Tell-tale hearts: Cardiology journals retract redundant articles
The European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery has retracted a 2007 article by Chinese researchers after the senior author decided he liked the data so nice he’d publish them twice. And he appears to have done so without the knowledge of the corresponding author.
Here’s the notice for the paper, titled “Open-heart surgery in patients with liver cirrhosis”:
This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief of this journal after a reader brought to our attention that the data described in this article were the same as those included in the article ‘Open-heart surgery in patients with liver cirrhosis: Indications, risk factors, and clinical outcomes’ by An et al., published in Eur Surg Res 2007;39:67–74 (doi:10.1159/000099145).
When submitting this article to the European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Dr Young An declared explicitly, on behalf of his co-authors, that the work was original and that it had neither been submitted nor published elsewhere.
The senior author, Dr Ying-Bin Xiao, has admitted to infringing submission and copyright policies of the two journals.
We apologize to the readers of the European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery and to the Journal European Surgical Research for this redundant publication and any inconveniences this retraction may cause.
Each version of the study has been cited 14 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge — meaning the duplication doubled the authors’ number of citations, at least until now.
The paper trail (well, the pixel trail) here is pretty straightforward. Xiao was hedging his bets. According to the ESR, their version of the article was received on Sept. 5, 2006 — five days before the EJCS received its manuscript. Interestingly, ESR accepted the revised manuscript less than a month later, on October 2. The EJCS, on the other hand, received its revision in late January 2007, and accepted the paper the following day.
ESR EJCS clearly was right to retract the paper. But we think the EJCS ESR could make the case that it, too, should retract the article. After all, Xiao was working on the revised manuscript long after the first paper had been accepted — indeed, almost to the week before the journal published his paper. That hardly suggests oversight or an administrative error.
Meanwhile, Circulation is retracting a 2002 paper by researchers in Lyon, France, who sought to double-publish their data. Here’s the notice for the paper, “Multiple Atherosclerotic Plaque Rupture in Acute Coronary Syndrome“:
Notice of Retraction
For the paper by Rioufol, et al., “Multiple Atherosclerotic Plaque Rupture in Acute Coronary Syndrome: A Three-Vessel Intravascular Ultrasound Study,” Circulation. 2002;106:804–808, the editors have discovered that the authors violated Circulation’s Ethical Policy, as stated in our Instructions for Authors:
“Manuscripts are considered on the understanding that they contain original material, that the manuscript and material within the manuscript have not been published and are not being considered for publication elsewhere in whole or in part in any language, including publicly accessible web sites or e-print servers, except as an abstract. The authors also certify that any and all other work in preparation, submitted, in press, or published that is potentially overlapping either in the actual data presented or in the conceptual approach is enclosed along with the original submission. Any material within the manuscript that has appeared elsewhere must be cross-referenced and permission to use or adapt the material must be received, in writing from the copyright holder.”
The authors violated the policy stated above in two ways:
The amount of original material in the Circulation manuscript is limited given the preceding publication, “Ruptures multiples de plaques d’ atherosclerose dans les syndromes coronaires aigus,” Archives Des Maladies Du Coeur Et Des Vaisseaux. 2002;95:157–165, from which original data has been taken.
The previous publication of some material in the Archives Des Maladies Du Coeur Et Des Vaisseaux’ paper was not acknowledged within the Circulation manuscript, and no permission from the original copyright holder for the material’s use in the Circulation paper was provided.
The editors of Circulation, therefore, retract the paper.
As it happens, the French study made a splash when it first appeared — in Circulation, that is — with a release on Science Daily and a story in American Medical News. The paper has been cited an impressive 382 times. The American Medical News article states that
The study is believed to be the first to use high-resolution pictures available with intravascular ultrasound to get three-dimensional views of the inside of the three major coronary arteries during the month following a heart attack.
Um, not so much. …
That last sentence of Circulation‘s retraction notice, by the way, initially was behind a $20 pay wall (an error, we’re told). At $2.5 a word, that’s a pretty steep price for a something the headline already told us!
Hat tip on Circulation: Clare Francis