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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Fleetwood Mac, anyone? Landslides paper crumbles under weight of “significant originality issue”

with 2 comments

As Stevie Nicks sang in Fleetwood Mac’s hit, “Landslide”:

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing, cause I’ve built my life around you ….

The authors of a 2010 paper in the journal Landslides might have taken those words a little too much to heart. Their manuscript, “Real-time slope water table forecasting by multi-tank model combined with dual ensemble Kalman filter,” purported to be an original paper — but it was really “Second Hand News,” to quote more Fleetwood Mac, the kind that might have “Murrow Turning Over in His Grave.”

According to the notice:

The Editors of the Journal of Landslides in agreement with the authors and the publisher hereby retract this article.

The article is retracted due to a significant originality issue arising from the following paper.

Hamid Moradkhani, Soroosh Sorooshian, Hoshin V. Gupta, Paul R. Houser (2005) Dual state–parameter estimation of hydrological models using ensemble Kalman filter. Advance in Water Resources 28:135–147. DOI 10.1016/j.advwatres.2004.09.002

“Originality Issues” could well be the name of a band — come to think of it, consider it trademarked and for sale — or a Harold Bloom construction akin to the anxiety of influence. But what exactly is a “significant originality issue?” Why not simply play it straight?

Maybe it’s because “Plagiarism” isn’t as good a band name. It’s certainly not as good as “The Originals,” the, well, original name of the fictional band in This is Spinal Tap. From the script:

Nigel: Well there was, there was another group in the east end called The Originals and we had to rename ourselves.
David: The New Originals.
Nigel: The New Originals and then, uh, they became….
David: The Regulars, they changed their name back to The Regulars and we thought well, we could go back to The Originals but what’s the point?

As for the authors, perhaps a different Fleetwood Mac song would have been instructive: “Everybody Finds Out.” That would presumably be true for the editors of the journal where the authors of the now-retracted paper’s authors cited their work, Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology.

Now Underground Space — that would be another good band name.

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Written by amarcus41

May 9, 2012 at 9:30 am

2 Responses

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  1. Any prize for guessing your afternoon playlist today?

  2. Although “Plagiarism” isn’t as good a band name it is a great name for an album. Plagiarism is the name of a “Greatest Hits” album by Sparks in which they rework versions of their hits sometimes in collaboration with other artists (Faith No More, Jimmy Sommerville).

    Mark Milton

    May 9, 2012 at 11:18 am

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