Publishing in triplicate leads to polymer paper retraction

j app polymerA chemist at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia has lost a paper because it was the third time he had published some of it.

Here’s the notice:

The following article from the Journal of Applied Polymer Science, “Drug release properties of poly(vinyl pyrrolidone)/acrylic acid copolymer hydrogels,” by Abdullah S. Alarifi, published online on 14 February 2011 in Wiley Online Library (, and in Volume 120, pp. 3484–3489, has been retracted by agreement between the journal’s editors and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed because of unacknowledged overlap with work previously published in the Arab Journal of Nuclear Sciences and Applications (2010, 43, 366), as well as in Proceeding, 2nd International Conference on Radiation Sciences and Applications (Egyptian Society of Radiation Sciences and Applications: Marsa Alam, Egypt, 2010; p 362).

Both of the papers referred to in the notice were written by Alarifi.

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

5 thoughts on “Publishing in triplicate leads to polymer paper retraction”

  1. One of the previous documents appeared in proceedings of a conference. Now, I don’t know to what extent those proceedings reported exactly the same as the paper does, but should a poster or oral presentation at a conference meeting prevent one from publishing more of the same material in a paper later? I hope not! Surely an abstract in proceedings doesn’t compare to a full paper? Otherwise, we’ve got a problem in my field, and I presume in many others, and conferences would probably show a substantial drop in submitted abstracts. Perhaps the problem lies in the “unacknowledged” part?
    Of course I realise that the other previous journal paper *does* provide grounds for retraction, so I do not mean to criticize the decision. I just wonder to what extent the proceedings should play a role.

    1. This is slightly mixing things. A poster or abstract at a meeting – no problem. A “proceedings” is essentially a complete paper – intro, materials and methods, results, discussion etc. and so yes, it can be considered as prior publication. From my understanding the litmus test is how widely available is the material – on line, fully accessible, you are done. A few hard copies printed, *maybe* no problem. However, the solution is quite simple if you think there is a problem. Declare openly in the submission letter, provide a copy of the proceedings at the time of sumbmission of your manuscript- and let the Editor make the call. Erring towards over disclosure is always a safe bet.

  2. Conference proceedings are indeed papers. In many fields, this is simply a route for the conference organisers to raise funds (a good thing), but it often leads to good work being somewhat buried in journals where people don’t look (a bad thing, particularly for early career scientists in precarious positions with respect to tenure and promotion). So, as ever, the temptation to “upgrade” the output leads to plagiarism.
    One answer is to put preliminary data in the proceedings, which might normally be placed in the SI of the future full paper, leaving the road open to future publication.

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