Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Journal retracts nutrition paper, citing authors’ “unethical behavior”

with 5 comments

A journal has retracted a paper for a somewhat unusual reason — and swapped the article with an entirely new paper by different authors.

The journal, Materia Socio-Medica, said it’s retracting a paper about diet in dialysis patients because of some of the authors “un-ethical behaviors” in previous issues of the journal. In its place, the journal has published a paper about tuberculosis, also a curious move.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Effect of Diet Education on Blood Pressure Changes and Interdialytic Weight in Hemodialysis Patients Admitted in Hajar Hospital in Shahrekord:” 

RETRACTED PAPERS FROM THE JOURNAL “MATERIA SOCIO-MEDICA” Concerning un-ethical behaviors of some authors of the papers published in previous issues of the journal “Materia Socio-Medica” Editorial Board and me as Editor-in-Chief decided to retract a paper. We follow COPE Retraction Guidelines (http://publicationethics.org/files/retraction%20guidelines_0.pdf) and publish a separately citation for retracted article. The case is: Jafari F, Mobasheri M, Mirzaeian R, Effect of Diet Education on Blood Pressure Changes and Interdialytic Weight in Hemodialysis Patients Admitted in Hajar Hospital in Shahrekord. Mater Sociomed. 2014 Aug; 26(4): 228-230. (RETRACTED). Changed with the article: Cukic V, Ustamujic A. Tuberculosis Pleurisy – Diagnostic Difficulties. Mater Sociomed. 2014 Aug; 26(4): 228-230.

The editor-in-chief, Izet Masic, did not respond to our emails.

The notice cites problems with previous issues of the journal, but we couldn’t find any other papers published by any of the other authors in previous issues of the journal. However, we did find another copy of the paper published in the same journal only months after the retracted version — the retracted paper was published in August, 2014, and another version appeared in October, 2014.

The new article, “Tuberculous Pleurisy – Diagnostic Difficulties,” has taken the original paper’s place in the August 2014 issue of the journal.

Materia Socio-Medica is not indexed by Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

We contacted corresponding author Mahmoud Mobasheri, at the Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences in Iran, and will update if we hear anything back.

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Comments
  • anonymous August 2, 2016 at 4:29 am

    That’s a nice replacement article. It reminds me of a similar open access article published only months beforehand (April 25th vs. a received date of 25th May):

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4021261/

    If you do a search in the article above for different phrases found in the Materia Socio-Medica TB paper, you can find substantial unattributed overlap.

    For instance:

    Materia Socio-Medica paper:

    “The diagnosis can also be established with demonstration of classical tuberculous granulomas in the pleura or with reasonable certainty by demonstrating elevated levels of adenosine deaminase (ADA) or gamainterferon (IFNγ) in the pleural fluid”

    Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases Paper:

    “The diagnosis can also be established with demonstration of classical granulomas in the pleura or reasonable certainty by demonstrating elevated levels of adenosine deaminase (ADA) or interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) in the pleural fluid.”

    • Neuroskeptic August 2, 2016 at 8:06 am

      Well spotted anonymous. Turnitin detects that 28% of the text, excluding the bibliography, overlaps with a previous source:

      Tuberculous Pleurisy: An Update by Doosoo Jeon. Tuberc Respir Dis. 2014 Apr;76(4):153-159. http://dx.doi.org/10.4046/trd.2014.76.4.153

      Then again the Methods and the Results sections look original, so it’s not the worst case I’ve seen.

    • Debora Weber-Wulff August 2, 2016 at 11:05 am

      Even better than trusting some random number generated by an unknown algorithm (most of the overlap is in the references), why not put both articles into a comparator/differ program such as http://people.f4.htw-berlin.de/~weberwu/simtexter/app.html (a program written by one of my students and based on Dick Grune’s sim_text) and examine the results closely? One can quickly see that

      * Korea -> Bosnien-Herzegovina
      * Some words have been pluralized or minor word order changes done
      * The Doosoo Jeon paper is listed as source 1 (although this does not excuse the text overlap)
      * All the other sources are a subset of the Doosoo Jeon paper (with many typos in author names)
      * Data is different

      This type of text overlap has been referred to as the template technique by Jeffrey Beall [https://scholarlyoa.com/2015/10/20/biomed-central-accepts-and-quickly-publishes-an-obvious-junk-paper/].

      • Neuroskeptic August 2, 2016 at 1:34 pm

        That’s a good approach. But just to be clear, I excluded the bibliography i.e. the references from the Turnitin comparison!

        • Debora Weber-Wulff August 4, 2016 at 9:55 am

          Except that Turnitin does not always recognize the references 🙂 I have tested this repeatedly. I do understand that it is difficult to recognize all types of references, but we have to move away from trying to distill a plagiarism case, um sorry, text overlap case, down to a number. The numbers are *meaningless*, only the matches can help show where there might be plagiarism. All systems suffer from at times extensive false positives and false negatives.

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