotic Enteritis in Turkeys” [1] has been retracted. The article was found to contain a substantial amount of material from published sources. The first author confirmed that all the experiments were carried out in Pakistan, and the affiliation to the National Veterinary School of Toulouse, France, was added by mistake. Muhammad Younus and Muhammad Ali Abdullah Shah did not contribute to this research and should not be considered as coauthors of this article. They were added by Dr. Umar and the journal in error, without their knowledge or permission. The journal apologizes for the mistake of not confirming their authorship.

According to this bio, Umar received his PhD from the National Veterinary School of Toulouse, and this link from the school shows him working in the institution’s virology research group between 2014 and 2017.  He has not responded to a request for comment.

Scientifica, a Hindawi title, describes itself as a

peer-reviewed, Open Access journal that publishes research articles, review articles, and clinical studies covering a wide range of subjects in the life sciences, environmental sciences, health sciences, and medicine.

We emailed the editor of the article for comment but have not heard back. We also tried to reach Shah but he didn’t respond.  Matt Hodgkinson, head of research integrity at Hindawi, tells Retraction Watch:

We agreed this retraction wording to reflect the fact that though the submitting author provided the correct contact emails for all co-authors, Drs. Shah and Younus say they did not receive any of our emails about the submission and they did not give positive confirmation of their authorship.