Should this engineering paper have been retracted?
The journal Safety Science has retracted a 2013 paper by a group of engineers from Brazil who had published the article previously, albeit in a much abbreviated form, a year earlier.
What makes this case more than a straightforward matter of duplication/self-plagiarism is that the authors greatly expanded upon the earlier article. The initial paper also appeared in a conference proceedings — the 18th World Congress on Ergonomics – Designing a Sustainable Future — priority that, at least in the minds of some, doesn’t really constitute a true publication.
Here’s what the retraction notice has to say about the matter:
This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.
A shorter version of this paper (about 50% different, it had 5106 words, while this paper has 10,788 words plus 5 original Figures) was submitted to a conference, whose proceedings were published as a special issue of the WORK journal [Work 41 (2012) 3069–3076. http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/WOR-2012-0565-3069]. When submitting the paper to the conference, authors did not noticed that copyright had been automatically granted to this journal. Thus, they did not know the short paper will be published when they submitted an extended version to Safety Science. The third author of the Safety Science paper (Dr. Éder Henriqson) was not co-author of the conference paper, and not aware of its publication in WORK.
We have seen cases in which journals have retracted abstracts from supplement issues. Toxicology, for example, yanked several last year.
We’re tempted to ask whether this is a spat between publishers over copyright rather than a slam-dunk case for retraction. What do you think? Take our poll.