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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Social work researchers lose paper for misuse of data

with 11 comments

jhbseIrony alert: If you’re going to publish in the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, you’d better be able to play well with others.

Not so, it seems, with a certain Darrel Montero. Montero, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University, and his colleagues have lost their 2012 paper in the journal for what appears to be a case of data theft.

As the retraction notice explains:

We, the Editor and the Publisher of the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, are retracting the following article:

Cota, G., Hamilton, K., Haynie, K., & Montero, D. (2012). Immigration in the United States and What Social Workers Should Know. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 22:7, 789–800. The article is being retracted due to false classification of Karen Haynie as an author, and additionally for using a portion of Karen Haynie’s manuscript without consent. Dr. Darrel Montero accepts that this constitutes a breach of the Journal’s policy with respect to ethics and authorship described here, viz.,

“The Corresponding Author must ensure all named co-authors consent to publication and to being named as a co-author. All persons who have made significant scientific or literary contributions to the work reported should be named as co-authors.”

Dr. Darrel Montero accepts that the Editors and Publishers of the article received, reviewed, and published the work in good faith, and bear no responsibility for this error.

Haynie, according to her LinkedIn page, was a masters student at ASU a few years ago, and also was an undergrad at the school. She says she is now an archaeologist/journalist/analyst covering terrorism and other subjects for Thomson Reuters (Ivan’s former employer), and an all-around “human behavior expert.”

It’s nice that the journal had Montero absolve them of any responsibility in the matter — because, in fact, they do bear some. Any journal that still believes it can rely on a single author to attest to the validity of the data, the authorship and every other aspect of an article is begging to be duped. Leaving your door unlocked for a burglar doesn’t make his crime any less wrong, but it sure does make you look like a fool.

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11 Responses

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  1. “Leaving your door unlocked for a burglar doesn’t make his crime any less wrong, but it sure does make you look like a fool”
    and a lesser penalty is imposed.

    aceil

    October 23, 2013 at 11:17 am

  2. “Any journal that still believes it can rely on a single author to attest to the validity of the data, the authorship and every other aspect of an article is begging to be duped.”

    I don’t think it is practicable for journals to seek approval from each author. This is the responsibility, formally, of the corresponding author.

    Some require an e-mail address for each author and send a confirmation note. But this is only a marginal improvement. As a mistake or ethical lapse these sorts of issues are easily corrected by retraction.

    DanZ

    Dan Zabetakis

    October 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    • If that’s the case, then journals should seriously consider obtaining active consent from all submitting authors. Maybe this takes a bit longer, but it may be worth the hassle in the end. I agree with retraction watch that NOT doing this makes journals bear some of the ethical and perhaps also legal responsibility for types of data theft like this.

      Things may get ugly, though, if one of the (co-)authors had a fallout with another one and is holding all authors hostage by withholding consent. I’ve seen this happen, with the most dire consequences for all involved — in the end, a piece of perfectly good science was not published for this reason. This raises questions about how to handle authorship issues under such muddled circumstances…

      Oliver C. Schultheiss

      October 24, 2013 at 3:22 am

      • I don’t think active prior consent is practicable. But it would certainly solve the problem of too many papers and too many journals. I mean, if you have 6 authors on a paper the chance that you can get all six to respond to a request for authorization is about nil.

        Dan Zabetakis

        October 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

        • I am a co-author on a ten-author paper to a cancer journal, and the journal *did* ask every single co-author, via email, to sign and send back a form permitting publication. I think most people do want publications–it should not be that hard to get the signatures, unless you write something up years after an author has left the lab. (Don’t do this. It will probably never get published–at least, I’m 0 for 3 with that approach.)

          MaryKaye

          October 27, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    • How would a coauthor discover that his name was added to an article published in one of low tier journals? I’ve witnessed a similar incident, where some “scientists” added the name of a well-published academic to get their article published.

      aceil

      October 24, 2013 at 5:44 am

      • Easy enough: every once in a while, search for your own name in Scopus or Google Scholar. If papers show up with you on the author list that you’ve never known about, it’s time to inform the journal in which the paper was published.

        Oliver C. Schultheiss

        October 24, 2013 at 7:23 am

  3. “Any journal that still believes it can rely on a single author to attest to the validity of the data, the authorship and every other aspect of an article is begging to be duped.”

    So every corresponding author should be treated as potentially guilty of academic fraud until they prove their innocence.

    Barton

    October 24, 2013 at 10:16 am

    • Self report is often double checked, and should be, like on loan, job and school applications and tax returns to name a few circumstances. Interpreting this as an insult is a bit sensitive.

      Sharon O'Connor

      October 24, 2013 at 12:15 pm

  4. Including the name of someone who didn’t see and sign the paper is more dangerous than “data theft”. That someone can claim that her work, ideas etc. were “molested”. And that claim can be supported in part by the fact that others did not show the MS to her.

    pyshnov

    October 24, 2013 at 10:51 am

  5. When I have published in reputable journals I have to get a letter signed by every author that they agreed with a manuscript, contributed, etc. It is not hard to get signatures since the signatures could be scanned and the paper emailed around.

    Mark

    November 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm


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