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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Giving thanks for plagiarism detection software: Catching up on retractions for the sincerest form of flattery

with 6 comments

Today, on Thanksgiving in the U.S., Retraction Watch is taking a bit of a holiday as we dig into some turkey — not to be confused with retractions from Turkey. We’d like to give thanks for the thousands of Retraction Watch readers all over the world who’ve helped us shine a spotlight on the scientific process, warts and all.

And we imagine that journal editors around the globe are giving thanks to plagiarism detection software such as iThenticate, so today’s post is a roundup of some recent retractions for plagiarism:

1. BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, “In Vitro antioxidant and anticancer activity of young Zingiber officinale against human breast carcinoma cell lines,” by Shahedur Rahman, Faizus Salehin and Asif Iqbal:

The journal has retracted this article (Rahman, S et al., BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11:76) because it contains large portions of text that were duplicated from articles previously published in The Journal of Medicinal Plants Research (Ghasemzadeh A, et al, Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 2011, 5(14):3247-3255) and Molecules (Ghasemzadeh A, et al., Molecules 2010, (15):7907-7922).

2. Molecular Cancer, “Application of cytology and molecular biology in diagnosing premalignant or malignant oral lesions,” by Ravi Mehrotra, Anurag Gupta, Mamta Singh,and Rahela Ibrahim:

The authors would like to retract the article “Application of cytology and molecular biology in diagnosing premalignant or malignant oral lesions” [1]. After publication of the article it came to light that large portions of the article are duplicated from a previously published article [2]. The authors apologize to the readers, reviewers, and Editors of Molecular Cancer for the inconvenience caused.

3. Photonic Network Communications,An approach to evaluate the effects of virtual topology on in-band crosstalk attack propagation in transparent optical networks,” by Yonghua Xiao, Yunfeng Peng, Zeyu Sun, Changming Zhao, and Keping Long:

This paper has been retracted because it is copied, in parts, from the publication of another author without permission or justification.

4. Renewable Energy, “Comparison of Chemical and Biological Pretreatment of Corn Straw for Biogas Production by Anaerobic Digestion,” by Weizhang Zhong, Zhongzhi Zhang, Wei Qiao, Pengcheng Fu, and Man Liu:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

The authors have plagiarized part of a paper that had already appeared in ‘Improving biogas production of cornstalk through chemical and biological pretreatment: a preliminary comparison study’; Transactions of the CSAE, 19, (2003) 209–213.

One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that their work is original and has not appeared in a publication elsewhere. Re-use of any data should be appropriately cited. As such this article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system. The scientific community takes a very strong view on this matter and apologies are offered to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process.

Noteworthy: We can’t find the 2003 paper this allegedly plagiarized, so it’s not clear if this was actually duplication of the authors’ previous work — in which case plagiarism is an, um….straw man.

5. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, “Experimental FT-IR, FT-Raman spectra and quantum chemical studies of optimized molecular structures, conformers and vibrational characteristics of nicotinic acid and thio-nicotinic acid,” by Priyanka Singh, T.K. Yadav, M. Karabacak, R.A. Yadav, and N.P. Singh:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

This article has been retracted because the authors have copied several parts of the following already published paper without permission of the authors: Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, Volume 79, Issue 5, September 2011, Pages 1316–1325. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.saa.2011.04.062.

Noteworthy: R.A. Yadav is an author on both papers, and both studies appeared in the same journal. So this could have been called duplication, too.

We’ll leave you with the words of Thorakkal Shamim, who writes in the Saudi Journal of Anesthesia:

I had reported a case of pemphigus vulgaris in oral cavity in May-Aug 2007 issue ofSaudi Dental Journal. The article was plagiarized by Indian authors and they published the same article in July-Sept 2010 issue of Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry.The authors copied the entire text (introduction, case report, discussion, conclusion, photomicrograph [Figure 4], and direct immunofluorescence photograph) from the original article. They changed the department and presented the case as if it occurred in a pediatric patient.

