Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Serial plagiarizers banned from dermatology journal forever

with 11 comments

Last August, we brought you the news that the Indian Journal of Dermatology had banned a group of Tunisian researchers from publishing in the journal for five years, because they had plagiarized in a 2009 study.

Well, the journal’s editors found another case in which the authors have plagiarized, and now they’re banned from the journal for good. Here’s the notice, which describes both cases:

Retraction Notice

1. Jalel A, Soumaya GS, Hamdaoui MH. Dermatology life quality index scores in vitiligo: Reliability and validity of the Tunisian version. Indian J Dermatol 2009; 54(4):330-3 (http://www.e-ijd.org/article.asp?issn=0019-5154;year=2009;volume=54;issue=4;spage=330;epage=333;aulast=Jalel)

Based on the report of a fact finding committee as appointed by the editorial board of Indian Journal of Dermatology and in consultation with the journal Ombudsman last year (2011) the above article was  retracted (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108510/) from the online and offline version of Indian Journal of Dermatology and the authors were barred from submitting their manuscript(s) to IJD for the next 5 years on the charges of  plagiarism as the presented patients, data, results and discussion were identical with those of an article published in BMC Dermatology in 2004 cited below.

Aghaei S, Sodaifi M, Jafari P, Mazharinia N, Finlay AY. DLQI scores in vitiligo: reliability and validity of the Persian version. BMC Dermatology; 4: 8. Published online 4 August 2004

2. Jalel A, Yassine M, Hamdaoui MH. Oxidative stress in experimental vitiligo C57BL/6 mice. Indian J Dermatol. 2009;54(3):221-4 (http://www.e-ijd.org/article.asp?issn=0019-5154;year=2009;volume=54;issue=3;spage=221;epage=224;aulast=Jalel)

It has come to our notice that almost the same set of authors in that same year published another article (as above) which contains identical introduction, identical table and most of the discussion of an article published in  Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Panonica Adriat in 2008 cited below.

Arican O, Kurutas EB. Oxidative stress in the blood of patients with active localized vitiligo. Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Panonica Adriat. 2008 Mar; 17(1):12 -6.(http://www.zsd.si/ACTA/PUBLIC_HTML/acta-apa-08-1/2.pdf)

In the  background of serial academic dishonesty, the authors were initially served with a show-cause notice and on receipt of their clarification (deemed inadequate), based on unanimous decision of the Editorial Board, a complete restriction on the part of the journal on all future articles in which they are assigned/mentioned as an author/ coauthor was imposed and the corresponding author was communicated accordingly.

Now the second article is also being formally retracted from the online and offline version of the journal.

IJD maintains a strict principle of absolute zero tolerance in matters like these.

The journal unconditionally apologizes to all concerned for this unintended oversight on its part.

Editor

Indian Journal of Dermatology

We’ve written about bans before — and are in favor, although the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is against — and have heard of one of ten years. This is the first time we’ve heard of a lifetime ban. It’s certainly a sign the journal is taking plagiarism seriously.

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 20th, 2012 at 9:30 am

Comments
  • Neuroskeptic June 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

    “IJD maintains a strict principle of absolute zero tolerance in matters like these.” – not quite. They only banned them for 5 years in the first place, when they could have banned them for life from day 1. That’s a little bit of tolerance.

    • CH June 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

      No, that’s not tolerance. That’s handing out punishment as well. Zero tolerance means that every infraction, if proven, will be punished. The term has nothing to do with the severity of the punishment.

  • R. Grant Steen June 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

    It seems a misnomer to me to call theft of patients and data a form of plagiarism. The American Heritage Dictionary says to plagiarize as “to steal and use the ideas and writings of another as one’s own.” That would seem to involve words only.

    Theft of data is really fabrication or falsification. Since the patient data must still exist in the original place, then the “new” data would make it look like there was an entirely separate patient, which is fabrication. Alternatively, this could be seen as falsification. If the patient data was originally true, that data was falsified by changing the place of treatment, the provider of treatment, or other aspects of the patient history.

