Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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An accomplished philosopher invented a pseudonym. Why?

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Amélie Rorty

In 1980, Leila Tov-Ruach published a book chapter in which she thanked the editor of the book, Amélie Oksenberg Rorty, “for the hospitality that made the writing of this paper possible.”

Normally, such an acknowledgement wouldn’t raise eyebrows. But, the trouble is, Tov-Ruach and Rorty are the same person:  Leila Tov-Ruach is a pseudonym for Rorty, an accomplished philosopher. The University of California Press (UC Press) officially outed Rorty as Leila Tov-Ruach when it issued corrections for two chapters she published decades ago under the pseudonym (1, 2).

The corrections explain the author of the chapters is Rorty, who also edited the two books in which the chapters appear. Although Rorty didn’t note in the original versions of the books that she is Tov-Ruach, she has not tried to hide her pseudonym either.  She has acknowledged she is Tov-Ruach in her CV, and at least some philosophers know about the pseudonym (1, 2).

Why would a philosopher—who has an impressive publishing record that spans 50 years and, at 85 years old, is still a lecturer at Harvard—choose to write under a fake name?

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Written by Victoria Stern

October 13th, 2017 at 8:15 am

After 35 years, philosophy journal corrects article…by a cat

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A cat philosopher, via Pixabay

In 1982, Bruce Le Catt wrote a response to a paper in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy critiquing an earlier article about prosthetic vision.

But Le Catt was no ordinary author. No, he was a cat, the beloved pet of David Lewis, a world-class philosopher who just happened to be the author of the article about which Bruce Le Catt was commenting.

Lewis’ inside joke wasn’t lost on those who knew him, and the benign deception seems to have been common knowledge in the field since the Le Catt paper appeared in 1982 (which also happens to be the year Cats began its run on Broadway). The paper has been cited four times since it was published, according to Clarivate Analytics. But 25 years later, the journal has finally decided to put an end to the gag.

The joyless notice states plainly: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

August 1st, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Does the philosophy literature have a plagiarism problem?

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Michael Dougherty

Philosopher Michael Dougherty doesn’t take plagiarism sitting down. Over the years, the researcher at Ohio Dominican University has tipped us off to numerous instances of plagiarism he’s spotted. And it turns out, he’s done the same thing for publishers, as well. In a new paper in Metaphilosophy, Dougherty describes his experience contacting publishers over an instance of what he terms “serial plagiarism,” and how they responded – or didn’t respond – to his allegations.

Retraction Watch: Your paper focuses on the publications of one author – Martin W. F. Stone – who you claim has plagiarized numerous times. (We’ve reported on 14 retractions for Stone.) What made you decide to undertake this work?

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Written by Alison McCook

May 19th, 2017 at 11:30 am

After researcher is convicted of sexual assault, journal retracts her co-author’s paper

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A disability journal has retracted a paper supposedly penned by a man with severe disabilities, citing duplication.

Although the reason for the retraction may sound run-of-the-mill, this situation is far from ordinary.

The author, known as DMan Johnson — or simply “D.J.” — has cerebral palsy, and was communicating using a controversial technique called “facilitated communication” with Anna Stubblefield, the former chairwoman of philosophy at Rutgers University. In October 2015, Stubblefield was convicted of sexually assaulting D.J., who has been diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia and severe mental retardationThe following month, she was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In October 2015, Disability Studies Quarterly issued a statement that it was taking a second look at papers by Stubblefield, but did not specify which ones.

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Can you plagiarize by mistake? In three papers?

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Journal of Asian Public Policy An author who claimed that he accidentally plagiarized material in a retracted paper has lost two more — again, for plagiarism.

Earlier this year, we shared a 900-word statement in which Christopher S. Collins at Azusa Pacific University explained he unintentionally plagiarized a paper by taking notes on it — including writing down whole sentences — and using them in his own paper, forgetting the original source. Did the same thing happen three times?

