The American Journal of the Medical Sciences has retracted a 2012 article on premature heartbeats by a group of authors in Missouri who took “significant” liberties with an earlier paper in Heart.
The offending paper, “Ventricular ectopic beats: an overview of management considerations, “was written by Amar Jadhav and colleagues at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, in Columbia, and published in the February issue of the AJMS.
According to the retraction notice:
The Editorial Office of The American Journal of the Medical Sciences has been advised that the above article by Dr. Jadhav et al published in The Journal Ventricular Ectopic Beats: An Overview of Management Considerations by Jadhav, Amar; Ingole, Apeksha; Chockalingam, Anand. Am J Med Sci. February 2012;343(2):150–154. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0b013e31821d677b has plagiarized significant aspects of an article published in Heart by Dr. G. A. Ng (Treating patients with ventricular ectopic beats by GA Ng; Heart 2006;92:1707-1712 doi:10.1136/hrt.2005.067843). This constitutes a violation of Author Responsibility and Originality as described in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences’ Conditions for Submission. We are therefore retracting the paper by Dr. Jadhav et al published in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences. The Journal apologizes to the readership for the unethical conduct on the part of the above named authors.
David Ploth, editor of the AJMS, told us that the BMJ, which publishes Heart, contacted him about a month ago with concerns about the plagiarizing paper — which means he acted swiftly to retract the article.
Ploth wouldn’t say how much material in the papers overlapped, but he acknowledged that it was “obvious and significant.”
If the abstracts of the two articles are any guide, the papers are so similar that a plagiarism check would have identified a problem prior to publication. Here’s the retracted article:
Ventricular ectopic beats are commonly seen in daily clinical practice. Majority of them being asymptomatic, some can cause symptoms. In a normal heart, their occurrence is of no clinical significance. However, in the presence of an underlying heart disease, they signify a susceptibility toward more sinister arrhythmias. In some patients, they are triggered by the same mechanism as ventricular tachycardia and these can be cured by catheter ablation. Recent reports on the use of catheter ablation in cases where focal ventricular ectopics are found to trigger ventricular fibrillation. Clinical evaluation and investigations are important in assessing patients with ventricular ectopic beats so that appropriate treatment can be targeted when necessary. This article discusses the current knowledge and practice in this commonly encountered clinical problem.
And here’s the one that was pilfered:
Ventricular ectopic beats (VEBs) are commonly seen in daily clinical practice. They are largely asymptomatic but can cause upsetting symptoms in some patients. In normal hearts, their occurrence is usually associated with no clinical significance. However, there are occasions where the presence of VEBs signifies a susceptibility towards more sinister arrhythmias, especially when heart disease is present. In some patients, VEBs are triggered by the same mechanism that gives rise to ventricular tachycardia which can be cured with catheter ablation. In addition, there are recent reports on the use of catheter ablation in cases where focal ventricular ectopics are found to trigger ventricular fibrillation. Appropriate clinical evaluation and investigations are important in assessing patients with VEBs so that effective treatment can be targeted when necessary. This article discusses the current knowledge and practice in this commonly encountered clinical cardiological problem.
Obvious indeed — made all the more so by the curious colloquialism, “sinister arrhythmia,” which a cardiologist we know well — okay, she’s a relative — tells us is not typically part of the argot for the specialty.
So, while we commend Ploth on acting quickly to yank the Jadhav paper, it seems pretty clear that the case easily could have been caught in the manuscript stage.
Meanwhile, Christian Basi, a spokesman for the University of Missouri, told us that the school is currently investigating the first and last authors on the paper (the second, Ingole, is not affiliated with the school, he said). He sent us this statement from the university:
University of Missouri officials are aware of plagiarism allegations against two of our researchers. MU officials handle allegations of research misconduct according to University policy that is consistent with federal guidelines. Should evidence be found to warrant further action, the case will be referred to the MU Standing Committee on Research Responsibility. Researchers found to have committed research misconduct, such as plagiarism, are subject to discipline including termination.