Retraction Watch, Noah Webster style, cardiology edition
Plagiarism and duplication might involve the same act — the misuse of text and/or data — but they are different species. Take it from Eldon Smith, who as editor of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology defined the two acts of misconduct for his readers:
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit (1). One usually thinks of plagiarism in science as publishing phrases, sentences or passages (without attribution) that were previously published by someone else. …
If an author publishes the same article twice, he or she is guilty not only of the misconduct of duplicate publication, but also of plagiarism; this time, the author has plagiarized himself or herself. Unfortunately, such blatant misconduct is not rare. … It is difficult to understand how this can be interpreted as an honest error.
Perhaps the editors of the International Journal of Cardiology might want to take a look at Smith’s editorial.
The journal has retracted a 2008 paper by a group from India for what is being called duplication. Trouble is, that’s not the case.
Here’s the notice for the paper, titled “Artifacts and noise removal in electrocardiograms using independent component analysis“:
Reason: This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and Author.
This article is a duplicate of a paper that has already been published in He T., Clifford G., Tarassenko, L.: Application of independent component analysis in removing artefacts from the electrocardiogram, Neural Computing & Applications (2006) 15(2): 105-116. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00521-005-0013-y.
One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that the paper is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. 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.
The now-retracted paper has been cited 17 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, while the original has been cited 30.
It’s immediately clear that the names of the authors on the two papers are entirely different. Although a single shared co-author might have signaled duplication of a manuscript, there’s no such crossover. No, this seems to be a pretty straightforward case not of duplication but of wholesale plagiarism. That the editor allowed the authors to call it by another name — if that’s indeed what happened — is disappointing.