Sometimes, retraction notices offer tantalizing clues, but no real information. Take the case of a paper called “Florid osseous dysplasia,” which was published last year in Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology by a group at Mumbai’s Nair Hospital Dental College and retracted recently.
Here’s the notice, which is suggestive but doesn’t say much:
It has been brought to the notice of the JOMFP Editorial Team about potential misconduct in the above article by Dr. Bansal S et al. After due examination of the allegations, and response of the responsible author, the investigation committee has concluded that there had been issue with respect to misconduct. Hence the above article (DOI: 10.4103/0973-029X.84497) stands retracted from the issue.
So “there had been issue with respect to misconduct.” Anyone want to guess what that means? The same language appears in another retraction in the same issue, for “α4β1 integrin-dependent cell sorting dictates T-cell recruitment in oral submucous fibrosis:”
It has been brought to the notice of the JOMFP Editorial Team about potential misconduct in the above article by Dr. R. Rajendran et al. After due examination of the allegations, and response of the Corresponding/Primary author, the investigation committee has concluded that there had been issue with respect to misconduct. Hence the above article (DOI: 10.4103/0973-029X.86678) stands retracted from the issue.
An editorial in the same issue suggests that this may have been publishing misconduct:
It is after considerable deliberation that I am announcing the retraction of two articles in JOMFP in this issue, the first instance in our fifteen years of publication. All of the JOMFP authors sign the mandatory copyright transfer agreement. In reality, I doubt that many of them have neither read it carefully nor follow them in words and spirit. With a pressure to publish, ghost authorship and complimentary authorship are on the increase. So is the perennial problem of “Redundant publishing”, “plagiarism”, “salami slicing” and “shot gunning”.  Editors, reviewers, authors, institutions and policy making bodies need to work together to find a solution and ensure that the ethics as well as standards in scientific publishing are maintained. Issue of plagiarism has been repeatedly discussed in several editorials, manuscripts, journals and forums.  Reports of forging signatures of (co)authors has been reported in the general medical literature  while similar activity has not been reported in dental literature till date, particularly in India. I request all author(s) to understand the copyright transfer forms as well as the authorship criteria as defined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE)  and then sign the copyright forms so as to adhere to them in letter and spirit. Please do remember that ignorance of the law cannot be excused. All Bio-medical journals are expected to follow the ICJME, Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and World Association for Medical Editors (WAME) guidelines. For more interesting knowledge in the subject, please follow the editorials of Dr. Berquist TH and www.icjme.org
It is my humble request to all stakeholders to maintain the highest standards of publication ethics to enrich scientific knowledge in the best possible way.
Neither the corresponding author of the first paper, nor the editor of the journal, responded to requests for comment.