Borstel update: Former director’s plagiarized 2009 paper to be retracted

Peter Zabel/Borstel

Yesterday, we reported that Peter Zabel, managing director of Germany’s Research Center Borstel, had stepped down amid allegations that he had duplicated one of his German papers in English. It turns out, however, that the reason for his resignation was plagiarism of a 2008 paper in Nature Reviews Immunology by a group at the University of Michigan.

Laborjournal reports (see update at end) that long passages of text, and three figures, in a 2009 article by Zabel and Hans-Peter Hauber in Der Internist are very similar to material in the Nature Reviews Immunology paper. According to an email to Laborjournal from the head of academic publishing at Springer, which publishes Der Internist:

We were already informed by Professor Zabel of the duplicate publication in “Der Internist” involving an article from Nature Reviews Immunology. As a consequence, retraction of this article was initiated two days ago and furthermore Professor Zabel has announced that he will resign from the editorial board of “The Internist”.

We are very sorry for this to happen.

Zabel’s 2009 paper has been cited 3 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. We’ll continue to update as we hear more.

5 thoughts on “Borstel update: Former director’s plagiarized 2009 paper to be retracted”

  1. What is the true significance of this retraction in the works? Are reviews all that important? Did this review, to be read by Germans and Austrians, really matter? Why not let him have enough articles so he paper his office with them?

    Here is my take on the significance:

    I think the true significance is that somebody who either was a plagiarist, or had his name on plagiarized paper (in the best case didn’t know it was plagiarized), was in charge of an institute where part of his job is to ensure that people follow the rules of science, which of course include those for authorship on scientific publications.

    If, by chance, he should find that somebody had been breaking these rules for publication(or some other scientific misconduct), they would be logical in pointing out that he was a hypocrite. They may have said this to him even. It did mean that he was in a compromised position and open to blackmail. Blackmail is a strong word, but what other word is there?

  2. Here’s an update:

    “Man kann sich nichts Schlimmeres vorstellen!” = “One cannot imagine anything worse!”

    Yet he has been reinstated as an institute director.

    “Prof. Dr. Peter Zabel nimmt seine Ämter wieder auf”. = “Prof. Peter Zabel resumes his offices”.

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