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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Double submission leads to retraction of probability paper — and a publishing ban

with 13 comments

jtbWhat are the chances of successfully duplicating publication in the Journal of Theoretical Probability? Not too high, it seems.

A pair of South Korean authors have gotten a five-year ban from the journal for double-publishing a paper in the math literature.

The article, “Convergence of Weighted Sums for Arrays of Negatively Dependent Random Variables and Its Applications,” was written by Jong-Il Baek and Sung-Tae Park of Wonkwang University in IkSan.

According to the retraction notice:

The Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Theoretical Probability has found that a duplicate of “Convergence of Weighted Sums for Arrays of Negatively Dependent Random Variables and Its Applications” by Jong-Il Baek and Sung-Tae Park, Journal of Theoretical Probability, Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 362–377, was submitted simultaneously on May 31, 2008 to both this journal and Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference and was published, with the explicit consent of the authors, in Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference many months after it was published in this journal. 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. This article thus represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system.

For this reason, the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Theoretical Probability, in agreement with the publisher, hereby retracts this article.

As a sanction, Journal of Theoretical Probability will not allow the authors of the article to participate in the journal in any way until January 1, 2018.

The notice is signed by James Allen Fill, editor-in-chief of the journal, and the paper has been cited three times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. The Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference version has yet to be cited.

Update, 6 a.m. Eastern, 6/27/13: Bob O’Hara let us know today that the Journal of Statistical Planning and Inference version has now been retracted:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy). This article has been retracted at the request of Editor

The article is a duplicate of a paper that has already been published in the Journal of Theoretical Probability (2010), 23: 362–377, 10.1007/s10959-008-0198-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.

Hat tip: Nate Eldredge

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13 Responses

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  1. This is a distinct abuse, and you wonder how many chinese publish in the Chinese journals and the English-language journals. I know of one author who is now a pretty well known guy in my area who started in a far off place, and published repeated articles in Austrailian, Scandinavian, and South African journals. The self-plagarism thing is very annoying.

    StatObserver

    June 18, 2013 at 9:34 am

    • Throw us a full name, and let the community do the rest. Some of us know plenty of Chinese scientists, so we could ask them to trawl the Chinese data-bases for doubles.

      JATdS

      June 19, 2013 at 12:45 am

      • I am going to look more carefully at the papers of this person. My comments are based on a general impression, but I am not going to put out a name until I can be 100% sure.

        StatObserver

        June 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

  2. I am new in research field – so kindly answer me this question.

    Good publishers take two, three or more months to decide whether a work will be accepted or rejected. If a researcher decides to submit it to multiple places, but plans to publish it in only once – how should he approach it? Will he mention explicitly in the second submission that he has submitted the same work elsewhere before and is under consideration, or something else?
    In short, what should he in case he wants to submit it in multiple places in a safe, ethical way?

    Thanks.

    Amit

    June 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

    • Most (if not all) journals require you to state during the submission process that the manuscript has not been submitted elsewhere, and so it is unethical to submit to more than one journal simultaneously. You have to wait until an editorial decision has been made for the first journal before you can submit elsewhere. It’s a long process, especially with long turnover times, but it really forces you to think of the best journal for your work instead of sending it to twenty different journals and picking later.

      Andrea Wishart

      June 18, 2013 at 10:17 am

    • “If a researcher decides to submit it to multiple places, but plans to publish it in only once – how should he approach it? Will he mention explicitly in the second submission that he has submitted the same work elsewhere before and is under consideration, or something else?
      In short, what should he in case he wants to submit it in multiple places in a safe, ethical way?”

      He/shouldn’t. Simultaneous submission to n journals with intent to publish once implies that editors and reviewers in (n-1) journals are wasting their time. Simple basic respect for the reviewer’s time should prevent one from doing that.

      PedroS

      June 18, 2013 at 10:24 am

    • Thanks a lot for explaining it Andrea and PedroS. Both your examples and explanations were enlightening. Really appreciate it. :)

      Amit

      June 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

    • In the old days, shortly after the Big Bang, when I did science for a living, the accepted strategy was to submit to a top journal first. While the paper was in review, we tried out the basic results on the road — in conferences and seminars. If the paper was accepted, good. If it was rejected, then — between the remarks at conferences and any reviewer comments — the rough spots could be identified and corrected. Meanwhile we had established some sort of informal priority in the research community.

      I doubt it works that way today. (1) Since publication is now so easy, there are now more, and more detailed, conference abstracts. This creates the possibility of “scooping yourself” or inviting accusations of duplicate publication and self-plagiarism. (2) The biomedical research community is now so large, with so many minor journals, that informal priorities are impractical — many research communities are too big for everyone to know what everyone else has in the publication pipeline; or someone might publish my results (whether or not the work is actually independent) quickly in an obscure journal while I’m waiting in review.

      So how *does* it work now?

      Toby White

      June 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

      • I think the point is that the system does not work anymore. It was fine way back in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). However, the increasingly exponential influx of publications has overwhelmed the old peer review system; esp. in prolific fields like biomedicine. I’m in favor in a “publish everything and let god sort it out” model, wherein god = established Editors that are elected by their peers, have no conflicts of interest, and are allowed the time to carefully read the methods sections of papers. Part of the Editor’s job as “service” for a senior university professorship would be sorting through the deluge, compiling the stuff they find interesting, and sending it out to their audience. (Physicists already do this with email lists on specific topics that one can subscribe to to keep up with the news.) Since everything is published, authors could of course do their own searches- but, of course, no one has time to read everything anymore; unless your field is very narrowly defined.

      • It’s different in different fields, of course. In mathematics, a common flow is: you submit to a journal and simultaneously post the preprint to arXiv. This establishes priority and also makes the work available for comments and further development by others. While review is underway, you may also speak about the work at conferences, seminars, etc. Our conferences typically do not publish proceedings, so this isn’t considered duplicate publication.

        Peer review for us is pretty slow because the referee is expected to give the paper a close reading and, as much as practical, verify the results. Six months is common, over a year is not unusual. So we need to do something to keep moving in the meantime, and preprints are a big part of this, especially now that arXiv makes them so convenient to distribute.

        Nate Eldredge

        June 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm

        • Yeah, there is a lot of variance between disciplines for many reasons. For example, math folks generally do not have to worry about getting Ethics committee decision numbers double checked during review.

          Also, there is usually a lot more money at stake in biomedicine than in physics or math. Editors really do have to keep an eye on conflicts of interest that can occur during review. Putting the work up on a pre-print server is an appealing way to prevent scooping during the review process- but, once again, you’d want to make sure the ethics checked out first; esp. for trials with human subjects.

          Maybe if there were a biomed pre-print server that just did a quick check of the ethics section, and then the paper was posted? PeerJ might be able to do something like that with their pre-print server.

          Dr. Allison L. Stelling

          June 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm

  3. Reblogged this on The Firewall.

    forgottenman2013

    June 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

  4. I can tell you this is a standard practice in Korea. It’s not surprising at all.

    Blog to check out

    June 21, 2013 at 1:27 am


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