We’re asking ourselves that question after finding two more retractions for Collins for plagiarism. One lists five different sources that he incorporated without attribution.

Here’s the retraction notice for “A higher education learning profile in the Asia-Pacific,” published in the Journal of Asian Public Policy:

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Written by Shannon Palus

October 26th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Philosopher earns 14th retraction for plagiarism

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978-1-4020-3001-7Today, we bring you a case of a serial plagiarizer.

Martin W. F. Stone was a philosophy professor at the University of Leuven — by one account “widely admired and highly respected” — until 2010, when an investigation at the school concluded that his work is “highly questionable in terms of scientific integrity.” Over the past several years, he has racked up retractions, earning his 14th this spring, and spot #30 on our leaderboard.

Stone’s retractions were brought to our attention by philosopher Michael Dougherty, who found a notice for “Michael Baius (1513–89) and the Debate on ‘Pure Nature’: Grace and Moral Agency in Sixteenth-Century Scholasticism,” a chapter in Springer’s Moral Philosophy on the Threshold of Modernity.

The retraction notice says that the chapter Read the rest of this entry »

Communications researcher loses two book chapters, investigated for plagiarism

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BrillA researcher who studies how others communicate is struggling with his own communications: Peter J. Schulz has lost two book chapters for misappropriating the work of others, and is under investigation by his university.

Although the publisher believes the errors were unintentional, the retractions have prompted it to stop selling the books altogether.

Schulz now has a total of three retractions and one erratum for failing to properly cite other works. The University of Lugano in Switzerland, where he is based, told us they’re investigating allegations of plagiarism against him.

Both of the chapters that were recently retracted appear in books published by Brill. The retraction notes say the same thing:

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Written by Shannon Palus

April 18th, 2016 at 9:30 am

Communications researcher regrets “severe shortcomings” in three publications

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3A communications researcher in Switzerland has made a few errors in his efforts to communicate his research.

Peter J. Schulz, who works at the University of Lugano, has lost a paper which did not “appropriately acknowledge” another paper as its primary source. He has also corrected a paper with “severe shortcomings in the references.” Both papers were published in the journal Argumentation. 

In addition, he is facing allegations that a book chapter contains some unattributed material.

Schultz acknowledged the problems in a statement he emailed to us:

I regret very much the severe shortcomings in the three publications.

Here’s the retraction note for “Comments on ‘Strategic Manoeuvring with the Intention of the Legislator in the Justification of Judicial Decisions’”: Read the rest of this entry »

Journal reviewing papers by researcher who sexually assaulted disabled author

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Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.10.00 PMA disability journal is “paying significant attention” to papers authored by Anna Stubblefield, a former Rutgers researcher recently convicted of sexually assaulting a disabled man who participated in her research.

Stubblefield was convicted of sexually assaulting “DJ,” a man in his thirties with cerebral palsy who was “declared by the state to have the mental capacity of a toddler,” according to a lengthy piece in the New York Times. Stubblefield and DJ published papers in Disability Studies Quarterly; in one, Stubblefield describes a controversial technique which she claimed helped DJ communicate. But when she eventually used the technique to say DJ was in love with her, his family took her to court, and she was convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

Here is the note from Disability Studies Quarterly, which was published this morningRead the rest of this entry »

Two retractions cost economic historian book chapter and journal article

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markets and morality

Francisco Gómez Camacho has lost an introduction in The Journal of Markets and Morality of a 2005 issue “for improper use of published material without attribution, as well as a a chapter in a collection of 13 scholarly essays  by Brill Publishers due to “serious citation issues.”

The introduction — to a translation of another scholars’ work, Luis de Molina’s Treatise on Money — is no longer in the online version of The Journal of Markets and Morality. On the cover page, and in the table of contents, of the treatise, references to the introduction are crossed out. Where it once was in the text — page 5 of the PDF of the treatise — is a short retraction notice:

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Written by Shannon Palus

July 20th, 2015 at 12:25 pm