A first retraction for Einstein (no, not that one)

einsteinIn 1932, Einstein famously retracted his “cosmological constant.” Now, more than 80 years later, a Brazilian healthcare journal bearing his name has retracted its first paper.

The authors of the review, about the effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation in hospitalized patients on ventilators, appear to made the genius move of trying to publish their paper in two different journals at once.

Here’s the top of an editorial announcing the retraction:

einstein registered (in the last issue) its first retraction, due to a case of duplicate publication: “Neuromuscular electrical stimulation in critically ill patients in the intensive care unit: a systematic review”, by Lucas Lima Ferreira, Luiz Carlos Marques Vanderlei and Vitor Engrácia Valenti. Our journal, like all peer-reviewed and indexed journals, asks authors to state unequivocally in their submission letter that the paper has not already been submitted to another journal. This letter is signed by all the authors, so we take this affirmation as a fact. In this case this fact was fiction…

The editors also cite a recent paper in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (paywalled) that found:

Brazilian scientific production has increased in the last ten years, but the quality of the articles has decreased.

We’ve asked the corresponding author of the retracted paper for more details, and will update with anything we learn.

Update, 11:20 a.m. Eastern, 3/17/15: As noted in a comment below, two of the authors of this paper alerted the editors that “the manuscripts were submitted by the first author without our knowledge.” Here’s the letter they sent in October.

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4 thoughts on “A first retraction for Einstein (no, not that one)”

  1. “This letter is signed by all the authors, so we take this affirmation as a fact. In this case this fact was fiction…”

    Refreshingly honest!

  2. Luiz Carlos M. Vanderlei (lcmvanderlei@fct.unesp.br) and Vitor E. Valenti (vitor.valenti@marilia.unesp.br) says:

    Dear Dr.,

    We read the Editorial “Scientific misconduct: our first (known) case” published in vol.12 no.4 (“Neuromuscular electrical stimulation in critically ill patients in the intensive care unit: a systematic review”, by Lucas Lima Ferreira, Luiz Carlos Marques Vanderlei and Vitor Engrácia Valenti).
    In this case we would like to let it clear that we (Luiz Carlos M. Vanderlei and Vitor E. Valenti) were the first to communicate the both editors of the both journals regarding the manuscripts and that the situation was clarified by e-mail and letter from us. In that letter and e-mail we explained that the manuscripts were submitted by the first author without our knowledge. We found the publication of the manuscripts through the internet. We did not know the status of the manuscripts, we were not consulted before its submissions and did not sign the copyright or other document relating to submissions in the two journals. As our own decision we asked the Editor to retract the manuscript. Therefore, we informed the both editors regarding the situation of the manuscripts before anyone find the situation of the manuscripts.
    We have sent a letter to the editor publish in the next issue of the journal.

    With respect and warm regards,

    Luiz Carlos Marques Vanderlei
    Vitor Engrácia Valenti

  3. Estimados Luiz and Vitor. Can you please indicate, in this serious circumstance, what wil happen to Lucas? It would be very informative to know how misconduct is treated and dealt with in Brazil.

  4. “we (Luiz Carlos M. Vanderlei and Vitor E. Valenti) were the first to communicate the both editors of the both journals regarding the manuscripts and that the situation was clarified by e-mail and letter from us. In that letter and e-mail we explained that the manuscripts were submitted by the first author without our knowledge.” — I would recommend the authors to ask editors to include this information in the online notice; it makes a great difference if this was indeed the situation.

    “Can you please indicate, in this serious circumstance, what wil happen to Lucas? ” — This is a really good question and I would also be interested in knowing the answer.

    “trying to publish their paper in two different journals at once.” — Now, I cannot find anywhere in this post where else was the same paper submitted to? This is very relevant.

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