    In short, plagiarism of data is fraud.

    • Marco June 21, 2012 at 11:09 am

      I’d like to point out once again the funny plagiarism of the first mentioned paper: they directly copied everything, they only changed the name of the authors and the affiliation (and where the study had been done). Which meant that they told the world (and the reviewers…) that they had performed a questionnaire, in Tunesia, in Farsi, the national language of Iran! The reviewers must have been geographically challenged!

  • Marco June 21, 2012 at 11:04 am

    This is a bit of an odd story: I contacted the Editor about this second plagiarized paper a few days after the first retraction was mentioned on retractionwatch, and received no response. So I contacted the journal itself, and finally did get a response, but nothing happened for months and no further information came from the journal. Thus, the obvious next step was to contact the journal whose article was plagiarized. And now, some months later again, finally, the article is retracted. What took so long?

  • Jerome Litt June 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Superb detective job. I believe the punishment fits the “crime.” Jerry Litt

    • Koushik Lahiri June 22, 2012 at 9:06 am

      It was unpleasant, but necessary. Plagiarism can never be tolerated. All the necessary steps were followed before arriving at the final retraction and ban.

  • Hamdaoui October 5, 2012 at 7:10 am

    This reply was sent to the editor-in-chief and the editorial board of Indian Journal of Dermatology with no answer (september 29, 2012)

    Request

    Mohamed El hédi Hamdaoui hamdaouimeh@gmail.com

    september 29, 2012 (6 days ago)

    à editor, drkoushiklahiri

    Dear Mr. Editor of Indian Journal of Dermatology (IJD).

    It is with great unfortunate surprise that I found yesterday (September 28, 2012) my name display on the website due to plagiarism of articles published by Akram Jalel in IJD. I inform you sir editor that I’am a scientist in biological Sciences field and not a doctor in medicine. My “Research Unit” works primarily on oxidative stress and metabolic diseases and I’m not a dermatologist. The field of dermatology does not interest me at all. I have no relationship with either dermatology or with vitiligo. Mr Jalel Akrem is a late student of medicine, worked in my lab in 2008 only to assess oxidative stress in mice and he leaves in December 2008. Since this date, I don’t see him. He published these articles in your Journal in 2009 without consulting me, I’ve never seen these items, I didn’t read these articles and I have not given my agreement on these items, not signed their copyright and I’m not at all aware of the publication of these articles. I saw only titles out on the Internet in field of dermatology that I was not interested. Normally, all authors must sign the copyright of all manuscripts prior to submission, for me, I didn’t signed and you can check through the copyright because I don’t read and seen these manuscripts. It is only him who wanted to add my name and other co-authors including Pr Soumaya GS without telling us or giving our consent. Since it is only Jalel Akrem is the responsible who had signed the copyright. Therefore, me and the co-authors assume no liability for the consequences of this Plagiarism. I send you letter Monday that approved by our hierarchy authority “the Director of the “Ecole Supérieure des Sciences et Techniques de la Santé de Tunis” who confirms that he wasn’t previously aware of these items and he assumes no responsibility.
    Dear Editor, I am a senior university Professor, advanced in age and I work in the field of research for many years in addition to supervision of students thesis for more than 20 years. It’s not in my nature to cheat, I am very loyal to my job and I never thought this kind of behavior, I’m totally innocent as well as co-authors. This page of Plagiarism has seriously damaged my dignity, credibility of my research unit, our School University and our country “ Tunisia”, therefore, I kindly ask you to condemn only the responsible author Jalel akrem and remove my name and co-authors from the page Plagiarism in Indian Journal of Dermatology earns Tunisian authors a 5-year submission ban.

    Thank you for your comprehension.

    Sincerely your

    Pr Hamdaoui MH

    Research Unit.

    Ecole Supérieure des Sciences et Techniques de la Santé de Tunis

    Tunisia

    • Marco October 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Since Professor Hamdaoui apparently frequents this blog, perhaps he can tell us which of the papers by Jalel Akrem he *does* know and acknowledge?

