I will not plagiarize, I will not plagiarize, No plagiaré…: When a journal requires a public apology

This one is an oldie but a goodie.

We’ve published a few accounts of what it feels like to have your work plagiarized. But often absent from accounts like that are the views of the plagiarists. So here’s one.

In 2009, the Cuban Journal of Endocrinology retracted a 2000 paper by a researcher who acknowledged plagiarizing the work from a previously-published book chapter by other authors. And how.

As a letter from the editors explains (with the help of Google Translate):

At the beginning of the year we have received the information, by the true authors of the article “Qualitative and quantitative research. Unresolved issues in current debates,” that the paper, published in the Journal of Endocrinology (Volume 11, Number 3, 2000, p.192-8) under the signature of Mr. Jorge Luis Calero, is a plagiarism of work “Unsolved problems in integrating qualitative and quantitative methods in social research in health”, whose true authorship of doctors and Roberto Castro Mario Bronfman. The original article was published in 1999 as a chapter of the book entitled “Health, social and political change. Views from Latin America.” Mexico, DF: Edamex, coordinated by Dr. Bronfman and Castro. A review of it appears in: Public Health in Mexico. 1999, 41 (3), Cuernavaca, and can be found on the following page: http://www.scielosp.org/scielo.php?pid=S0036-36341999000300013&script=sci_arttext

The Editorial Board of the Journal of Endocrinology want to emphasize that the magazine was completely oblivious to this despicable action and offers its sincere apologies for what happened to Drs Roberto Castro and Mario Bronfman and regrets the harm that the action of Mr. Calero caused them. Therefore, the Editorial Board has decided:

1. Report violation of the academic and administrative authorities of the institution where the lawyer, Calero, works.
2. Post the letter of recognition error by the Graduate Calero.
3. Conduct a virtual link Journal of Endocrinology in electronic book review with the doctors Roberto Castro and Mario Bronfman.

We want to reiterate to readers that our Editorial Board, according to ethics and good practice of scientific publications, never tolerate the slightest impunity with this type of irresponsible behavior, which violates the principles of ethics specific to those working in the Medical Sciences or any other field.

Making good on that promise, the journal also printed a letter from Calero, who was at the time at the National Institute of Endocrinology of Cuba (we’re not sure if he still is)  that reads (again, thanks to Google Translate):

Dr. Oscar Diaz Diaz. Director of the Journal of Endocrinology.

Dr. Eduardo Cabrera Rode. Secretary of the Editorial Committee of the Journal of Endocrinology.

Dear doctors Diaz Diaz and Cabrera Rode:

Hereby I contact you to clarify the situation that occurred with the publication of the article entitled “Qualitative and quantitative research. Unresolved issues in the current debate,” which was published in Volume 11, Issue 3 of Journal of Endocrinology (2000, p.192-8) and I made the mistake of declaring as an author.

This chapter is a plagiarism of “Unsolved problems in integrating qualitative and quantitative methods in social research in health”, whose true authorship of Drs Roberto Castro and Mario Bronfman, published in 1999, as part of the book “health, social and political change. views from Latin America “(Mexico, DF: Edamex), which both authors are coordinators.

I wish to express and acknowledge that I am solely responsible for this, and emphasize that broke from this and any other assessment that could prepare, the editor, reviewers and all personnel involved in one way or another with the Journal of Endocrinology . I want to extend my sincere apologies for having used so precious in this clumsy action framework, which questioned the work of the real authors of the work and the editors of the magazine.

I recognize the gravity of the offense committed, since there is no justification for so doing. Therefore, and as a sign of shame and regret I feel in this situation, I will publish this letter, in order to set an example for other researchers do not engage in a similar error.

No more, and to please accept my apologies,


Mr. Jorge Luis Calero.

We heard about this case from Roberto Castro, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in Cuernavaca, and co-author of the plagiarized chapter, who told us he discovered the theft in January 2009.

Thanks to Twitter followers for help translating the headline of this post.

2 thoughts on “I will not plagiarize, I will not plagiarize, No plagiaré…: When a journal requires a public apology”

  1. Wow! This is how a person with conscience should act when caught plagiarising.

    Firstly, Congratulations for the editor who did the right thing!

    Transparency Index should reflect whether the editor/publisher/institution Do_the_Right_Thing when evidence for misconduct has been presented.
    Number of retractions related to total number of publications provides absolutely no information whether the editor/publisher/institution Do_the_Right_Thing when evidence for misconduct has been presented.
    In fact, with system based on retractions out of total_number_publications, the greater the total number of publications, the less visible will be cases of Not-Doing_the _Right_Thing (i.e. cover up of obvious misconduct).

    Journals/publishers/institutions should be ranked by the number of cover ups, i.e. refusals to Do_the_Right_Thing, when evidence for misconduct is presented to them. The greater the number of cover ups, the lower the ranking should be regardless of the total number of publications.

    How would Gaceta Sanitaria, editor Carme Borrell, will be ranked having in mind that the editor refuses to Do_the_Right_Thing in spite of irrefutable evidence for copyright irregularities and duplication publication of Joan Banach and Carles Muntaner in the paper “Welfare state, labour market inequalities and health. In a global context: An integrated framework. SESPAS report 2010″, Gaceta Sanitaria 2010; 24(Suppl 1):56–61
    May be the explanation is in the fact that Carme Borrell has 23 co-publications with Joan Benach and 18 co-publications with Carles Muntaner. http://www.biomedexperts.com/Profile.bme/141723/Carme_Borrell

    Conclusion: The higher the number of editor’s co-publications with the author, the more likely will be refusal to Do_the_Right_Thing, in spite of irrefutable evidence about misconduct being presented.

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