Duplicate submission from 2002 in American Journal of Psychiatry earns an Expression of Concern

The American Journal of Psychiatry has issued an Expression of Concern about a 2003 paper that was apparently simultaneously submitted to a German-language journal. According to the notice in the August 2011 issue of the journal (link added):

The February 2003 article “Parahippocampal Volume Deficits in Subjects With Aging-Associated Cognitive Decline” by Johannes Pantel, M.D., Ph.D., et al. (Am J Psychiatry 2003; 160:379-382) which was accepted for publication September 6, 2002, reported results identical to those published in the September 2002 issue of Nervenarzt (“Strukturelle zerebrale Veränderungen bei Probanden mit leichter kognitiver Beeinträchtigung Eine MR-volumetrische Studie”; Nervenarzt 2002;73:845-850). This duplicate publication is a violation of our editorial policy which states that all submissions must represent original material, cannot have been published previously, and are not being considered for publication elsewhere.

Expressions of Concern, as Retraction Watch readers likely recall, often — but don’t always — precede retractions. The study has been cited 38 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

We’ve tried to contact corresponding author Johannes Schroeder of the University of Heidelberg, as well as the editor of the journal, about what happened here and to find out more about how this came to everyone’s attention. We’ll update with anything we hear back.

In the meantime, we should note duplicate submissions of papers in German and English are not uncommon. Our understanding is that such duplications are only acceptable if a journal editor knows the material has been published elsewhere in another language, and gives the authors permission to publish a translation. That doesn’t seem to have been the case here.

Hat tip: @Neuro_Skeptic

6 thoughts on “Duplicate submission from 2002 in American Journal of Psychiatry earns an Expression of Concern”

  1. And then there is Angewandte Chemie, that publishes a German edition and an International edition. For the longest time, both editions were indexed – a fabulous way to increase you citation count.

  2. This is a rather unusual use of an Expression of Concern. I’m not sure whether to be pleased that Am J Psych is taking a stand against duplicate publication or irritated that they’re doing it in a slightly unorthodox way which MIGHT muddy the definition of an Expression of Concern … but as there is no universally accepted rule on when to use them (apart from the COPE retraction guidelines) I guess it’s OK … but I’d be interested to know why the editor chose not to issue a retraction or a notice of duplicate publication (although, admittedly that has even fuzzier status than an EoC and may be harder to tag on databases)

  3. Thing is, many researchers and probably many editors do not consider publication of the same article in another language as duplicate publication, plagiarism or even self-plagiarism. These researchers and editors may not be aware of ICMJE policies on secondary publication.

    According to ICMJE, secondary publication in another language is acceptable if 1) permission is obtained from the copyright holders of the first language version that was published, 2) the editor of the second journal is told on submission that the manuscript is a translation of a previously published (and possibly already indexed) article, 3) the editors of both journals agree with publication, and 4) the later (“secondary”) publication cites the earlier (“primary”) publication. (This might not be so easy to do if both language versions are scheduled to be published close together in time.)

    Medline does not consider translations to be republications–or something like that. Exactly what they mean by this is not clear, and editors may be confused by this when they set out to develop policies for acceptable secondary publication and translation.

  4. “In the meantime, we should note duplicate submissions of papers in German and English are not uncommon.”

    I think the above is pretty common for plenty of other non-English speaking countries.

    1. In fact, in my field of knowledge there are a good many descriptions of relevance in Russian, German, Chinese, etc, which are also not very easy to OCR recognition.

      Anyone taking the effort of translating these papers should get them publsihed somewhere for the sake of their colleagues.

  5. What we really need is some kind of Google Translate for papers.

    It must be possible, given that scientific papers follow a set format and are very stylized. Certainly it would be much easier to write a science translator than a universal text translator, and Google Translate is not bad as an attempt at the latter.

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