The brains in Spain fall mainly on…Iran?

braininjWe’ve come across some odd examples of plagiarism in this job, from the fellow who tried to build a CV on the back of another researcher’s work, to the education researcher who, from what we can tell, preferred lifting the work of others to writing her own papers. Here’s another odd one for the pile.

A group of Iranian scholars has lost a paper in Brain Injury because they lifted it wholesale from a previously published article. What’s harder to get one’s mind around, however, is that the two papers were looking at culturally-specific aspects of brain injury. Except that one wasn’t.

The retracted paper, “Frontal acquired brain injury, substance abuse and their common psychological symptoms in the Iranian population,” appeared in 2011. Here’s the abstract, which is still available on the journal’s website (we’ll note that although the abstract is free for all, the retraction notice was behind a pay wall — an error, according to the publisher, which they remedied when we contacted them): 

Primary objective: To compare the scores from the Iranian version of the Frontal Systems Behavioral Scale (FSBS) with the norms collected for the American, English-speaking population and to examine the ability of the FSBS to discriminate between acquired brain injury and addiction.

Research design: Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and post hoc Bonferroni tests.

Methods and procedures: 120 subjects (41 patients with frontal acquired brain injury [FABI], 47 abstinent Substance Abusers (SA), and 32 healthy controls from the Iranian population) were selected. An Iranian version of the FSBS was administered to all participants.

Main outcomes and results: Patients with FABI and SA had higher scores than the control group on the FSBS total score; patients with FABI scored significantly higher than SA, and SA significantly higher than controls. While SA had greater subscales of executive dysfunction than controls, patients with FABI had higher scores than SA and the control group in the subscales of disinhibition, apathy, and executive dysfunction.

Conclusions: Two clinical samples of Iranian participants had detective behavioral problems associated with frontal systems dysfunction based on Iranian version of the FSBS, which makes this scale a useful instrument for the detection of behavioral problems.

That all must have sounded a little familiar to a team of Spanish researchers, whose 2008 paper in the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, “Frontal behavioral and emotional symptoms in Spanish individuals with acquired brain injury and substance use disorders,” covered, um, similar ground:

INTRODUCTION: Patients with acquired brain injury affecting the frontal cortex and individuals with substance use disorders share a range of behavioral problems, including apathy, poor self-control, and executive dysfunction. The Frontal Systems Behavioral Scale (FrSBe) is a self-report instrument designed to measure behavioral problems resulting from damage to the frontal-striatal neural systems, involved both in brain insult and addiction. The aim of this study was twofold: (1) to compare the scores from the Spanish version of the FrSBe with the norms collected for American, English-speaking population; and (2) to examine the ability of the FrSBe to discriminate between two clinical populations (acquired brain injury (ABI) and addiction) with putative frontal dysfunction, as compared to a group of healthy participants.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 139 volunteers participated including 46 patients with frontal ABI (F-ABI), 57 abstinent substance abusers, and 36 healthy controls from the Spanish population. A Spanish version of the FrSBe was administered to all participants. We conducted multivariate analyses of variance to examine group differences across the three subscales: apathy, disinhibition, and executive dysfunction; and in the FrSBe total score.

RESULTS: F-ABI and substance abusers had higher scores (i.e., greater impairment) than controls on the FrSBe total score; F-ABI patients scored significantly higher than substance abusers, and substance abusers significantly higher than controls. For specific subscales, F-ABI patients had higher scores than substance abusers and controls in the subscales of apathy, disinhibition and executive dysfunction, whereas substance abusers had greater executive dysfunction than controls.

CONCLUSIONS: The Spanish version of the FrSBe is a useful instrument for the detection ofbehavioral problems associated with frontal systems dysfunction in two clinical samples of Spanish-speakers.

Which prompted the following:

Kourosh Banihashemian,  Razieh Etesami Pour, Mansour Moazzen, “Frontal acquired brain injury, substance abuse and their common psychological symptoms in the Iranian population”.

The editors and  publisher would like to inform the readers that the following article has been retracted from publication in Brain Injury:

K. Banihashemian,  R. Etesami Pour, M. Moazzen, Frontal acquired brain injury, substance abuse and their common psychological symptoms in the Iranian population, Brain Injury, 2011, 25(12), 1249-1255

This article has been found to reproduce content to a high degree of similarity, without appropriate attribution or acknowledgement by the authors, from the following original article:

A. Caracuel, A. Verdejo-García, R. Vilar-Lopez, M. Perez-Garcia, l. Salinas, G. Cuberos, ct al., Frontal behavioural and emotional symptoms in Spanish individuals with acquired brain injury and substance use disorders, Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 2008, 23(4), 447-454

The journal contacted the authors to investigate and received a response from K. Banihashemian on behalf of all authors. It was agreed that the text in the article was almost word-for-word identical to the text published in Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology.

Brain Injury published this article in good faith, and on the basis of signed statements of the corresponding author regarding the originality and ethical reliability of their work. The article is withdrawn from all print and electronic editions.

The now-retracted paper has been cited just once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. It reminds us a bit of what happened to Brian Nosek when one of his yet-to-be-published papers was plagiarized.

Dawn Hunter, managing editor at Informa Healthcare, which publishes Brain Injury, tells us:

… the only concern about the paper we were able to confirm was the similarity to the other work. The original data was requested from the authors, who told us they no longer had the data due the time elapsed since the study. The authors’ institution was contacted but we did not receive a response.

Does that make this whole thing a brain drain?

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