Brazilian forensic entomologist faces at least three retractions for plagiarism

After being found guilty of plagiarism, a Brazilian forensic entomologist has been forced to retract one paper and several chapters of a textbook, and will have at least one other paper withdrawn.

The retraction of one of the papers, “Forensic entomology and main challenges in Brazil,” in Neotropical Entomology, was reported earlier this year by Marcelo Hermes-Lima. That withdrawal followed an angry letter from Jens Amendt, of Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, and Carlo C. Campobasso, of the University of Molise in Italy, to Regina Lúcia Sugayama, editor in chief of Neotropical Entomology. According to the retraction notice:

The Editors of the Neotropical Entomology are retracting the revision paper “Forensic entomology and main challenges in Brazil” by Gomes L. and Von Zuben C. J., published at Neotropical Entomology 2006; 35(1): 1-11 because of plagiarism. The author in charge, L. Gomes, Brazil, has admitted the direct transcription of full sentences and paragraphs and one table of the article “Forensic entomology” by Amendt, J., Krettek, R., Zehner, R., published at Naturwissenschaften 91(2): 51-65, 2004, as well as full sentences from the articles “Forensic entomology in Germany” by Amendt, J., Krettek, R., Niess, C., Zehner, R., Bratzke, H., published at Forensic Sci. Int. 113: 309-314, 2000; “Distribution and medical ecology of the blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) of Peru” by Baumgartner, D.L., Greenberg, B., published at Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am 78: 565-587, 1985; “A brief history of forensic entomology” by Benecke, M., published at Forensic. Sci. Int. 120: 2-114, 2001; “Entomology” by Brinkmann, B., published at Int. J. Legal Med. 118 (4): 187, 2004; “The forensic entomologist in the context of the forensic pathologist’s role” by Campobasso, C.P., Introna, F., published at Forensic Sci. Int. 120: 132-139, 2001; “Seasonal patterns of arthropods occurring on sheltered and unsheltered pig carcasses in Buenos Aires Province (Argentina)” by Centeno, N., Maldonado, M., Oliva, A., published at Forensic Sci. Int. 126: 63-70, 2002; and The value of PCR-RFLP molecular markers for the differentiation of immature stages of two necrophagous flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) of potential forensic importance” by Thyssen, P.J., Lessinger, A.C., Azeredo-Espin, A.M.L., Linhares, A.X., published at Neotr. Entomol. 34:777-783, 2005, without proper citation, and sends his sincere apologies to all involved.

As reported by the Folha in Sao Paolo this weekend, Leonardo Gomes, the first author on the retracted paper — which has been cited just once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knoweldge — had been a reviewer for the journal. The story is gaining traction in Brazil because the Brazilian Society of Zoology had invited Gomes, for the second time, to give courses at its next congress, in March.

Folha also reported that a Springer textbook had been withdrawn because Gomes had plagiarized parts of chapters he’d written. Retraction Watch has obtained the text of a letter to Gomes from Springer’s Zuzana Bernhart:

Dear Dr. Gomes,

Further to our recent correspondence I must inform you that you are in breach of Clause 7 ‘Competing Works’ of the Agreement for publication of the work entitled: Forensic Entomology: New Trends and Technologies, Insects and Death.

Your behavior in offering the same chapter to Springer and Taylor & Francis infringes not only the current publishing Agreement but is also not tolerated by the scientific community. On further investigation we also discovered that large sections of Chapter 16 ‘Postfeeding Larval Dispersal of Blowflies: Implications for Forensic Entomology’ has already been published in the Springer journal ‘Naturwissenschaften’ in Volume 93, issue 5.

After consulting with our Legal Department we have reached the conclusion to terminate the Agreement signed 25th July 2005 with immediate effect.

Furthermore, in order to protect the interests of Springer as well as the scientific community we have decided to withdraw all chapters you are a contributor to. The remaining contributors will be contacted in a separate e-mail regarding further developments.

Retraction Watch has also learned that another paper, “Dispersal and Burial Behavior in Larvae of Chrysomya megacephala and Chrysomya albiceps (Diptera, Calliphoridae),” will be retracted.  Thomas Payne, one of the editors of The Journal of Insect Behavior, where it was published, told us that the authors had recently been sent a letter saying that the 2005 paper would be retracted. The paper has been cited seven times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

We’ll continue to follow this complicated case.

