Readers may recall a recent post on a study purporting to show that one of the best insurance policies against a retraction is to employ a medical writer. Well, a group of Iranian surgeons did just that. How’d it work out for them?
Of course, since you’re reading about this on Retraction Watch, you already know the answer to that one, don’t you?
The World Journal of Surgery has retracted a 2010 article written by hired guns who apparently decided to perform wordthievery rather than wordsmithery.
Here’s the notice (stated, oddly, as an “erratum” to the original paper):
The Editor-in-Chief of World Journal of Surgery hereby retracts the article entitled, “Long-Term Outcome of Rives-Stoppa Technique in Complex Ventral Incisional Hernia Repair” by Drs. Mostafa Mehrabi, Ali Jangjoo, Hassan Tavoosi, Mahdi Kahrom, and Hadi Kahrom, in its entirety, which appeared in World J Surg (2010) 34:1696–1701.
John Hunter, MD
Editor-in-Chief, World Journal of Surgery
That’s not particularly satisfying, but we caught up with Hunter by email and he filled in a blank or two.
We retracted this article because it involved plagiarism. The authors, in Iran, had used a writing service who “borrowed” text from a previous article.
We tried to reach one of the authors but haven’t heard back.
At the risk of mounting too high a horse, let’s just say that plagiarism is bad, but plagiarists who trade on — we’re assuming here — a researcher’s relative lack of fluency in a language — English, in this case — to avoid detection deserve particular scorn.