It has been brought to the Editor-in-chief’s attention that a paper published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases in June 2010 (Parsian H et al. Serum hyaluronic acid and laminin as biomarkers in liver fibrosis. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis 2010; 19 / 2: 169-174) has very close similarities to a paper of the same authors published in 2009 in the New Zealand Journal of Medical Laboratory Science (Parsian H et al. Attenuation of serum laminin concentrations upon treatment of chronic hepatitis. N Z J Med Lab Sci 2009; 63 / 1: 12-17). This fact was discovered by Robert Siebers, the Editor-in-chief of the N Z J Med Lab Sci, who also found that some of the data of the identical groups in both papers differed to some degree. Both peer-reviewed journals have received from the submitting authors a letter mentioning that their paper has not been published in its current form or in a substantially similar form, a fact certified with the signatures of all authors. The first publication was not referenced in the second one.
According to the guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) this amounts to substantial self-plagiarism which is not allowed and requires either a retraction or redundant publication notification. The Editors of the New Zealand Journal of Medical Laboratory Science decided to make a simultaneous retraction, because of the differences in various laboratory parameters in the otherwise identical patient groups, so that they cannot guarantee that the results in both journals are correct. The authors of both articles have been advised of the retraction notices and the reasons why.
The notice is signed by Monica Acalovschi, editor-in-chief of the JGLD. The paper has been cited seven times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
We can’t find the New Zealand publication online, so we’ll take Acalovshi’s word for the dual retraction. However, we’ll note that the infractions she describes don’t end at self-plagiarism and duplication. It appears that the researchers may have doctored their data, too: “some of the data of the identical groups in both papers differed to some degree” — at least, if we take the word “groups” to mean groups of patients, not research groups.
For those of you wondering, “crise de
fois foie” is “crisis of the liver.”
Updated, 10 a.m. Eastern, 4/9/12, to correct “fois” in headline and last sentence to “foie.” Thanks to Andre Picard, Michael Balter, and commenter Toto Totoro — and apologies to all of our French-speaking readers!