Duplicate analysis of Eastern Europe’s GDP retracted from two journals, one in US, one in Croatia

Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics: Journal of Economics and BusinessTwo papers by researchers from China and Taiwan have been retracted from two journals, one based in the US, one in Croatia, after identical studies appeared in the June 2011 issues of both publications.

Eastern European Economics retracted their version first, and that journal’s editor discussed the case with the editors of Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics: Journal of Economics and Business, where the same paper was also published.

Eastern European Economicsretraction reads:

Editor’s Note: Academic Misconduct by Chi-Wei Su and Hsu-Ling Chang.

We have determined that the article “Is Per Capita Real GDP Stationary in Central and Eastern European Countries?” published in Eastern European Economics, vol 49 (3), p. 54-65 (2011) by the foregoing authors was simultaneously submitted for review to the journal Zbornik radova Ekonomskog fakulteta u Rijeci/ Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics despite the authors’ express claim that it was not under review at another journal. Moreover, the authors then allowed duplicate publication of the same article in the two journals in violation of the copyright agreements they had signed. Consequently, the article has been removed from this issue of Eastern European Economics.

In the statement of retraction by the Croatian journal, Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics: Journal of Economics and Business, Ivo Sever, Editor-in-Chief, said:

Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics, Journal of Economics and Business has retracted the following article from publication: “Flexible Fourier Stationary Test in GDP per capita for Central Eastern European Countries”, by Hsu-Ling Chang, Chi-Wei Su, Meng-Nan Zhu, published in our journal Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics, Journal of Economics and Business, 2011, vol. 29 (1), pp. 51-63 and almost concurrently published in the journal Eastern European Economics, 2011, vol. 49 (3), pp. 54-65.

Being in contact with Josef C Brada, Professor Emeritus, Editor of the journal Eastern European Economics (EEE), we realized that the paper had been sent to both journals, although first published in EEE and then in our journal. According to professor Brada’s and our analysis, the paper published in these two journals is exactly the same, except for minor differences in wording, most likely due to editing the text before publication. The outstanding differences are in the title and the fact that the paper published in our Journal has three authors while the one in EEE journal has two. Owing to the fact that the article had been sent to both journals almost at the same time, it had been impossible to find out during the review procedure.

Due to this unpleasant situation, our Editorial Board would like to inform our valuable readers that all the necessary measures to retract the paper from our publication have been undertaken and according to ethical principles in publishing, cooperation with the authors of the retracted paper has been stopped. Although, in this case neither EEE nor our journal had any chance to envisage and prevent this double publication in time, we do ask our readers to accept our deepest apology.

The original paper is still accessible on the open access database, Hrcak, and the journal’s website, but is watermarked as “retracted.” Yet this mark is only visible once you access the full pdf; looking at just the title and summary, in the database or on the journal’s website, you would not know that the paper had been retracted.

Neither paper has been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. When a paper is a duplicate, we usually see the second one retracted, rather than both, but apparently the editors felt that the simultaneous submission meant they should both be withdrawn.

We’ve  contacted the editors of both journals, and will update with anything we learn.

Update, 3:30 p.m. Eastern, 1/10/13: EEE editor Brada tells Retraction Watch:

This past Summer I received an email from a scholar who informed me of the fact the the duplicate paper had been published in EEE and in another journal and sent me copies of both articles. The only differences were due to some copyediting of the English grammar in our publication and that one paper had 2 authors, the other three.

I contacted the editorial office of the other journal and determined that:
1. The article had been submitted to both journals at about the same time — in our case the cover letter explicitly stated that the paper was not and would not be submitted to another journal while it was under review ( a condition that we explicitly state in our submission materials.)

2. We accepted the paper  and published it in our journal and then appeared in the other journal. The same author signed both copyright forms (for our journal and the other journal). Our copyright requires the author to grant us copyright to the article and to confirm it has not and will not be published elsewhere. They also promised the same thing to the other journal.

3. The other journal retracted the paper due to the duplicate submission  and due to the fact that we owned the copyright –as our copyright form was signed first. However, we also withdrew the paper from the web for 2 reasons:
a. If we had known that the authors had submitted the paper to two (or more?) journals, we would have rejected it immediately.
b. Once it was published it was our only way of sanctioning the authors. Now when people Google these authors, one of the results that comes up is the description of their unprofessional behavior.

4. I have tried to contact the authors and their universities — with no success.

Update, 7:30 p.m., 1/16/13: We notice that the title and summary, database entry, and table of contents entry  for the retracted Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics: Journal of Economics and Business paper is now marked retracted.

7 thoughts on “Duplicate analysis of Eastern Europe’s GDP retracted from two journals, one in US, one in Croatia”

  1. In a way this is of course the correct thing to do if it is clear the papers were submitted simultaneously – retract both!

    1. It will depend on who did most of the work and if the plagarism was consensual. We’ve seen cases on RW of peoples work getting taken and used as their own before. If a journal can retract, they could theoretically reinstate a paper as well.

      That said, do we know if anyone is tracking the reinstatement rate? Eg, after the buzz dies down, are papers put back into circulation?

  2. Seems a bit excessive. Unless the manuscript that got published first had been submitted second. This would violate the rules of submission of journal #1 (the manuscript already under consideration by journal #2) whose copyright would then be infringed by journal #2.

    1. I think here the authors need to resolve another issue – submitted around the same time but one had 2 authors and other had 3 authors. So i guess they need to figure out how they would like to go about it – 3 authors i.e keep the guest author or 2 authors on board + 1 ghost author

  3. Submitting to two journals is violating the agreement with both. You do not only promise to not have submitted the paper elsewhere previously, but also that you will not submit it elsewhere while it is still under consideration in the first journal.

    1. Agreed. If the duplicate is submitted after the original is published, then the authors have violated the agreement with the second publisher but were true to their word with the first publisher. The later paper should be retracted. If the manuscript is under consideration at two journals at the same time, the authors have violated their agreement with both publishers, and both publishers, I think, are entitled to retract.

      1. Agree. They should get the death penalty, i.e. both papers retracted and the research blanked out from their web sites. Say, five years before they can submit another paper (and three years before they can get funding again…). Throw the book at them. In My Humble Opinion.

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