Sensing a pattern? Pattern Recognition Letters misses rampant plagiarism in modeling paper

prlcoverIt really isn’t fair to pick on Pattern Recognition Letters, but, well, if the shoe fits…

We had fun at the expense of the journal the last time we found that a duplicate publication had escaped the editors. This time, plagiarism is to blame.

A group of authors from the Institute of Automation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences published, then promptly lost, their September 2013 article in PRL titled “Model-based 3D tracking of an articulated hand from single depth images.”

The abstract:

This paper presents a novel solution to the problem of tracking the 3D position, orientation and full articulation of a human hand from single depth images. We choose the model-based approach and treat the tracking task as an optimization problem. A new objective function based on depth information is presented to quantify the discrepancy between the appearance of hypothesized instances of a hand model and actual hand observations. Sequential Particle Swarm Optimization method is proposed to minimize the objective function for sequential optimization. An semi-automatic hand location method is adopted to predict hand region for sequential tracking. A GPU-based implementation of the proposed method is well designed to address the computational intensity. Extensive experimental results demonstrate qualitatively and quantitatively that tracking of an articulated hand can be achieved in real-time.

Not so novel, after all According to the retraction notice:

It has come to the attention of the Editors-in-Chief of Pattern Recognition Letters that most of the contents of this article are plagiarized from the two papers mentioned below:

I. Oikonomidis, N. Kyriazis, and A.A. Argyros: Efficient Model-based 3D Tracking of Hand Articulations using Kinect, Proc. Of British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC) 2011, and

I. Oikonomidis, N. Kyriazis, and A.A. Argyros: Tracking the articulated motion of two strongly interacting hands, Proc. Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), 2012,

The retracted paper does reference the two Oikonomidis articles, along with a third paper from the group.

We Googled a few sentences from the retracted paper’s abstract and came up with hits in this PDF, of a 2012 report by the Oikonomidis group titled “Emergence of Cognitive Grasping through Introspection, Emulation and Surprise”:

In Attachment C, we propose a method that relies on markerless visual observations to track the full articulation of two hands that interact with each-other in a complex, unconstrained manner. We formulate this as an optimization problem whose 54-dimensional parameter space represents all possible con figurations of two hands, each represented as a kinematic structure with 26 Degrees of Freedom (DoFs). To solve this problem, we employ Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO), an evolutionary, stochastic optimization method with the objective of finding the two-hands con figuration that best explains the RGB-D observations provided by a Kinect sensor. To the best of our knowledge, the proposed method is the fi rst to attempt and achieve the articulated motion tracking of two strongly interacting hands. Extensive quantitative and qualitative experiments with simulated and real world image sequences demonstrate that an accurate and efficient solution of this problem is indeed feasible.

As Dire Straits sang in Industrial Disease, “Two men say they’re Jesus, one of them must be wrong.”

Not using plagiarism-detection software is bad enough. But maybe the reviewers and editors could have paid a little closer to the references here. Had they done so, they might have seen the competing claims of primacy and caught the cheaters pre-publication.

  • Akhlesh October 25, 2013 at 9:56 am

    My experience is that the editors and associate editors of even long-standing journals just assign reviewers and take a bean-counting approach in making decisions. Neither the manuscript nor its reviews are carefully read by an editor or associate editor. Senior and/or well-known researchers routinely refuse to review manuscripts. Even fresh graduate students (~about 23 years old) have been assigned as reviewers; they may become very good researchers but cannot be expected to have a wide knowledge base and experience.

  • Dale October 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I work in this field. Unfortunately, in the last year or two I’ve begun to search for previous publications of each paper I’m given to review, since too many papers I received turned out to be plagiarized.

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