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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Zero dark thirty for Al-Qaeda article

with 11 comments

ftpv20.v026.i01.coverAn Israeli terrorism scholar has lost a review of a 2011 book on Al-Qaeda because he published it twice in different outlets.

The researcher, Isaac Kfir, is with the International Institute for Counter- Terrorism, where he studies

issues relating to post-conflict reconstruction (security issues) and transitional justice (restorative and retributive justice). His other research looks at the effect of Islamic radicalism within the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The book in question is Al-Qaeda: From Global Network to Local Franchise, by Christina Hellmich of the University of Reading in the UK. The offending article appeared in Terrorism and Political Violence, a Taylor & Francis title. According to the notice:

The Editors and Taylor & Francis, Publishers, are retracting the following article from publication in Terrorism and Political Violence: Isaac Kfir, “Christina Hellmich. Al-Qaeda: From Global Network to Local Franchise,” Terrorism and Political Violence 25, no 5 (2013): 843–845. DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2013.842377.

The article is being retracted due to its previous publication in the Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism: Isaac Kfir, “Al-Qaeda: From global network to local franchise,” Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism 8, no 2 (2013): 200–201. DOI: 10.1080/18335330.2013.833490.

Kfir’s review can be found here.

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11 Responses

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  1. Considering the roadblocks to access of many journals, perhaps acknowledged multiple publication is not such a bad thing.

    Robert Mark, Ph.D.

    January 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

  2. Wait. This is a book review. On what basis should a book review be retracted for duplication?

    Is it common to expect things like book reviews to be novel and unpublished elsewhere? If so, why?

    I think some people are confusing journalism with original research.

    DanZ

    Dan Zabetakis

    January 3, 2014 at 11:01 am

    • I wonder whether this policy applies to people who publish letters to the editor in different journals. It is not clear whether it is to be considered a case of scientific misconduct by the retracting journal, or whether it is merely a contravention of the rules of the journal or its copyright.

      Albert Gjedde

      January 3, 2014 at 12:23 pm

  3. Authors have a right to address different audiences. How is an article or a book review different from a lecture or a presentation?

    aceil

    January 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    • The journal has an interest in publishing original work. The author would have signed a declaration to that effect and the journal editors would be justified to feel misled if the work has already been published. Likewise, readers don’t want to read the same article in different venues (indeed they might want to read different perspectives on the book under review). In the case of a book review, the damage may be small. In the case of a research article, duplication is a form of academic dishonesty and should be treated as such.

      uarktransparency

      January 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      • I understand the journal’s interest in publishing original work. However, this interest should be balanced against the author’s interest in disseminating his or her work to the world because it is unreasonable to expect readers to have access to different -behind pay walls-venues.
        Regarding the duplication as being a form of academic dishonesty, I respectfully disagree, it should be treated as such only if the author uses deception to mislead tenure and promotion committees.

        aceil

        January 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

        • In scientific journals, it is the de facto standard that papers reporting original research must be novel. You cannot publish the same paper in more than one journal. Most journals require submissions to be both novel and significant. In other words, your next paper must provide additional new results beyond what you have already published.

          But the case here is not relating to original research, but to a book review. There is no ethical reason why such a review could not be published in more than one place. Freelance writers will try to publish their works multiple times unless one publication wishes to purchase exclusive rights. A journal may have a specific policy about this, but there is no _ethical_ problem with multiple publication of book reviews.

          DanZ

          Dan Zabetakis

          January 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        • “Regarding the duplication as being a form of academic dishonesty, I respectfully disagree, it should be treated as such only if the author uses deception to mislead tenure and promotion committees.”

          This is an interesting point. It is likely that the author will claim credit for multiple publications even though they are just duplications of the same work. Why, after all, would an author go to the effort of multiple submissions unless there’s something in it for them? Just to “address different audiences”? That’s not how it works.

          The problem is that this usually cannot be proven because academic evaluations are confidential. Anybody can spot a duplication and bring it to the attention of the journal editors but what do you do if you suspect that somebody claimed academic credit multiple times for the same work? You can’t usually access those records. Even if you could, departments and administrations have little interest in following up such allegations and they usually don’t. I have witnessed that too many times and I could give you examples if you want.

          uarktransparency

          January 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm

          • One reason for duplicate or multiplicate publications of a review could be a promise made at an earlier time that the author was unable to fulfill as a new text because of time or other constraints. Besides, a review of a book is something that reflects an opinion of someone else’s work; how many different versions of the same opinion would it be possible to make, and to what efforts should an author go to simply rephrase the same opinion? Of course, the author could admit (at the second invitation?) that the review was done before, but would it satisfy the first journal, even when it happened to be acceptable to the second journal? Also, in the humanities, people’s opinions and statements are republished all the time in various collections of texts, of course often but not always with clear indications of previous appearances. In the present case, it could have been handled more elegantly, but it is not a case that would have been accepted for misconduct investigation in most countries.

            Albert Gjedde

            January 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm

          • I agree that a book review isn’t such a big deal. It’s not peer-reviewed, it doesn’t count much (if anything) in terms of scholarly impact. It was the decision of the journal to draw a line against duplication. However I still disagree with some of your premises. Rephrasing the same article wouldn’t have made it less objectionable. It would still be duplication.

            What academic interest is served by publishing the same article in different journals, even if the journal editors didn’t object? In this case of a book review, wouldn’t you prefer to read different perspectives from different authors? The editors could have invited a different author to write a book review if they had known that that review was already submitted elsewhere. There are very few situations where re-publication is acceptable. One is when a scholar reworks some published work for a genuinely different audience, e. g. in a more accessible, non-technical venue. The essential condition in my view would be that the author doesn’t present both versions as scholarly work on his or her publication list. For better or worse, we have a system where academics are evaluated and judged essentially by the number and prestige of their publications. Duplication is a means of gaming that system and that’s why it shouldn’t be tolerated.

            uarktransparency

            January 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

          • I agree that a book review isn’t such a big deal. It’s not peer-reviewed, it doesn’t count much (if anything) in terms of scholarly impact. It was the decision of the journal to draw a line against duplication. However I still disagree with some of your premises. Rephrasing the same article wouldn’t have made it less objectionable. It would still be duplication.

            What academic interest is served by publishing the same article in different journals, even if the journal editors didn’t object? In this case of a book review, wouldn’t you prefer to read different perspectives about the book in question? The editors could have invited a different author to write a book review if they had known that that review was already submitted elsewhere. There are very few situations where re-publication is acceptable. One is when a scholar reworks some published work for a genuinely different audience, e. g. in a more accessible, non-technical venue. The essential condition in my view would be that the author doesn’t present both versions as scholarly work on his or her publication list. For better or worse, we have a system where academics are evaluated and judged essentially by the number and prestige of their publications. Duplication is a means of gaming that system and that’s why it shouldn’t be tolerated.

            uarktransparency

            January 6, 2014 at 11:43 am


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