Paper on anti-HIV efforts in Uganda pulled for plagiarism

ijhpmA public health journal has retracted a 2010 paper by a CDC AIDS researcher in Uganda who appears to have lifted much of the work from a Canadian scientist.

The article, “Determinants of project success among HIV/AIDS NGOs in Rakai, Uganda,” appeared in the International Journal of Health Planning and Management, a Wiley title. The author was Stevens Bechange, who was listed as being with the Uganda Virus Research Institute, in Entebbe. Bechange’s Linkedin page says he is a doctoral student at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, UK, studying “Health, Wellness and Fitness.” His contact information on the article was an email with a CDC address (we’ve put in a call to the agency to find out more about his status but haven’t heard back yet).

As the abstract stated:

The aim of the study was to identify the main determinants of grassroots project success among HIV/AIDS NGOs operating in Rakai, Uganda. It was a cross-sectional study using face-to-face interviews in a mixed-methods approach among community members and NGOs involved in providing HIV/AIDS and related health services. The study found that the success of grassroots projects of HIV/AIDS NGOs essentially relies on adequate financial resources, competent human resources, strong organizational leadership, and NGO networking. These data suggest that to increase grassroots project success, HIV and AIDS NGOs in Rakai need to improve not only the budget base and human capacities but as well decision-making processes, organizational vision, mission and strategies, gender allocation in staffing, and beneficiary involvement.

According to the retraction notice:

The following article from The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, Determinants of Project Success among HIV/AIDS NGOs in Rakai, Uganda by Stevens Bechange published online in Wiley Online Library ( on 11 January 2010 and in volume 25, issue 3, pp. 215–230 (Bechange, 2010), has been retracted by agreement between the author, the journal Editor in Chief, Calum Paton, and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. The retraction has been agreed because of substantial unattributed overlap with previously published qualitative research methodology, findings, and ideas by Susan Walker (Walker, 2004).

The paper has yet to be cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Walker used to be with the anthropology department at McMaster University in Ontario, but she’s no longer there, according to the school. And we’re not sure what the 2004 paper is, since the notice doesn’t specify and we haven’t heard back from the editor of the journal.

Bechange does, however, cite a 2004 work by Walker, “Strong voices, hopeful futures : enhancing leadership capacities for determining and sustaining health initiatives with young people in Uganda; final report,” which may have been a dissertation — it seems to have been funded with an “IDRC doctoral research award.” (The actual reference in the paper is incorrect; it says the work was published in 2006.)

Hat tip: Victoria Fan

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