Hat tips: “Roberta S.” and Marcelo Hermes-Lima. Thanks to Christine Soares for translation help.

22 thoughts on “Brazilian forensic entomologist faces at least three retractions for plagiarism”

  1. I think it may be worthwhile to distinguish between plagiarism of words and plagiarism of data. To me, the latter infraction is the more serious, as plagiarism of words can sometimes be excused as simple ignorance. But theft of data goes to the heart of what scientists do: we are not writers; we gather data. The Hermes-Lima retraction is described as being for (among other things), theft of a table. Therefore, this retraction is for fraud (e.g., data fabrication).

    1. A very large part of a scientist’s time is spent writing and our careers absolutely depend on being good written communicators. Scientists are writers (we just don’t necessarily like it).

  2. “Wow, a book chapter retraction – is that a first?”

    No my lad! Believe me: the WHOLE BOOK was retracted!!!!!

  3. There is a very interesting detail regarding this retraction notice. Very funny and pathetic in the least.

    Please note the following other Brazilian retraction, linked below:

    I have closely followed how Neotropical Entomology retracted this paper from Gomes. The whole retraction notice was provided by L. Gomes. He does not know English very well.

    I am CERTAIN he copied the format of the retraction note from the one of the first link!

    Do you get the joke? He incurred in plagiarism AGAIN in his own retraction!!!! What kind of person is this???

    1. He actually plagiarized his own retraction? Hahahahaha. So funny and so sad. Does that man have no original thought in his mind? Where was this Gomes trained? In US? Europe? Brazil?

  4. Just a small addition to the post:

    “That withdrawal followed an angry letter from…” — YES, it followed the letter after 3.5 YEARS!! In the meantime other authors contacted NE without any reaction. Finally, when the senior author thought a retraction was due, they finally retracted the paper.

    This is absurd. By delaying the retraction for years, the periodical allowed the authors to cover up the whole matter, and Gomes to escape unscathed to a far far away university, and others to be punished in their place!!

  5. They have plenty more of suspicious papers on their backs. Everyone is invited to hunt for more. More retractions will surely follow. Upon first glance, it becomes clear their main line of strategy was simultaneous submissions of salami results.

    Most of their papers recite similar narrative many times. Others plagiarize other authors.

    Go get them, tiger!

  6. Some facts about the retracted book:

    1) It was already being sold:

    2) The Brazilian authors had lied about their CV records, exampled below by the our dear Gomes:

    About the author
    Leonardo Gomes has a post doctoral degree in Forensic Entomology. He published 28 works about forensic entomology in national and international journals and is the founder of the Brazilian Association of Forensic Entomology. He gives lectures and oral presentations at national and international congresses and has won 4 awards in his career.

    (He never had 28 papers, 14 at the time, never gave international lectures neither won any award)

    3) In the end it was released in Brazil!

    Now, you tell me. Isn’t it possibly among the most stupid and audacious fraudulent attempts EVER in scientific history? Springer-Verlag! International textbook! Faked records! Plagiarism! Fabricated data! Simultaneous submission! Over 15 institutions involved!

    My god, I really find this case is LOVELY.

  7. If all of this concerns forensic entomology, were there any court cases in which this author testified as an expert witness? If so, shouldn’t those be checked quickly?

  8. Impressive: the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science actually SUPPORTS Leonardo Gomes in his flaws (in Portuguese):

    They claim he is still young and that the public retractions immediately settle things, and that now he must be given a “second chance”. Many professors from UNESP are actually turning against the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, claiming that the printed matter “did not appreciate both sides of the issue”, and that people ought not to talk about such serious things as they do not know what happened.

  9. Also very impressive. Dr Leonardo Gomes issued a written communication, in which he acknowledges the plagiarism under the grounds that he never knew it was wrong, and that the attempted frauds against Springer were actually some minor misunderstood flaws — thus he acted in good faith. In a quite threatening ending, he reminds the readers defamation is a crime, and suggests he will go to the court in response. See below (in (rather confused) Portuguese):

  10. Naturally, I thought a link presenting a marked version of the plagiarized paper would be invaluable to readers of this post. From perusing carefully the paper, readers will be presented to rampant misuse of the pertinent literature, many attempts to snatch the authorship of the most relevant statements, and a quite picturesque acks section. Have fun.

  11. Also overlapping



    Whole text is the same while displaying (possibly) different results.

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