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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Editor in chief steps down after being found plagiarizing in her own journal

with 12 comments

diab met syndImagine you were a cop, sitting in your squad car at the side of the road with a radar gun, when you clock someone speeding. You turn on your lights, pull the speedster over to the side of the road, and walk to her driver’s side window.

Just as you say “Driver’s license and registration, please,” you realize the driver is your squad captain. Oops.

That must have been something like what it was like — with plagiarism detection software sitting in for the radar gun — for the co-editor-in-chief of Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome when he realized that Marilia de Brito Gomes, the other co-editor-in-chief, had published two papers in their journal that contained plagiarized passages.

Here’s the notice for “Historical facts of screening and diagnosing diabetes in pregnancy:”

Retraction

This article [1] has been retracted by the Editor due to extensive overlap in text with a number of previous publications, most notably those by Mestman, Lowe et al. and Agarwal [2-4].

References

  1. Negrato C, Gomes M: Historical facts of screening and diagnosing diabetes in pregnancy. Diabetol Metabol Syndr 2013, 5:22. BioMed Central Full Text OpenURL
  2. Mestman JH: Historical notes on diabetes in pregnancy. Endocrinologist 2002, 12:224-242. Publisher Full Text OpenURL
  3. Lynn PL, et al.: Hyperglycaemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes (HAPO) Study: An Overview. In Gestational Diabetes Before and After Pregnancy. Chapter 2 edition. Edited by Kim C, Ferrara A. London: Springer; 2011:17-34. OpenURL
  4. Mukesh A: Evolution of Screening and Diagnostic Criteria for GDM Worldwide. In Gestational Diabetes Before and After Pregnancy. Chapter 3 edition. Edited by Kim C, Ferrara A. London: Springer; 2011:35-49. OpenURL

And here’s the notice for “Low birth weight: causes and consequences:”

Retraction

This article [1] has been retracted by the Editor due to extensive overlap with a number of different previously published articles.

References

Negrato C, Gomes M: Low birth weight: causes and consequences.

Diabetol Metab Syndr 2013, 5:49. PubMed Abstract | BioMed Central Full Text | PubMed Central Full TextOpenURL

Gomes is no longer co-editor-in-chief; the journal now lists her as founding editor. Springer, which ons BioMedCentral, the journal’s publisher, tells Retraction Watch that switch was related to the two retractions.

Unlike the fictional police officer who was cited for speeding, neither of the papers has been cited yet, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

June 4, 2014 at 9:30 am

12 Responses

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  1. This reminds me of an incident during my university days in which a student managed to submit an essay that extensively plagiarised a particular book without noticing that the name of the book’s author was identical to that of the Sociology professor to whom the essay was being submitted.

    That didn’t end well…

    Unity (@Unity_MoT)

    June 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm

  2. We could probably count the number of times a police officer (at least in America) has been ticketed for speeding on one hand if a study were to be conducted. Typically just being related to an officer or being in the military is sufficient to have police look the other way on almost any non-felony infraction that hasn’t been made public (and many that have).

    Therefore, I suggest that this analogy doesn’t quite do the scientific community justice, as in this case the “scientific police” still gave the “ticket” even though it damaged a colleague and potentially caused harm to the reputation of the journal. It would be an easier (but not better) world to live in for scientists if we all just looked the other way on issues like this.

    QAQ

    June 4, 2014 at 2:51 pm

  3. We saw this before, when Co-Editors-in-Chief Ed Wegman and Yasmin Said wrote 2 heavily-plagiarized papers for their own journal… and publisher (Wiley) let them replace the papers, with no mention of the problems.

    Eventually, they disappeared (silently) and got replaced by 2 very credible editors.

    John Mashey

    June 4, 2014 at 10:13 pm

  4. What about C Negrato, first author of the purloined papers?

    nskeptic

    June 5, 2014 at 3:00 am

  5. Surely worth commenting on how the case is being presented in Brazil. From the newspaper below:
    http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/ciencia/2014/06/1465293-cientistas-brasileiros-sao-acusados-de-plagio-em-artigos.shtml
    “Carlos Antonio Negrato, autor principal dos dois estudos, negou que ele e Marilia Gomes Brito tenham cometido plágio, e ressaltou que os trabalhos não são pesquisas originais, mas de revisão bibliográfica, que analisam dados e conclusões de outros artigos. Segundo Negrato, foram usadas informações que podem ser semelhantes às de outras pesquisas que não foram consultadas.”
    This meaning, as translator will show, that they are selling that old lame excuse that review papers need not have original narrative/content. They even suggested in a confused statement that many phrases were similar to other sources (supposedly not consulted thus not cited) by some amazing coincidence.
    What amazes me most is that there are many prepared to take such explanations seriously.

