Group’s duplication retractions span the globe, from New Zealand to Romania to Croatia

The retraction count continues to grow for a group of Iranian scientists who appear to have published similar work four times.

The group was forced to retract a Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases paper in March. That retraction came alongside one in the New Zealand Journal of Medical Laboratory Science, whose editor had tipped JGLD editor Monica Acalovschi — who has taken a tough stance on duplication in her own journal, published in Romania — off to the duplication. Acalovschi, in turn, tipped off Biochemia Medica, the journal of Croatian Society of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine, which has now retracted a 2009 paper by the group.

The Biochemia Medica retraction, published in its June 2012 issue, says:

It has been recently brought to the Editor-in-chief’s attention by Monica Acalovschi, who is the Editor-in-chief of the Journal Gastrointestinal Liver Diseases that Hadi Parsian has since 2009 published three articles with close similarities:

1. Parsian H, Rahimipour A, Nouri M, Somi MH, Qujeq D, Fard MK, Agcheli K. Serum hyaluronic acid and laminin as biomarkers in liver fibrosis. J Gastrointestin Liver Dis. 2010;19(2):169-74.
2. Parsian H, Rahimipour A, Nouri M, Somi MH, Qujeq D. Assessment of liver fibrosis development in chronic hepatitis B patients by serum hyaluronic acid and laminin levels. Acta Clin Croat. 2010;49(3):257-65.
3. Parsian H et al. Relationship between serum hyaluronic acid level and stage of liver fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis. Biochemia Medica 2009;19(2):154-65.

Authors have submitted their work to Biochemia Medica along with a cover letter clearly stating that their manuscript is original, has not been published before and is not currently being considered for publication elsewhere.

Unfortunately, after thourough investigation we conclude that all three published articles have close similarities and high degree of homology. They originate from the same investigation, they report same results on the same patients. This is considered as self-plagiarism and serious publication misconduct.

Article published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases in June 2010, has been retracted this March.

Due to the above stated reasons, we therefore retract the article published in Biochemia Medica. The authors have been informed about the reasons for the retraction decision.

So it appears that the authors first published similar data in two journals in 2009 — Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases and New Zealand Journal of Medical Laboratory Science — both of which have been retracted. They since published some of the same data in the two Croatian journals (Biochemia Medica and Acta Clinica Croatica), one of which has also been retracted.

When I discovered the Biochemia Medica retraction notice, at SpotOn London’s session on research fraud earlier this week, the paper was still fully available at the journal website and in the Croatian journal database HrcakSrce, unmarked as retracted in both. (I have no reason to believe this was fraud; that’s just where I found the notice.) It’s been seen almost 400 times and downloaded over 140 times at HrcakSrce.

The editor of the journal, Ana-Maria Simundic, told me by e-mail that was a “severe omission” and has promised to immediately take the article down from both sites. (See update at end.)

The authors’ Acta Clinica Croatica study has yet to be retracted, and that journal’s editor has not responded to requests for comment. Simundic says the journal’s editorial board has not responded to her either.

We’ve also emailed the corresponding authors, and will update with anything we learn.

Update, 10 p.m. Eastern, 11/27/12: Biochemia Medica has marked the article as retracted in the journal and in HrcakSrce.  We’ve also added a line clarifying that there’s no reason to suspect fraud in this case, despite the circumstances in which we discovered the retractions.

7 thoughts on “Group’s duplication retractions span the globe, from New Zealand to Romania to Croatia”

  1. Make that 5 publications. During my investigation of the authors I came across another publication by this group in a Persian journal. Although the article was in Persian, it had an English abstract.


    When asked for an explanation, the authors stated that according to their laws they are allowed to publish their previously published studies in Persian journals. i pointed out to them that this can only be done if they ask permission of the original journal to re-publish in another language with appropriate acknowledgement. This they did not do.

    Normally, if duplicate (or more) publications arise, the first published article would not normally be retracted, only the subsequesnt ones. This group published first in our journal. However, we noted that there were minor, but not statistically significant, differences in some of the laboratory parameters. When asked for an explanation we received two totally different ones. The 1st author explained that for the 2nd article a different computer was used to calculate the statistics. Another (senior) author stated that 5 of the serum samples used for measuring laminin levels were haemolysed, but luckily they had duplicate non-haemolysed samples available for re-analysis. We were not impressed by either explanation and therefore reluctantly made the decision to retract their paper from our journal.

    Rob Siebers
    Editor, New Zealand Journal of Medical Laboratory Science

    1. Did you really mean to say they said “a different computer was used to calculate the statistics”?

      One would hope that changing your computer doesn’t do anything to the statistics!

      1. Yes, a different computer but same stats program. This should not have changed the mean values and confidence intervals of some of the laboratory parameters.

    2. Thank you, Dr. Siebers, for your willingness to explain your decision. I was puzzled as to why the ‘original’ publication was retracted. As you noted here, that is not typical. This is a bizarre example of self-plagarism, mostly because of the excuses you received from the authors. Dealing with this situation must have been quite an incredible experience for you, but I commend you for it.

  2. A diffferent computer could have different viruses and vorms, which affected the results in a different way to the viruses and vorms in the first computer.

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