Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

A new record: A retraction, 27 years later

with 8 comments

jsbmbIn October, we noted the apparent record holder for longest time between publication and retraction: 25 years, for “Retention of the 4-pro-R hydrogen atom of mevalonate at C-2,2′ of bacterioruberin in Halobacterium halobium,” published in the Biochemical Journal in 1980 and retracted in 2005. (Although an author requested that another 52-year-old paper be retracted, it remains untouched in the literature.)

That record has now been broken. Congratulations to the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the authors of a December 1985 paper, “Increasing the response rate to cytotoxic chemotherapy by endocrine means.” Here’s the notice, which appears in the January 2013 issue of the journal, making 27 years — and a month, if you’re counting:

Retraction due to duplication of data publication and text re-cycling by the authors: The Proceedings article has been retracted at the request of the authors as most of the data presented and text had already appeared in the author’s previous paper entitled “A randomized attempt to increase the efficacy of cytotoxic chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer by hormonal synchronization”. M.E. Lippman, J. Cassidy, M. Wesley and R.C. Young, J Clin Oncol, 2 (1984) 28–36. This was due to their misunderstanding of the respective publishing and copyright policies of the journals and the implications of publishing in a conference proceedings.

The study has been cited just nine times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Its first author, Marc Lippman, is chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. A 2007 release about his appointment notes that Miller is “a pioneering breast cancer researcher” who has been chair of the University of Michigan’s department of internal medicine, director of the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Research Center and chair of oncology at Georgetown, and “spent 18 years as a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute.” Two of his other papers have been cited more than 1,000 times.

Could this herald a new era of housekeeping at journals? As we’ve noted in our “You’ve been dupe’d” feature, there are a lot of duplication retractions lately. Will language such as “misunderstanding of the respective publishing and copyright policies of the journals and the implications of publishing in a conference proceedings” become more common? We’ll keep an eye on this.

  • Art Gertel December 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    And I thought the delay in retracting Wakefield was excessive!

  • CarolynS December 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    It is hard to know how to deal with conference proceedings because often what the organizers/editors are requesting is really a review of your own previous work and it’s not always that easy to come up with a completely new version of something you have already done. Sure you can go through and move the words around in each sentence somehow to make ti different, but is this really that worthwhile? I often get invited to write book chapters on a certain very specific topic and I generally turn those down because the topic is narrow and there are only so many ways to say the same thing, How much originality do people really expect in a conference proceeding?

  • Fernando Pessoa December 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    “most of the data presented and text had already appeared”

  • ferniglab December 5, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Marks the death of the conference proceedings… …in an age of paper these had a purpose (remember reprint requests – libraries were much narrower than nowadays), as did re-writing reviews for different audiences and libraries, but no longer….click, click, click and it is on your screen. In a few years there will doubtless be a comment here on “remember libraries”. People forget how difficult it used to be to simply get journal 1 from the library in Faculty A, when you were based in Faculty B.

  • Bill December 5, 2012 at 4:35 am

    Agree 120% with ferniglab. Conference Proceedings are obsolete in the computer age (but still no doubt turn a hefty profit for publishers…)

  • Fernando Pessoa December 5, 2012 at 7:11 am

    The fact of the matter is that the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology did retract.

  • weskaggs November 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    This is just silly. We really need a statute of limitations for retractions for any reason other than fraud. Clutter like this doesn’t advance the progress of science in any way.

  • Ian November 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    A somewhat longer editorial retraction period:

    I know it doesn’t qualify for journal papers, but it could be the standard to measure against.

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