Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Multiple Retractions of Articles by Computer Science Professor

VroniPlag Wiki case #23 was the dissertation in computer science of Nasrullah Memon, who is currently a professor at the University of South Denmark. The dissertation was submitted to the Danish University of Aalborg in 2007. VroniPlag Wiki documented extensive plagiarism not only in the dissertation (64 % of the pages), but also in many publications involving Memon. The publishers IEEE and Springer were informed of the problems.

IEEE has now retracted eight papers involving Memon, seven of them on the basis of the VroniPlag Wiki documentation:
  1. "Detecting New Trends in Terrorist Networks," by Uffe Kock Wiil, Nasrullah Memon, and Panagiotis Karampelas in the Proceedings of the 2010 International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM), August 2010, pp. 435-440 is a plagiarism of "Social Network Analysis and Information Fusion for AntiTerrorism" by Pontus Svenson, Per Svensson, and Hugo Tullberg in the Proceedings of the 2006 Conference on Civil and Military Readiness (CIMI), May 2006 and Data Mining: Concepts and Techniques (second edition),
    by Jiawei Han and Micheline Kamber, Morgan Kaufmann, Elsevier, 2006. The lead author, Nasrullah Memon, was found to be solely responsible for the violation.
  2. "Detecting High-Value Individuals in Covert Networks: 7/7 London Bombing Case Study," by Nasrullah Memon, N. Harkiolakis, and David L. Hicks in the Proceedings of the IEEE/ACS International Conference on Computer Systems and Applications, 2008, pp. 206-215.
  3. "Detecting Key Players in 11-M Terrorist Network: A Case Study," by Nasrullah Memon and David L. Hicks in the Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security, 2008, pp. 1254-1259.
  4. "Practical Algorithms and Mathematical Models for Destabilizing Terrorist Networks," by Nasrullah Memon, David L. Hicks, Dil Muhammad Akbar Hussain, and Hendrik Legind Larsen, in Military Communications Conference, MILCOM 2007  is a plagiarism of "Untangling Criminal Networks: A Case Study" by Jennifer Xu, Hsinchun Chen in Proceedings of the First NSF/NIJ Symposium Intelligence and Security Informatics, ISI, June 2003 and "The Exploratory Construction of Database Views"  by M. N. Smith, P. J. H. King, Research Report BBKCS, School of Computer Science and Information Systems, Birbeck College, University of London, 2002. The lead author, Nasrullah Memon, was found to be solely responsible for the violation.
  5. "Harvesting Terrorists Information from Web," by Nasrullah Memon, David L. Hicks, and Hendrik Legind Larsen, in the Proceedings of the 11th International Conference Information Visualization (IV'07), 2007, pp. 664 - 671 
  6. "Detecting Critical Regions in Covert Networks: A Case Study of 9/11 Terrorists Network," Nasrullah Memon, K. C. Kristoffersen, David L. Hicks, and Hendrik Legind Larsen, in the Proceedings of the Second International Conference on  Availability, Reliability and Security, (ARES 2007), 2007, pp. 861-870 is a plagiarism of "Clique Relaxations in Social Network Analysis: The Maximum k-plex Problem" by B. Balasundaram, S. Butenko, I. V. Hicks, S. Sachdeva
    Posted online, January 2006 and "Network Analysis of Knowledge Construction in Asynchronous Learning Networks" by Aviv, Reuven; Erlich, Zippy; Ravid, Gilad; Geva, Aviva in the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, Vol 7, No 3, 2003
  7. "Practical Approaches for Analysis, Visualization and Destabilizing Terrorist Networks," by Nasrullah Memon and Hendrik Legind Larsen in the Proceedings of the First International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security (ARES’06), 2006, pp. 8xx - 913 is a plagiarism of the same sources as number 4.
  8. "Novel Algorithms for Subgroup Detection in Terrorist Networks," by Nasrullah Memon, A. R. Qureshi,  Uffe Kock Wiil,  and David L. Hicks in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security (ARES '09), 2009,  pp. 572-577 is a plagiarism of "Balancing Systematic and Flexible Exploration of Social Networks" by Adam Perer, Ben Shneiderman in the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 12, No. 5 Sept/Oct 2006, pp. 693-700 and "Mining for Offender Group Detection and Story of a Police Operation" by Fatih Ozgul, Julian Bondy, Hakan Aksoy in the Proceedings of the Sixth Australasian Data Mining Conference (AusDM 2007), Gold Coast, Australia. Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology (CRPIT), Vol. 70, December 2007, pp. 185-189 and Smith and King from number 4 above.
Searching the IEEE database there are, however, 133 papers by Memon, and of course many more involving the co-authors, some of whom are prestigious Danish professors. The VroniPlag Wiki documentation also lists papers published by Springer, as well as dubious conferences and/or publishers such as WSEAS, Inderscience, or Worldcomp. Springer says that they are still investigating.

