Whether 28 years — 27 years and 9 months, to be precise — is any kind of official record is unclear, since we haven’t really kept track of notices of redundant publication. It would, however, beat the record for longest time between publication and retraction, 27 years and one month.
Here’s the notice, which ran in September of last year but just came to our attention:
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 307, 271–282 (24 December 1984) (doi:10.1098/rstb.1984.0127)
After the publication of this article, it was brought to the attention of the editors of Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B that this article contains substantial content which was included in a previously published article , without referencing the prior publication.
1. Wright S., Rosenthal A., Flavell R., Grosveld F. 1984. DNA sequences required for regulated expression of beta-globin genes in murine erythroleukemia cells. Cell 38, 265–273.
The Royal Society version of the paper has been cited five times, according to Thomson Scientific, while the Cell version has been cited 189 times.
We’ve asked the editor of Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B what prompted the notice, and why it happened now, but have not heard back. We do know that pseudonymous whistleblower Clare Francis wrote to the journal’s editor in July 2011 pointing out that the papers looked similar, and that a journal staffer suggested they’d be asking for a correction.
Update, 8:30 a.m. Eastern, 5/9/13: The journal tells us:
We looked into the two papers and decided that there was enough new material in our paper to warrant a notice of redundant publication rather than a full retraction. The problem was brought to our attention recently.