Official Announcement from the IGDORE Global Board Addressing the Termination of Dr. Daniel Cebo’s Affiliation

The IGDORE Global Board regrets to announce that we terminated the affiliation of one of our researchers, Dr. Daniel Cebo, on October 1st 2020, for academic misconduct that breached the terms of IGDORE’s scientific Code of Conduct. This post will briefly describe the result of the IGDORE Global Board’s investigation into Dr. Cebo’s research integrity, the actions this led us to take, and how we hope to improve our affiliation process to reduce the likelihood of similar academic misconduct occurring at IGDORE in the future.

Dr. Cebo applied to join IGDORE in January 2020 and was accepted as a member in February. In May 2020, we noticed that he was the sole-author on an article published that month in the EPRA International Journal of Research and Development. As EPRA Journals is listed as a potentially predatory open-access publisher on an archive of Beall’s List, we contacted Dr. Cebo to enquire about his reasons for publishing his article there. Dr. Cebo never provided a direct response to our questions about this matter. When looking deeper into Dr. Cebo’s publication history we noticed that he had previously published several other articles at EPRA Journals and the Global Board decided to commence an investigation into his scientific integrity at the start of September 2020.

Our investigation quickly found that the majority of the text in the article Dr. Cebo published in May appeared to be directly copied, without attribution, from a chapter in a book published in 2014. Using exact text and image searches on Google, we also identified that the majority of other items Dr. Cebo had posted to his ResearchGate profile were directly copied, without attribution, from either academic articles or posts on other sites. Dr. Cebo’s published article, as well as some of the material he posted on ResearchGate, clearly indicated his affiliation with IGDORE. Additionally, we noticed that while the majority of the material he had posted or published is single-authored, on a few publications where he does have co-authors these other authors typically only exist in publications associated with Dr. Cebo, and cannot be found elsewhere on the internet. As such, we suspect that Dr. Cebo created ghost co-authors for some of his publications, although we have not investigated further to confirm this suspicion.

While we did not investigate the material Dr. Cebo had published and posted before joining IGDORE in as much detail, we believe that, in general, it shows at least two similarly problematic trends. Firstly, Dr. Cebo had published many of his articles in journals that appear predatory (such as the World Wide Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development, the International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development, or the EPRA International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research). Secondly, in 2012 Dr. Cebo was the first author on an article published in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry which was retracted with the note: ‘The editors were made aware of the partial overlap between already published material and the manuscript … first author Daniel Cebo took full responsibility for any inconsistencies which had occurred and assured the editors that there were no bad intentions.

Based on the findings described above, the IGDORE Global Board agreed that Dr. Cebo is engaged in scientific misconduct, primarily through plagiarism, which breaches IGDORE’s Code of Conduct. We wrote to Dr. Cebo on September 15th, 2020, describing the findings of our investigation and asking him to respond to the Board’s claim of scientific misconduct within 14 days. Dr. Cebo did not respond. We consequently informed him in writing that his membership was terminated on October 1st, 2020, but allowed him 14 days to make an appeal. IGDORE did not receive an appeal from Dr. Cebo, or any other type of response. We intend this public statement to be read as a commentary on the formal scientific record that expresses our concern about the integrity of Dr. Cebo’s publications.

We have recently written to the Chief Editor at EPRA Journals to inform them that the article they published from Dr. Cebo in May appeared to be plagiarized. Additionally, we have asked Dr. Cebo to remove IGDORE as a current affiliation from his academic and professional profiles (specifically, LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, and ORCiD). As of October 20th, he has not yet updated the latter three profiles. Any representation by Dr. Cebo of being affiliated with IGDORE after October 1st goes against our direct request for him not to do so. Relatedly, Dr. Cebo’s profiles also indicate that he holds either an invited or honorary position with IGDORE — this has never been the case, and we wish to stress that he initiated contact with IGDORE when he applied for affiliation in January 2020.

The IGDORE Global Board is considering how to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. We noted above that signs of academic misconduct and questionable publishing practices were apparent in Dr. Cebo’s publicly available academic history and, in retrospect, we should have identified this earlier. The IGDORE Global Board is currently reviewing the affiliation procedures to ensure that applicants with a clear history of scientific misconduct will be identified and handled appropriately.

While our institution will not support researchers who commit scientific misconduct, IGDORE does aim to promote an inclusive and welcoming academic environment, and we also acknowledge that researchers with a history of scientific misconduct can improve their integrity and ethics; we welcome those who have made such improvements to join the IGDORE community. Additionally, as a global organisation, we do not wish to unfairly discriminate against applicants who come from academic backgrounds that follow different, although still acceptable, academic publishing norms to those of Western academia that the current Global Board members are most familiar with. Balancing any tension between inclusivity and ethically rigorous scientific conduct will remain part of a process for continually improving IGDORE’s management procedures.

For further information about this matter, please contact IGDORE Global Board member Dr. Gavin Taylor at: gavin.taylor@igdore.org

General enquiries about IGDORE should be sent to: info@igdore.org

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