Here’s what Shamim would like to see in future cases:

The authors should inform the editor of a journal where a plagiarized article is published. Both original and plagiarized articles should be produced in hard and soft copy, with the plagiarized part highlighted. The author should also ask the editor to form a disciplinary committee to investigate the case of plagiarism. If the evidence of plagiarism is convincing, the editor should refer the case to the chief editor and other staff members with a request to arrange a disciplinary meeting. The editor of the journal where the plagiarized article is published should communicate with the editor of the journal containing the original article to rectify the matter. The allegedly plagiarized article has to be temporarily retracted from publication and a notice should be published in the journal. The plagiarist should provide an explanation. In case of non-response in the stipulated time or an unsatisfactory explanation, the article should be permanently retracted, and the author blacklisted and debarred for submitting an article to a particular journal for at least 5 years. The concerned head of the institution and head of the department of the author’s institute have to be notified. Even though there are setbacks from the higher authorities, it is the prime duty of the author and the editor to take strong decisions to tackle plagiarism at the earliest to avoid unethical publishing.

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6 Responses

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  1. And thank you two for all the laughs and all the groans, for checking into the background and the questions surrounding each instance, for reminding journals of their obligations, and for maintaining this site so that retractions do not sink into oblivion the day after they are published.

    JudyH

    November 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    • I second that, keep up the good work RW!

      JK

      November 23, 2012 at 8:12 am

  2. “The concerned head of the institution and head of the department of the author’s institute have to be notified. ”
    In the case of the Indian plagiarists it would not be necessary as both the Director and the Head of the Department are the “authors” of the paper that has been lifted verbatim from Thorakkal Shamim’s work. However, there should be an additional punishment for a lack of sophistication and imagination while committing fraud.

    chirality

    November 23, 2012 at 7:45 am

  3. RW, thank you for all your efforts in cleaning the Augean stables in academic publishing by providing a platform to expose all kinds of misconduct, which some editors/publishers/institutions vigorously try to cover up!

    Can I donate to Elsevier plagiarism detection software in order to help them to find the similarities between the two texts below, which will facilitate demonstrating consistency in implementing their (Elsevier) Policy? Regarding the figures, there will be no need for such software, since the figures used in both publications are absolutely identical.

    1) Employment Conditions and Health Inequalities, Final Report to the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH), 20 September 2007:
    Figure 2 provides a micro conceptual framework from which we can assess the potential links between employment conditions and health inequalities through a number of behavioural, psychosocial, and physiopathological pathways. Potential exposures and risk factors are classified into four main categories: physical, chemical, ergonomic, and psychosocial. axes such as social class, gender, or ethnicity/race are key relational mechanisms that explain why workers will be exposed differently to risk. the key axes generating work-related health inequalities can influence disease even though the profile of risk factors may vary dramatically. Material deprivation and economic inequalities, exposures which are closely related to employment conditions (e.g., nutrition, poverty, housing, income, etc.), may also have an important effect on chronic diseases and mental health.

    2) Welfare state, labour market inequalities and health. In a global context: An integrated framework. SESPAS report 2010″ published in Gaceta Sanitaria 2010; 24(Suppl 1):56–61:
    The “Micro Conceptual Framework” (fig. 2) identifies the links between employment conditions and health inequalities with reference to three different pathways: behavioural, psychosocial, and physio-pathological. Potential exposures and risk factors are classified into four main categories which are physical, chemical, ergonomic, and psychosocial. The specific mechanisms of stratification according to (for example) class, gender, and ethnicity/race explain how workers are exposed to risk in different ways. The axes generating work-related health inequalities can influence disease even though the profile of risk factors may vary dramatically. Exposure to material deprivation and economic inequalities, which are closely related to employment conditions (e.g., nutrition, poverty, housing, income, etc.), have important effects not only on acute conditions but also on chronic diseases and mental health.

    Can someone, please, advise me who is the copyright owner of the above mentioned figures and the text, i.e. WHO 2007, or Elsevier 2010, so that I know who to ask for permission should I decide to use the material?

    YouKnowBestOfAll

    November 23, 2012 at 7:58 am

    • You should give credit to the authors of the latter paper for making an effort to mask plagiarism by rephrasing every single sentence. As far as the figures are concerned, well, it is not easy to rephrase those.

      chirality

      November 23, 2012 at 8:36 am

      • Being university professors the authors are familiar (unlike Elsevier apparently) with plagiarism detection software, therefore they have become masters in paraphrasing, as you have correctly noticed.
        The main question here is:
        Is Elsevier consistent or is Elsevier very selective with implementing its Policy “One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that their work is original and has not appeared in a publication elsewhere. The re-use of material, without appropriate reference, even if not known to the authors at the time of submission, breaches our publishing policies”?

        YouKnowBestOfAll

        November 23, 2012 at 9:11 am


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