In April, we wrote about a group of cancer researchers from Tunisia:
The M.O. of the group…appears to be quite simple: Find a study that looks easy to “replicate,” change a few of the particulars and submit as if it were a piece of local, original work.
One of the papers we cited in that post for appearing to be heavily plagiarized has now been retracted, with a heavy penalty for the authors. Here’s the notice, from the Annals of Saudi Medicine:
The following article is retracted because it was brought to our attention that it was heavily plagiarized from an earlier article published in the Asian Journal of Surgery (Chow et al. Asian J Surg. 2005 Jul;28(3):179-84. PMID: 16024311). Attempts to contact the corresponding author for an explanation were unsuccessful.
The authors are banned from future publication in the Annals of Saudi Medicine.
Awatef M, Olfa G, Kacem M, Sami L, Makram H, Slim BA. Association between body mass index and risk of breast cancer in Tunisian women. Ann Saudi Med. 2011 Jul-Aug;31(4):393-7. PubMed PMID: 21808117; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3156517.
The paper has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
We’ve written about publishing bans before. They’re not common.
Update, 11:45 a.m. Eastern, 12/11/12: The journal’s senior editor, John Cathey, tells us by email:
We check at time of submission for duplicates and for the last several months we attempt to detect plagiarism. We’ve been using eTBlast but it seems to be not working now, so we’re trying others and may pay for iThenticate or another system, which we’re still evaluating. At the time the Tunisian paper was submitted we were using another publisher who had a so-called plagiarism checker but apparently it wasn’t working too well. When I ran the Tunisia paper in eTBlast, the Chinese paper came up like a sore thumb.