Oops! Tissue Antigens retracts paper after accidentally publishing it twice

A retraction notice from Tissue Antigens:

The following article from Tissue Antigens, A gene-specific primer extension and liquid bead array system for killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor genotyping by H. J. Park, Y. Oh, H. J. Kang, E. J. Han, H. Y. Shin, H. S. Ahn, K. S. Ahn, B. H. Yoon & B. D. Han, published online on 14 March 2011 in Wiley Online Library (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com) and in Tissue Antigens, 77:535–539, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, James McCluskey, and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. The retraction has been agreed due to inadvertent publication of the same article in a prior issue of the journal: Park, H. J., Oh, Y., Kang, H. J., Han, E. J., Shin, H. Y., Ahn, H. S., Ahn, K. S., Yoon, B. H. and Han, B. D. (2011), A gene-specific primer extension and liquid bead array system for killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor genotyping.Tissue Antigens, 77:251–256. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. accepts responsibility for this error.

We’ve seen several cases of this before, here, here, and here, for example. We have to ask: Isn’t there a better way to deal with them than saddle an author with a retraction that wasn’t his or her fault?

12 thoughts on “Oops! Tissue Antigens retracts paper after accidentally publishing it twice”

    1. Oh come on, it’s an error that will happen sometimes: a paper in production ends up in production twice, because it was erroneously not labeled as already processed. It doesn’t look like anything nefarious at all.

    2. Double publication by a journal, through no fault of the authors, does indeed happen. In a sample of 742 paper retractions for the period from 2000 to 2010, there were 27 papers retracted for this kind of journal error, according to the retraction notice. This represented 3.6% of all retractions for the period, or about 0.00006% of the 4.5 million scientific papers published during the period, so it was a pretty minor issue.

      See: Steen, RG. 2011. Retractions in the scientific literature: Is the incidence of research fraud increasing? J. Med. Ethics 37: 249-253

  1. A similar situation happened to me. In June 2003 I had a paper published in Indoor Air. Three months later the paper was published in full again in their September issue. In December 2003 the publisher announced the following: “The above article was published in both Issues 2 and 3. The publisher apologises for any confusion or inconvenience caused by this oversight”.

    However, they never issued a retraction and both published version of my article still appears on Pubmed and other data bases and I am listed on Deja Vu ‘accused’ of duplicate publication and potential plagiarism. Both versions of my paper still attract citations.

  2. I agree entirely with the question the Retraction Watch crew asks: Isn’t there a better way to deal with them than saddle an author with a retraction that wasn’t his or her fault?

    The current approach is a stupid way of dealing with publisher-derived mistakes such as duplicate publication of the same paper. Instead, just remove the paper from the website, publish a low-key ‘editorial/publisher’s notice’ with no names/titles on it, and ask the publishing indices such as Pubmed, Web of Science, etc., to remove the second record from the database.

    Whoever thought up this ‘retraction-based’ way of doing things for these types of issues was out to lunch, as having a retraction notice on your record through no fault of your own is retarded. All the publishers should adopt a more common sense strategy, and then begin working back systematically through the publishing record and cleaning it up by converting all these undeserved ‘retractions’ into something entirely nondescript that doesn’t attract any attention to anyone.

    Retractions should only be reserved for ridiculous levels of misconduct and/or incompetence, nothing else.

    1. PubMed and such will not remove it without a formal retraction. I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often. The amount of papers being published has increased dramatically but the number of people on journal staffs has not.

      1. Yep, that is their policy, but it is an indefensibly stupid policy for Pubmed and other indexing services to have (particularly in light of the relatively few numbers of papers each year this applies to), and thus, these indexing services must share some of the direct blame for this nonsense.

        I doubt it is very difficult for someone at Pubmed to hit the delete button on an entry after they receive an e-mail from a publisher’s representative indicating the article is a duplication publication.

        Whatever the solution is, the publication record of the affected authors should be scrubbed completely clean for them by the publishers and/or indexing services.

  3. When a paper is retracted, the reader assumes it is due to error or misconduct on the part of the authors. When it is neither case, the term “retraction” should NOT be used, in order to avoid any opprobrium incorrectly attaching to the authors. The suggestion that the journal should remove it from its web archives and request Pubmed, Web of Science, etc., to remove the second record from their database, does not go far enough. To avoid puzzlement to readers attempting to confirm a literature citation of the second record, the title & authors’names should be retained but the text replaced with an explanation that it was republished due to journal error, and does not imply any error or misconduct by the authors.

    1. The “technical error by a journal” gets noted as a “retraction” against the authors. When a paper is listed as “retracted”, the presumption is that the authors did something wrong. Medline does not note why a paper was retracted.

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