Frontiers papers on GMO debate, diabetes retracted for improperly cited text

frontiers plantThe author of a review article on diabetes has been forced to retract the paper after it emerged that he failed to properly credit some of the text — an omission we generally associate with the word plagiarism.

The article, “Colonic flora, probiotics, obesity and diabetes,” was written by Paul Marik, of Eastern Virginia Medical School, and appeared in July 2012 in Frontiers in Endocrinology. It has been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the retraction notice:

The corresponding author (Paul E. Marik) and the journal wish to retract the 11 July 2012 article cited above.

While all parties are convinced of the value of this work, this Mini Review was found to contain text that was improperly cited.

We regret this inconvenience and apologize to the readers of Frontiers in Endocrinology.

Now, we certainly have seen this movie before, but in this case there’s a twist. Marik is listed as being an associate editor of the journal, which at the very least ought to imply a familiarity with proper citation practices. And he also is listed as a writer for the journal.

Marik tells us by email:

This whole episode  has been very unfortunate….and the Journal  took a very hard position.

The editors thought that I did not cite the material I included in my review correctly.

We also emailed Aaron Vinik, the chief editor of Frontiers in Endocrinology, for comment and will update this post if we hear from him. Vinik is also a colleague of Marik’s at EVMS.

Meanwhile, another Frontiers title, Frontiers in Plant Genetics and Genomics, is retracting an article by a leading geneticist, Krishna Dronamraju, for similar problems.

The paper, an opinion piece titled “GMO debate: inconclusive,” had appeared in July. But now comes this:

The journal wishes to retract the Opinion article cited above. Based on information reported after publication, this article was found to contain substantial sections that were taken verbatim from previous publications without proper quotation and citation.

The Journal and Chief Editor have decided to retract the article in its entirety and apologize to the readers of Frontiers in Genetics.

Of course, what’s not clear from this notice is whether the text in question came from Dronamraju’s own work or that of other scientists.

0 thoughts on “Frontiers papers on GMO debate, diabetes retracted for improperly cited text”

  1. Adam, if you want the pdf of Dronamraju’s opinion piece, I can send it to you.

    A quick reading of the paper indicates he cited a significant part of one of the Seralini papers without indicating it was a verbatim quote (and adding no reference at the end of the quoted paragraph – although the paper itself was cited earlier in the opinion piece).

    Considering the general message of the Dronamraju opinion piece (and Dronamraju having collaborated with Seralini), I am quite certain it wasn’t Seralini who complained. In danger of peddling a conspiracy theory, something tells me this plagiarism was very welcome to the journal, allowing them to retract this opinion piece which undoubtedly had some people write to the journal with something other than praise.

  2. This kind of problem can easily occur when non-English speaking scientists write review papers. I think there is a temptation to copy text from previous publications which clearly expresses the point they want to make. Reviewers need to be more careful with this – and insist submitting authors re-write the offending sections in their own words.

    1. Yes, fully agree with that assessment. So, why didn’t the editors detect the plagiarism BEFORE the paper was publshed, during peer review? Once again, some failure on the part of the editors, the peers and the publisher. Let’s aim for a more balanced critique of the entire cycle of events. Frontiers journals are pretty hi-tech, so I am surprised that plagiarism wasn’t detected pre-publication.

      1. Well, I guess the reviewers just weren’t careful enough. I think Frontiers editors rely on the reviewers’ assessments, and if they don’t flag up any concerns, then the editor won’t know there is a problem.

    2. Like most Indians who have followed Higher Education, Dronamraju most likely has been educated in English since childhood. He also has worked in the US for quite some time already, so I would not blame his supposed poor English.

      On another note, googling his full name returns some, ehm, interesting links.

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