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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Seeing triple: Optics paper proves to be one of three, retracted

with 12 comments

joptA team of physicists has lost their 2013 paper in the Journal of Optics after the publisher learned that the article had already appeared in print twice before.

The article, “Inscription of narrow bandwidth Bragg gratings in polymer optical fibers,” came from researchers at the Instituto de Telecomunicacoes, in Portugal, and the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies, in Birmingham, England. Per the abstract:

We report on the inscription and characterization of narrow bandwidth fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) in different spectral regions using polymer optical fibers (POFs). Narrow bandwidth FBGs are increasingly essential for optical filtering in POF transmission systems and photonic applications. Long FBGs with resonance wavelengths of around 600, 850 and 1550 nm were inscribed in several types of polymer optical fibers using a scanning technique with a short optical path. The technique allowed the inscription in relatively short periods of time. The achieved 3 dB bandwidth varied from 0.22 down to 0.045 nm considering FBG lengths of 10 and 25 mm, respectively.

According to the retraction notice:

It has come to the attention of IOP Publishing that this article should not have been submitted for publication owing to its substantial replication of a paper published in parallel [1]. Similar material is also presented in a conference paper [2]. The Journal of Optics article was submitted by Carlos A F Marques without the knowledge of the other authors.

The two references are to:

1. Marques C A F, Bilro L B, Alberto N J, Webb D J and Nogueira R N 2013 Narrow bandwidth Bragg gratings imprinted in polymer optical fibers for different spectral windows Opt. Commun. 307 57–61

2. Marques C A F, Bilro L, Webb D J and Nogueira R N 2013 Inscription of narrow bandwidth Bragg gratings in polymer optical fibers Proc. SPIE 8794 879421 12040-8978/13/129701

The abstract for the Optics Communications article reads thusly:

The production and characterization of narrow bandwidth fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) in different spectral regions using polymer optical fibers (POFs) is reported. Narrow bandwidth FBGs are increasingly important for POF transmission systems, WDM technology and sensing applications. Long FBGs with resonance wavelength around 600-nm, 850-nm and 1550-nm in several types of polymer optical fibers were inscribed using a scanning technique with a short optical path. The technique allowed the inscription in relative short periods of time. The obtained 3-dB bandwidth varies from 0.22 down to 0.045 nm considering a Bragg grating length between 10 and 25-mm, respectively.

According to the notes, the article was received  April 10, 2013, revised May 8, accepted May 30 and on the web June 24.

Meaning Marques had a busy spring, because the retracted article was received April 9, accepted May 29 and published June 20.

According to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, the retraction notice is the only citation of any of the related papers.

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12 Responses

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  1. Uh, do I get it right that they retracted the paper that was submitted first and accepted first?

    Marco

    February 10, 2014 at 11:38 am

    • It doesn’t matter — both should be retracted, since as a condition of submission, you have to warrant that your work is not under simultaneous consideration elsewhere.

      StrongDreams

      February 10, 2014 at 11:43 am

      • I believe the usual wording is that it is not _currently_ under consideration elsewhere. That means that the submission of the first article does not go against this requirement.
        The existence of the conference paper… depending on the field that’s a different discussion altogether. Apparently in optics, or at least for the Journal of Optics, it precludes submission of an extended version to a journal.

        CH

        February 10, 2014 at 12:32 pm

        • Hmm. Regardless of the wording of the policy, if I were the editor of a journal, and someone tried to weasel out of a similar duplicate submission by saying, “technically it wasn’t currently a duplicate when I submitted it”, I wouldn’t accept the excuse.

          However in this case, the other reason to retract the JO article but /maybe not/ the OC article is if Marques really did the duplicate submission on his own without knowledge of the other authors.

          However, however, I wonder whether OC considers the conference proceedings to be prior publication, and I wonder if the OC article was submitted with knowledge of all authors. Time will tell, I guess.

          StrongDreams

          February 10, 2014 at 2:35 pm

          • Two points: 1) the JoO author guidelines stipulate that all authors must have consented to the submission. as they did not, this seems to be a retractable offense. as I state below, it should also include a correction to removed unauthorized authorships 2) the technicallity about not currently under consideration may have applied for the inital submission… however, when it was revised it was submitted again, and presumably proof corrections were also submitted. At these time points it was currently under consideration elsewhere… thus… POOF!

            qaq

            February 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm

  2. Perhaps the Journal of Optics will use this incident as motivation to confirm authorships prior to publication in the future… this incident could/should have been easily avoided by better editorial practice. I have to imagine that the other authors are now quite irked.

    QAQ

    February 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    • a quick thought: The article was submitted without the knowledge of the other authors, they have done no wrong. the editors published a paper without their knowledge, hence, fault here is with the first author and the editors.

      I am of the opinion that a correction should be posted by the journal removing authorship by all but the lead/submitting author (in this particular case). Therefore, the others don’t have their reputations sullied (sure, one could read the actual retraction notice, but not everyone will fully investigate and this forces these folks to go on the defensive with their CVs).

      QAQ

      February 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      • “The article was submitted without the knowledge of the other authors, they have done no wrong.”
        I find it difficult to see how the article could be submitted without the knowledge of the co-authors. Wouldn’t all authors have to sign indicating their authorship? (at least that is what is required in my field).

        Sir Jefferson

        February 11, 2014 at 12:53 am

        • I’ve published two papers, both in the same (Elsevier) journal. As corresponding author I was not required to send any kind of proof that my co-authors were aware of the submission, nor were they contacted independently, at least as far as I know.

          johnalanpascoe

          February 11, 2014 at 3:42 am

        • You can sign “on behalf of all authors” in many cases (Elsevier and Springer allow this), and only a few journals send e-mails to co-authors informing them they have submitted a paper.

          Marco

          February 11, 2014 at 5:48 am

          • Yes, and a very good reason to not submit work to such journals, if it can be avoided!

            ferniglab

            February 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

  3. The conference proceedings are available online as a free pdf download (40MB!). The article in the proceedings looks like a real article, contains several data figures, abstract, introduction and conclusion. As such, it would violate most journal requirements of exclusivity. (In my field, most conference proceedings are abstract only, so as not to preclude later publication of full papers.)

    StrongDreams

    February 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm


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