From the notice for the article, “Trade-off between Virulence and Aggressiveness in Plasmopara halstedii (Sunflower Downy Mildew),” by Nachaat Sakr:
The paper listed earlier has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editors, the author, and Blackwell Verlag GmbH. The retraction has been agreed because of incomplete and misleading authorship information during submission. We regret any inconvenience or harm that this error may have caused.
Not to nitpick, but we weren’t sure what that notice really was trying to say. After all, it could mean that Sakr left the names of co-authors off the manuscript. Or perhaps Sakr didn’t do any of the work but simply appropriated the words of others.
We reached Robert Seem, one of the top editors at the Journal of Phytopathology — and, as it happened, the one who edited this particular paper — who walked us through the events:
The manuscript was accepted on 23 May 2010
· On 22 November the Editor-in-Chief received a letter from Dr. Sakr’s former advisor stating the he was never informed about the manuscript nor had permission been sought from the host institution
· The EiC conducted an investigation included rebuttals from Dr. Sakr and in consultation with the other editors a letter was sent to Dr. Sake on 28 March 2011 stating that the decision was made to retract the paper. However, in this situation the author was given the opportunity to withdraw the paper rather than have it retracted.
· The basic concerns (essential rules of good scientific practice have been violated) about the paper were:
o Incorrect statements about the affiliation of the author were provided at the time of submission;
o Incorrect information was given in the acknowledgement concerning the involvement of a scientist at the sponsoring institution; and
o Co-authorship rights of scientists at the sponsoring institution were breached.
Sakr evidently decided not to withdraw the article herself, precipitating the retraction. Since the end result is the same, that seems like a distinction without a difference. Again, Seem:
Apparently the author let it be retracted, perhaps she did not understand the consequences. Regardless, the paper was not very impactful. I had asked her to shorten the paper because there was overlap with some of her other publications. Also, she was proposing a different way to look at virulence and aggressiveness, and I suspect most readers would stick with the more traditional ways of dealing with virulence and aggressiveness.