Authors plagiarize CME cancer article, lose their review paper

or_miniOncology Reviews has retracted a 2014 paper on breast cancer after learning that the authors lifted parts of it from a continuing medical education lesson on Medscape.

The paper, “Challenges of combined everolimus/endocrine therapy in hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer,” was written by Yousif Abubakr, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and Yasar Albushra, of King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, in Saudi Arabia.

According to the retraction notice:

With deep regrets, we inform our Readers that the article Challenges of combined everolimus/endocrine therapy in hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4081/oncol.2014.236), which has been published Ahead of Print in the first issue of Oncology Reviews (2014), contains verbatim text plagiarized from another paper.1

The manuscript must be considered as retracted.

On behalf of the Editorial Board of Oncology Reviews, I apologize to the Author of the manuscript whose text was plagiarized by Y. Abubakr and Y. Albushra that this was not picked up in the peer review process. I also apologize to the affected journal for the violation of copyright due to plagiarism.

Oncology Reviews is uncompromising in its commitment to scientific integrity. When credible evidence of misconduct is brought to our attention, our commitment to the scientific record and to our readership requires immediate notification.

Oncology Reviews is increasingly employing sophisticated software to detect plagiarism. Other journals use similar tools. Authors should be aware that most journals routinely employ plagiarism detection software, and that any plagiarism is likely to be detected.

Reference

1. André F. Enhancing effectiveness of endocrine therapy in hormone receptor-positive advanced breast cancer. Medscape Education Oncology. CME Released: 05/24/2013; Valid for credit through 05/24/2014. http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/804496

The letter is signed by Camillo Porta, editor-in-chief of the journal. Although Porta refers to “sophisticated software to detect plagiarism,” that software apparently wasn’t used before the paper was published — or if it was, it’s not really that sophisticated.

Comments
  • John T June 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Oncology Reviews should be further embarrassed by passing the buck here and blaming the peer review process. Reviewers typically do not have access to “sophisticated software to detect plagiarism” while the journal should have access and use it. Perhaps they should retract their retraction and print a corrected one accepting full responsibility for the oversight.

  • JATdS June 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    My own personal experience, without using “sophisticated software”, i.e. relying exclusively on Google Scholar ad major publishers’ data-bases, when I was EIC at GSB, more than 50% of all submissions to one journal, MERJPSB, primarily from Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran, were full of plagiarism. Under such appalling publishing ethics by plant scientists from this region of the world, at least the ones submitting to our journal, only one choice was left: to shut down the journal. Actually, I empathize with the publisher, the EIC and the reviewers, because their a priori assumption was totally wrong, i.e., that the authors were honest upon submission and throughout the entire peer review process. This highlights how essential it is to have post-publication peer review and how the basal assumption (i.e., that authors are honest) during manuscript submission, maybe needs to be flipped to “authors are dishonest”, and thus have to prove their honesty with all sorts of checks and double-checks. Although the final outcome for science, as a result of these retractions, could be positive, it’s is going to lead to a massive pool of brain-dead, supercontrolled almost militarized) scientists, and only those who are either able to grit their teeth and survive the new system, or those who are able to trick it brilliantly, are going to survive. I suspect that this is a first phase of clean-ups that has far to reach its peak (i.e., I suspect that a massive wave of retractions and/or errata is yet to appear), but the second phase will be of stagnation in science as scientists emerge battle-weary and shocked.

  • BB June 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    “this was not picked up in the peer review process”

    Of course it was not, as this is not the reviewers job. All manuscripts should be routinely tested by the publishers “sophisticated” software for plagiarism before even considering sending them to reviewers who are already doing the bulk of the work.

    Besides I doubt that they have employed any plagiarism detection software as verbatim plagiarism is a very-very low hanging fruit for these, and can be detected with 100% accuracy.

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