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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Who’s on first? Paper on “the ethics of being first” retracted because it was…second

with 8 comments

value inquiryHas anyone seen our irony meter?

The author of a 2003 study on “the ethics of being first” is retracting it because it turns out he had already published it elsewhere — making it, well, not first.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Surgical Research and the Ethics of Being First,” the Journal of Value Inquiry paper:

This article has been retracted by the author as it was a duplication of the article “Surgical Research and the Ethics of Being First” by Isenberg JS which was published in the “Journal of the Philosophy of Surgery and Medicine” 2002; 1: 45–54.

According to this listing on Amazon, Isenberg — that’s Jeffrey Scott Isenberg, who now appears to be a researcher at Pitt — was the editor of that 2002 issue of the Journal of the Philosophy of Surgery and Medicine.

The paper has been cited twice, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

John Hacker-Wright, the editor of the Journal of Value Inquiry, tells us:

I really have no details besides those published in the retraction. As far as I know, the author contacted the Springer office to notify them that the article was a duplicate publication. As I took over the Journal only at the beginning of this year, I was not editor when the article was published.

The paper  includes this passage:

For a surgeon, being first may well be tied to a way of life. The competitive environment of surgical training and education requires surgeons to attempt to excel. To rise above his surgical peers is a daily task that a surgeon consciously and unconsciously accepts. Even hidden within the prescription to engage in surgical research is the desire to be first.

And second, apparently.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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Written by Ivan Oransky

November 15, 2013 at 11:30 am

8 Responses

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  1. Couldn’t even be bothered to change the title, eh? Talk about lazy.

    Ken Pimple

    November 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm

  2. Not only is the link to the retraction suddenly dead. It also can no longer be found by Google or by searching the Springer search. Spooky, but I know that it was there, I found it.

    Rolf Degen

    November 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm

  3. Brilliant work Rolf. Keep it up, you have made several excellent discoveries. The other, more subtle irony, is that between the journal title and publisher hosting it.


    November 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm

  4. Again with the “irony meter”? So a paper that had to do with “being first” in an unrelated sense was double-published. So what?


    November 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    • So… that’s ironic.

      Neuroskeptic (@Neuro_Skeptic)

      November 18, 2013 at 7:01 am

      • No, it isn’t, for a variety of reasons. I suppose people really have lost sight of the meaning of “irony”. In any case, since RW can only cover a tiny fraction of retractions, I would hope for better criteria than “this can be made to sound sort of funny/(pseudo-)ironic”.


        November 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

        • Answer me straight: do you think irony is something to do with ferrous metals?


          November 19, 2013 at 5:25 am

          • (Rolls eyes.) If that’s your idea of a clever remark, I suppose this RW post might seem like Oscar Wilde to you.

            Tell me: does your understanding of “ironic” come from Alanis Morissette? No, I suppose it is worse than that.

            If a paper about the ethics of duplicate publication (or something similar) turned out to be a duplicate publication, you could call that ironic (some pedants would object, but not me). This paper, however, is about the ethics of surgeons trying out experimental procedures on patients. Not ironic, not not exceptionally interesting among duplicate publications.


            November 19, 2013 at 10:24 am

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