Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Gastro journal retracts duplicate review, but what really happened?

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Current Opinion in Gastroenterology is a bimonthly journal “offering a unique and wide ranging perspective on the key developments in the field” that “features hand-picked review articles from our team of expert editors.”

Apparently, those hands picked what amounted to the same “unique” article twice. The journal is retracting a 2004 paper, “Enteral feeding,” by Khursheed Jeejeebhoy, an expert in nutrition at the University of Toronto (he’s now emeritus), because it duplicates a 2003 paper with the same title.

Here’s what the notice, which, lamentably, sits behind a paywall, has to say:

Due to an error at the Publishing offices the 2003 article ‘Enteral feeding’ by K.N. Jeejeebhoy was republished in 2004 [1]. The journal therefore retracts the 2004 article. We apologise for this error.

Jeejeebhoy also is the author of articles of the same title that appeared in 2002 and 2005, neither of which to our knowledge has been retracted. How similar are the papers? The 2002 paper does not seem to echo the rest closely. But the others are quite alike.

From 2003:

Enteral nutrition (EN) is an established modality of nutritional support that has received wide acceptance. However, it is not clear in which conditions does it improve patient outcome and the best way to optimize its delivery. In this review, articles addressing the outcome of patients and methods to optimize delivery of EN are reviewed. With few exceptions, however, most studies are based on few patients or do not have a placebo arm. The usual comparison is against total parenteral nutrition and, in such comparisons, the studies fail to make the two groups comparable in terms of energy intake and the occurrence of a major risk factor for sepsis, namely hyperglycemia.

From 2004:

Enteral nutrition is an established modality of nutritional support that has received wide acceptance. However, it is not clear in which conditions it improves patient outcome and how to optimize its delivery. In this review, articles addressing the outcome of patients and methods to optimize delivery of enteral nutrition are reviewed. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, most studies are based on few patients or do not have a placebo arm. The usual comparison is with total parenteral nutrition, and in such comparisons, the studies fail to make the two groups comparable in terms of energy intake and the occurrence of a major risk factor for sepsis, namely, hyperglycemia.

And, from 2005:

Enteral nutrition is an established modality of nutritional support that has received wide acceptance. It is not clear, however, for which conditions it improves patient outcome and the best way to optimize its delivery. In this review, articles addressing the outcome of patients and methods to optimize delivery of enteral nutrition are reviewed. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, most studies are based on few patients or do not have a placebo arm. An more important flaw in these studies is the nutritional status of the patient and need for support.

None of the reviews has been cited more than a handful of times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge; the 2005 version has been cited nine times.

Although Wolters Kluwer, which publishes the journal, accepts responsibility in the retraction notice for the duplication, the construction of the statement bears noting. What was the “error,” exactly, that led to the double take? A computer snafu? An editorial mishap?

According to Ian Burgess, senior publisher at Wolters Kluwer who oversees the gastro journal, the problem had a somewhat different cause. In an email exchange forwarded to us, Burgess explained that the author was to blame:

Current Opinion in Gastroenterology is a literature review journal that invites experts to review and update readers on new findings in the field. The journal is divided into several sections and each section is reviewed once every year.

Dr Jeejeebhoy was invited to submit a review of the literature on Enteral feeding for the [nutrition] section in the March issue in 2003 and 2004 and 2005 and other years too. His 2005 article is substantially different  from the 2003 and 2004 review. The 2003 and 2004 reviews do seem to be duplicates. Dr Jeejeebhoy appears to have misunderstood the journal’s requirements, rather than have committed any misconduct, indeed the fact that (following the invitations to submit), he submitted duplicate articles to the same journal emphasises this was an honest error, rather than anything untoward. Also there is no breach of copyright as both articles appear in the same journal with the same copyright ownership.

It seems that Dr Jeejeebhoy thought that as the journal published annual updates in  the field that it operated much like new editions of a book. E.g when a book is updated some chapters change and some stay the same, so for his  ‘chapter’ he found little to update in 2004 from his 2003 version, but in 2005  provided significant updates. Of course what was required was either something new each year, or for him to decline to contribute in 2004 as there was nothing to add. Unfortunately Dr Jeejeebhoy misunderstood what was required.

That may be the case, but we think it ignores a rather important cast of characters: the editorial staff that accepted, edited and signed off on the manuscripts. So even if the retraction notice doesn’t tell the whole story, it does acknowledge an important part of it.

Hat tip: Clare Francis

Comments
  • Paul Thompson February 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

    You would think that in a year of sitting on the same article they would reread it: “However, it is not clear in which conditions does it improve patient outcome and the best way to optimize its delivery.” What an incompetent sentence. It has one major section and a subordinate runon sentence clause.

    • Pymoladdict February 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

      True. Very lame writing and in places nearly incomprehensible drivel. And they kept inviting the guy every year to supply yet another helping of that… And why Elsevier doesn’t sue this Wulter Kluwer for infringement of the Current Opinion name?

  • Conrad T Seitz MD February 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Don’t get me started on gastroenterologists…English is clearly not his first language.
    The “significant update” is that “An more important flaw in these studies is the nutritional status of the patient and need for support.” ?? Lazy author, lazy editor. [That’s a “disparaging remark”, isn’t it?]

    • Paul Thompson February 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      I don’t give a shit if its his first, second or third language. This guy is clearly incompetent, and is an emeritus professor. What was he doing for 30 years? I see no excuse for such incompetence at the technical writing level.

  • jimgthornton February 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Drivel indeed! And there’s mountains of it down in low impact factor land, because no-one actually pays their own money for this stuff.

    Authors write drivel to lengthen their CV, and get promotion. Referees and editors do their jobs slapdashedly for the same reason. Publishers shovel it into a glossy package and sell it to libraries for an extortionate rate. Ultimately the poor taxpayer pays. Well done to Retraction Watch for reminding us.

  • Peter Nigos March 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Authors identified in one scam often show up with another. Dr Jeejeebhoy published a laudatory article in Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, (5 Aug 2011) on a commercial “probiotic” used to prevent c. difficile infection. It was pointed out by several bloggers that he had conveniently forgotten to mention that he had financial connections with the company involved.

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