Duplication earns highly cited prostate cancer researcher a correction in JCO

Laurence Klotz, a prominent urologist at the University of Toronto who studies the prostate specific antigen (PSA), has corrected a paper after reusing his own words from an earlier review.

Here’s the correction, from the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO):

The November 10, 2005, review article by Klotz, entitled “Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer: For Whom?” (J Clin Oncol 23:8165–8169, 2005), contained errors.

This publication contains partly overlapping text with the following article: Klotz L: Active Surveillance with Selective Delayed Intervention Using PSA Doubling Time for Good Risk Prostate Cancer. Eur Urol 47:16-21, 2005.

The author has now provided proper attribution by adding the following to the References section as reference 7a:

7a. Klotz L: Active surveillance with selective delayed intervention using PSA doubling time for good risk prostate cancer. Eur Urol 47:16-21, 2005.

In the Introduction section, reference 7a should have been cited in the last sentence of the last paragraph, as follows:

“One approach is to use the window of curability that exists for patients with favorable-risk disease diagnosed with PSA screening to estimate the biologic aggressiveness of the tumor based on PSA doubling time (DT) or grade progression on repeat biopsy.7a

This correction met with the approval of European Urology. The author apologizes for the mistakes.

The version in European Urology, published by Elsevier, of the sentence in question:

One method to do this is to use the window of curability that exists for patients with favourable risk disease to estimate the biological aggressiveness of the tumour based on PSA doubling time.

The JCO paper has been cited 171 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, while the European Urology paper has been cited 57.

The case seems to suggest that simply citing sentences from your past work means it’s fine to basically reuse them — a solution that we’ve suggested before to the “why do I have to find a clever way to rewrite my own words” question that we sometimes see in the comments here on Retraction Watch.

Klotz’s name may be familiar to readers for another reason. In 2005, he published an account of 1983’s infamous Brindley lecture, in which

Professor G.S. Brindley first announced to the world his experiments on self-injection with papaverine to induce a penile erection.

An excerpt:

He looked down sceptically at his pants and shook his head with dismay. ‘Unfortunately, this doesn’t display the results clearly enough’. He then summarily dropped his trousers and shorts, revealing a long, thin, clearly erect penis. There was not a sound in the room. Everyone had stopped breathing.

But the mere public showing of his erection from the podium was not sufficient. He paused, and seemed to ponder his next move. The sense of drama in the room was palpable. He then said, with gravity, ‘I’d like to give some of the audience the opportunity to confirm the degree of tumescence’. With his pants at his knees, he waddled down the stairs, approaching (to their horror) the urologists and their partners in the front row. As he approached them, erection waggling before him, four or five of the women in the front rows threw their arms up in the air, seemingly in unison, and screamed loudly. The scientific merits of the presentation had been overwhelmed, for them, by the novel and unusual mode of demonstrating the results.

3 thoughts on “Duplication earns highly cited prostate cancer researcher a correction in JCO”

  1. The correction: ethical but boring. The Brindley lecture: the funniest and most embarassing urology lecture EVER. “…four or five of the women…threw their arms up in the air…and screamed loudly.” A priceless moment.

    1. I have now embarrassed myself by laughing loudly at my computer. Surely my colleagues will wonder what the fuss is about… I am not sure how to share!!!!

  2. Elsevier, when has the original publication (i.e. the first one), does not tolerate duplications as small as one sentence (33 words).
    However, is Elsevier consistent in its policy regarding duplications?
    We have to see, as in the opposite situation – the original publication is much earlier than Elsevier’s and there is much greater duplications of text plus two figures (drawings, not pictures) which appear without any attribution to the original – Elsevier hesitates to do the right thing.

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