Cost-sharing paper that shared too much with other works earns retraction

hepThe journal Higher Education Policy has retracted an article it published last year by a scholar in Ethiopia whose grasp of publishing policy seems pretty shaky.

The article, “Financing Higher Education in Ethiopia: Analysis of Cost-Sharing Policy and its Implementation,” which appeared online in August 2012, was by Sewale Abate Ayalew, of Bahir Dar University College of Business and Economics.

According to the retraction notice:

The editor and publisher of Higher Education Policy are retracting the article ‘Financing Higher Education in Ethiopia: Analysis of Cost-Sharing Policy and its Implementation’ by Sewale Abate Ayalew (2013) (, published in Volume 26 Issue 1 of the journal, following an investigation into possible ethical misconduct. It has been concluded that portions of text in the article are either unoriginal or incorrectly cited, and therefore the decision has been taken to remove this article from the scholarly field. It should no longer be cited from the print or online version of Higher Education Policy.

The abstract of the paper is still available online:

Cost-sharing as a policy in Ethiopian higher education institutions (HEIs) has been adopted since 2003 to achieve a set of objectives such as supplementing revenue as an alternative non-governmental source, maintaining and enhancing access to higher education, addressing equity in terms of opportunity in higher education and making students ‘customer-like’. This article tries to identify some of the basic challenges the government is facing in achieving the objectives of cost-sharing in general. These challenges are lack of policy awareness, limited (or lack of) immediate non-governmental revenue, difficulty in implementing the concept of students-as-customers, the huge amount of government subsidy, inefficient/weak collection capacity, high default rate, and there is no direct flow of money to HEIs from cost-sharing.

7 thoughts on “Cost-sharing paper that shared too much with other works earns retraction”

  1. I lose the will to live when reading this kind of stuff, so well done to the person who did so twice…

  2. I know this is a bit off-topic, but because the title was related to Education, I thought I would slip in my query here. Would bad English, which in cases could lead to incorrect interpretations of data or results, or which could lead to serious ambiguities, be reason for retraction. I am aware of many papers in moderate-high level (IF 1-3) range in my discipline that publish papers that are written with attrocious grammar. Even though the publishers claim that English is the authors’ responsibility, the truth of the matter is that badly written apers are bing published, showing that the editorial functions are being rapidly eroded. I wonder if anyone has any comments or reaction to this issue and if they are aware of any retraction that resulted as a result of ambiguity caused by poor grammar, or simply a retraction based on poor English.

    1. An article in an immunology/immunogenetics journal was retracted in 2001 because of errors in “the English”, among other issues. Reported in BMJ here and in a languages for specific purposes journal here .

      (The BMJ article lost its open access when the journal changed its policy after the article was published. If you don’t have access and can’t scare up an OA version on the net, contact me.)

      Agree that a lot of badly written or badly edited articles in English are getting published. Commercial publishers won’t do anything about this unless it starts to affect their profits.

      Sometimes researchers whose first language is not English resist my editing to correct grammar and syntax errors in their manuscripts by pointing out that their phrase was copied from an article in Journal of Whatever and therefore “must” be correct. Authors tend to assume that all journals and publishers (or maybe a reviewer or the editor) still copyedit everything.

      Obviously, this is no longer the case. The situation helps propagate the use of clunky or simply bad English.

      Asking researchers to get editing assistance on their own is useless for those who work in settings where nobody is available locally who can edit manuscripts well, and for those who cannot afford the commercial editing services advertised on publishers’ websites.

      1. Well, this is odd. In the list of recent comments this comment is by ivanoransky (and I can see his picture), but here the commenter name is Karen Shashok (but still with Ivan’s picture).

        Puzzled minds are puzzled…

        1. Sorry for any confusion, Marco, but Karen was having technical difficulties when posting a comment, so she asked me to post it for her. WordPress just automatically added my picture. The list of recent comments shouldn’t include my name (and doesn’t on the page I’m looking at).

      2. One of the most common referee comments the Eastern German groups I worked with received was: “needs to be reviewed by a native English speaker”.

        Oddly, many of the papers had co-authors in the UK. I’ve taken to saying that “native” English is not enough, you need “college-level” English. (Bearing in mind that some nations teach “college level” English at much younger ages than others.)

        Many younger “native English speaking” scientists were never forced to take an English course in college as part of their degree requirements. (I was. Introduction to Poetry was one of the most difficult courses I took- although not quite as tough as quantum chemistry.)

        This definitely includes younger American scientists, who frequently sound like pretentious high schoolers attempting to throw every vocabulary word at their disposal onto the page. (The older American scientists, I have noticed, tend to have impeccable writing.)

        I’m always willing to help out my non-native English speaking science friends out with manuscripts- it’s gotten to the point where I can tell the difference between German and Russian English grammar. It does get frustrating to read in published biomedical papers, where it feels like the authors are hiding behind piles of technical language instead of clearly illuminating a point.

        1. When I was a college student, one of my classes shared space with a freshman English course. I arrived a few minutes early for my class one day, and saw the words “subject/verb agreement” written in giant capital letters on the chalkboard. I asked the TA if she taught a remedial/ESL course. She said no, regular freshman English. She further stated how surprised she was that so many of her 18 year old students had never written a paper in their lives, prior to taking her course!

          As part of my husband’s job, he reviews medical records. He tells me he’s continually amazed at how few so called medical professionals can write or spell at all.

          Years ago, when I was preparing to return to work after two brain surgeries, I looked at the doctor’s note provided to me by my neurosurgeon. I ended up having to scan it into my computer and edit it myself. I was embarrassed by his total lack of spelling ability, and found it slightly cringeworthy that a guy whose spelling skills were so poor had been allowed free access to my brain on two separate occasions! (Fortunately, the surgery was successful, I haven’t needed any since)

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