Mistaken punctuation, misreferencing, and other euphemisms for plagiarism
The first, an article about apartheid, was presented at a student conference and published in the Polyvocia: The SOAS Journal of Graduate Research. It was later retracted because the author “should have used quotation marks around material written verbatim from that source.”
Here’s the notice:
Retraction: Danielle Faye Tran, Post-TRC South African writing and the trauma of apartheid, Polyvocia, vol. 4, (2012), 53-69. The author was required to acknowledge an external source regarding the phrasing of a few of the sentences in the article. Moreover, in a small number of cases the author, while properly citing the source, should have used quotation marks around material written verbatim from that source. Although this was found to be in honest error, rather than issue a correction, the author has decided to retract the article.
We’ve contacted both the journal editor and author, with no response.
The other is from a paper in Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging on mitigating the harmful side effects of radiation therapy in cancer patients. Although the word “plagiarism” appears, you’ll see that the obfuscation is even shorter and sweeter here, in the notice for “Radiation Sialadenitis Induced by High-dose Radioactive Iodine Therapy”:
The senior author (J. Lee) and the first author (S. Y. Jeong) have retracted this review article due to misconduct. They have discovered multiple instances of misreferencing and misquotation in the text which raise the concern of potential plagiarism.
The paper has been cited once, in another paper by corresponding author Jaetae Lee, who gave us a more detailed description of the “misreferencing” (this statement has been lightly edited for grammar and spelling in consideration of the fact that English is not Lee’s first language):
First of all, we feel sorry to the science community regarding retracting this article.
This article was published in April 2010, in the second issue of English version of this journal. From 2010, Nucl Med Mol Imaging changed to publish articles in the English language, while previously it was a Korean-language journal. I was asked to write a review article about an issue, entitled “radioiodine induced sialadenitis.” Because we had prepared a review article in Korean, I asked someone to translate it into English for the new journal format.
That article seemed to be well-written to me, and I submitted it for publication.
Two-and half years later, I have accidentally found that there were some misconducts in text. Some sentences were copied from one article without mentioning that reference. Furthermore, some descriptions were almost the same as in another article.
It was a special circumstance that happened during transforming the format from a Korean-language based to an English-based journal. Regardless, that was our serious fault for not checking it. Because the resident, who was first author, did not include the reference he copied from, I was not able to check it that time.
That journal also did not have a checking program for these kinds of misconduct at that time. Thus we reported it to the editorial board as soon as perceiving it, and asked for the voluntary retraction of the article from journal.
Writing an English article must have been a big stressful event for the first author, even for me. That could be one of main causes for this happening. We were preparing the draft for Korean language but did not finish that.
Because we were notified of the change in the format of the journal while we were preparing the article, we have to rewrite it for English language before submission. Thus, it was not plagiarized in Korean.
Hat tip: Rolf Degen