    CR

    June 5, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    • Mr., Mrs. or Ms “CR”,
      Your comment misleads the readers.
      The words shown in quotation marks are note “how the case is being presented in Brazil”, but just the explanation given by the main author of the retracted articles. This explanation could not have been omitted from my article about the retractions.
      However, I also showed the following explanation from vice president of BioMed Central on its findings from the investigation into two articles:
      “After receiving the complaint of plagiarism, BioMed Central conducted an investigation. ‘A software plagiarism detection showed that a significant amount of material had been copied verbatim from other publications,’ said Deborah Kahn, executive vice president of BioMed Central.”
      I have have the technical and ethical obligation to avoid the one-sidedness of versions and take ownership of what I write.
      Mauricio Tuffani
      Journalist, science writer

      Mauricio Tuffani

      June 6, 2014 at 11:37 am

      • “This explanation could not have been omitted from my article about the retractions” — Sorry, maybe a missed sth. What was the other alternative explanation presented in the newspaper for two-sidedness’ sake?

        Another interesting aspect, it was implied that some committee will judge the case again for another version, probably to present their conclusions to CNPq, who judges potential cases of misconduct in the country. This seems like an interesting aspect to cover in future news on the subject!..

        Thanks for showing up here!

        CR

        June 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      • PS.: note that what BioMed Central stated is not a version or explanation but checked facts, no?

        CR

        June 6, 2014 at 1:20 pm

        • 1) There are two positions in my article for authors (the lead author and the Brazilian Society of Diabetes) and BioMed Central itself because only they answered my questions until the time of closing of the issue.
          2) I sent questions on Tuesday (June 4) to the Commission of Integrity in Scientific Activity, of CNPq, and also for the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Both institutions have not responded if they know these retractions and if they will take action.
          3) I’m fully available to researchers who wish to express their opinions on the subject. Once more and vainly, it seems again.
          4) At least for now, I can only show statements about these retractions as versions on the facts.

          Mauricio Tuffani

          June 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

          • Sorry if you feel I am attacking the publication of the case, which I actually find it very productive. Peace: I am not. Most retractions of Brazilian papers are actually ignored by newspapers, and actually several do not even show here in RW blog (e.g. retractions inside Scielo).
            I would however personally highlight that Biomed Central did not retract the papers because of their personal judgment or any particular version about what happened, but because copyright is a serious legal issue.
            About versions and interpretations, it would have been interesting to the general lay public — outside of Retraction Watch blog — to state that COPE and the international scientific community in general, do not approve of unacknowledged copied material of any kind in any kind of scientific publication. This would not need to be said by any specific person, as it is a written agreement. Maybe this is the point of dispute here, maybe this specific information is not trivial for a reporter.

            CR

            June 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm

            • I’m sorry too. A real journalist doesn’t accept peace. He prefers the napalm’s smell at morning. As the Corleone family’s lawyer said, “this is business, not personal”.
              You can, of course, return to your ivory tower after saying that there is “a written agreement” that “would not need to be said by any specific person.” It’s a good shield, specially with your suggestion to reveal to the poor mortals outside the academy that “the international scientific community in general, the unacknowledged not approve of copied materials of any kind in any kind of scientific publication.”
              Actually, we’re talking about a community that lives in a protected environment, for good and for evil. And so should be, OK. Unfortunately it has been for evil when it comes to issues that few are willing to do what it does Retraction Watch.
              What really seems to be not trivial is not that “copyright is a serious legal issue”, but what matters to the public interest while they are not exhausted other instances related to the case. (Besides, of course, the right of authors to the contradictory and full defense. As I’ve already said, at least for now, I can only show statements about these retractions as versions on the facts.)
              Will public institutions involved investigate this retraction and others, such as the SciELO’s cases mentioned here? Besides salaries and operating expenses, was there spending of public money for such studies? Doesn’t it matter to the “scientific community in general”?

              Mauricio Tuffani

              June 7, 2014 at 11:57 am

              • Not sure if I get your point there, but it seems we agree. Verbatim plagiarism can be investigated in few minutes by any person. I find unlikely that the publisher made a mistake. Plagiarism is outside the ivory tower for being a crime, and in the academia such is frequently funded with public money.

                CR

                June 7, 2014 at 7:01 pm


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