      There may be a few more papers to retract, since there are some other papers on Vitiligo on which you are co-authors.

  • hamdaoui October 9, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Clarification of Pr Hamdaoui MH

    I have sent a clarification letter to the Editor and Editor board of the Indian Journal of Dermatology in which I clearly explained with all supporting arguments that I have no relationship with the plagiarism of the paper titled “Dermatology Life Quality Index scores in vitiligo: Reliability and validity of the Tunisian version”, authored by Jalel A, Soumaya GS, Hamdaoui MH, published in Indian Journal of Dermatology 2009; 54 (4): 330–333. The corresponding author Mr Jalel Akrem had citing my name and others as co-authors in this paper. However, the plagiarized paper was published after leaving my Unit (2009) without notifying us or consulting or giving our opinion, not read or sign the copyright. So, that himself is solely responsible for the plagiarism because he is the corresponding author. I explained again that the plagiarized paper concerned human model has been published in 2009 after he leaves my “Research Unit”. We have never worked in the man in the field of vitiligo and dermatology is not our field of research. We are scientist biological sciences not a medicine dermatologist doctor. The editor of IJD explained the retraction reason by the fact that the authors had not given sufficient clarification (please see below in the retraction notices “In the background of serial academic dishonesty, the authors were initially served with a show-cause notice and on receipt of their clarification (deemed inadequate), based on unanimous decision of the Editorial Board, a complete restriction on the part of the journal on all future articles in which they are assigned/mentioned as an author/ coauthor was imposed and the corresponding author was communicated accordingly. Now the second article is also being formally retracted from the online and offline version of the journal. IJD® maintains a strict principle of absolute zero tolerance in matters like these.- Editor, IJD®”
    However, me Pr Hamdaoui, I never receive any e-mail or correspondence from the editor about this subject from the IJD. Therefore the editor board is free to provide any documents which can contradict this fact. Additionally, I have received from the author Jalel Akrem an E-mail in French language “See below” which confirms that I not have any responsibility in the publication of these papers and he is the only responsible of all work assessed on vitiligo research. Accordingly, I decline any responsibility for me, my “research unit” and my institution “ESSTST.”
    E-mail of Jalel Akram
    AKREM Jalel
    1 oct. (Il y a 8 jours)

    à moi

    bonjour Professeur,

    Je n’étais jamais ingrat et je le serai jamais.Je suis totalement reconnaissant à tout ce que vous aviez fait et vous faites pour moi.que le bon dieu soit le témoin sur mes paroles.
    soyez rassuré que je ne reconnais à votre égard que le respect et l’estime.
    Pour l’article dont dont il existe un conflit,j’ai envoyé une lettre explicative à l’éditeur de l’IJD. Je lui ai expliqué que j’ai cité votre nom en tant que directeur de thèse mais que vous n’êtes en rien de tout ça; que je suis l’unique membre de l’unité qui travaille sur le vitiligo et que si jamais ils tiennent à pointer quelqu’un de plagiaire; c’est à moi qu’il faudrait le faire.
    Ils m’ont expliqué que la lettre dont ils envoyé à world press me concerne moi seulement et strictement et qu’à la citation de votre nom sur le web aucune note ne s’affichait à votre égard. Je redemanderai aux responsables de l’IJD de vous faire épargner de cet affaire et je vous mettrai en copie.
    Je vous répète, encore, le témoignage de ma profonde reconnaissance et mon total respect.
    Jalel

    • Koushik Lahiri October 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      1. The journal is never obliged to correspond with anyone other than the corresponding author.
      2. The journal finds it preposterous that the co-author had not noticed the publication even after three years of it being published and came to know about it only when it was featured in the Retraction Watch.
      3. Lack of awareness/ignorance can never be accepted as defence.
      4. The journal has no means of ascertaining the veracity of the facts that have now been put forward by the co-author.
      5. If the co-author had communicated to us disowning his authorship after it was published and until it was retracted, the journal could have taken a look into it.
      6. Now the matter is closed and there will be no further communications on this matter from the Indian Journal of Dermatology.

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