When interviewed by the Danish weekly newspaper Weekendavisen in May 2012, Memon had insinuated that dark powers had manipulated his thesis in order to discredit him. However in the face of the documented plagiarism in many other papers, it seems that a more detailed investigation into his publications needs to be mounted. The problem is, who will take action? Who has the time? It took over six months for IEEE to withdraw the publications after the plagiarism was clearly documented on VroniPlag Wiki. At least IEEE has a procedure for dealing with allegations, but it seems to take far too long, in particular because these papers have been cited, and not only in self-citations.

When will the University of Aalborg take action? Hicks, Wiil, and Larson are professors there. Hendrik Legind Larsen and Hsinchun Chen (the author of a work that was plagiarized in number 4) were members of Memon's doctoral thesis committee.When will the University of South Denmark look into the situation? Memon is advising doctoral students there, organized a conference on counterterrorism in Odense, and is a journal editor. Do the retractions have any consequences at his university?

According the the IEEE policy on good scientific practice,  a level 1 violation means that > 50 % of the paper is plagiarized, resulting in a retraction notice being printed and the authors banned for 3-5 years from publishing in any IEEE publication. It seems that more than one of the papers retracted are level 1 violations. Will the publication ban be consecutive? That is, if there are 3 level 1 violations, will Memon be banned from publishing for 15 years?

I am glad that IEEE has finally taken action (and there are over 500 notices of retraction in the IEEE database). But there are so many questions raised that I fear will not be answered.


  1. Just checked that Memon appears to no longer be on the editorial board of the journal "Social Network Analysis and Mining" http://www.springer.com/computer/database+management+&+information+retrieval/journal/13278?detailsPage=editorialBoard

  2. Is the educational career of Memon in Pakistan documented somewhere? It would be useful to know this.

  3. Thanks for looking at cases like Nasrrulah Memon's plagiarisim case. If it were not that people like you care about an scandalous academic case like this one, it may not have been even known.

    Looking at the large number of papers that Nasrulla Memon published we may wonder how much money was spent by Aalborg University in supporting him to attending and publishing all these papers in so many conferences around the world?? This is also another kind of fraud since the papers were plagiarized and given that attending and publishing in conferences is expensive maybe hundreds of thousands of euros were spent in publishing these fake papers.

    Aalborg University and University of South Denmark should take this case seriously to not allow persons like Mr. Memon to get away with a rubbish PhD thesis and a lot of plagiarized papers.

    1. It is not fair to judge all the work of somebody for a bunch of copied text. It is not like, he is writing the all day and this might be a small part of his work and ideas. There might be responsibilities also from the co-authors and the university itself to not to make the researcher aware of this issues.

    2. A scientist does not blame other people. If your name is on the paper, you are responsible for the entire paper. It is not the job of the university to spell this out for you, although there probably already is a page on the university web site explaining this and there are many books on the topic.

      It is not just "a bunch of copied text", but the expression of ideas from someone else. If the words are great, quote them, giving credit. If you paraphrase in your own words, you still give credit, as these are not your thoughts on the topic. It's really very simple: if it is not from you, reference it properly.


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