And the award for the “three most plagiarized papers” goes to…

twsjThe Retraction Watch archives are full of dubious distinctions — most retractions by a single researcher, longest time between publication and retraction, etc. — but now we have a competition for another: “The three most plagiarized papers.”

That new category comes to us courtesy of a retraction notice in The Scientific World Journal, “Recent Advances in DENV Receptors,” by a group of researchers in China. Here’s the new notice:

This article has been retracted as it is found to contain a substantial amount of material from a number of previously published papers. The three most plagiarized papers are: (1) K. I. Hidari and T. Suzuki, “Dengue virus receptor,” Tropical Medicine and Health, vol. 39, no. 4, supplement, pp. 37–43, 2011. (2) A. Cabrera-Hernandez and D. R. Smith, “Mammalian dengue virus receptors,” Dengue Bulletin, vol. 29, no. 662, pp. 119–135, 2005. (3) A. Cabrera-Hernandez, C.Thepparit, L. Suksanpaisan, and D. R. Smith, “Dengue virus entry into liver (HepG2) cells is independent of hsp90 and hsp70,” Journal of Medical Virology, vol. 79, no. 4, pp. 386–392, 2007.

The paper has been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

It turns out this wasn’t the first time editors had used the “most plagiarized” description. It appeared in a retraction notice we covered in March, too.

Who would have thought that “The three most plagiarized papers are…” would be such a popular phrase?

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

30 thoughts on “And the award for the “three most plagiarized papers” goes to…”

  1. This is only a review paper that summarized the recent advances in this field.Why has it been accused as a plagiarized paper?!

    1. They may well have stolen text passages of other reviews or studies. That was what our German defence minister did in his dissertation and what he was ousted for.

  2. But the real question is has any paper been plagiarized by two different groups? That would be something to put on one’s CV.

    1. Good idea. They could even evaluate scientists on a “science plagiarism index”, besides the “science citation index”. And I still want my “Google Plagifind”. I would like to check the dissertations of some of our politicians.

      1. Yeah, I was really hoping that someone had either:
        a) devised an algorithm to ithenticate all papers in pubmed against each other and determine the most plagiarized paper
        b) at least complied all retraction notices in pubmed and identified and counted papers that the retracted papers had stolen from, coming up with a list

        I do agree, it would be quite a dubious honor to be plagiarized by several groups…

        1. hmm, it would be easiest to implement a check between papers citing some famous paper. Most plagiarism is of the pawn sacrafice type.

          Isn’t plagiarism a form of flattery? 🙂

        1. Right now it is not in my CV. But after you mentioned it I will certainly consider adding it. Maybe even the number of times these papers were cited (several hundred).

          1. I think Retraction Watch should run a special on this and establish a Most Plagiarized Paper running contest with your paper as the current champion.

          2. A Most Plagiarized Paper contest. Sounds like a good idea! Maybe will even attract some attention to the topic. I’ll be happy to provide a list of papers that plagiarized that conference paper I published back I 2006. It’s a fairly long list that will challenge the others.

  3. Curious as to the opinion of Retraction Watch readers of the following two articles:

    A. Zaggia, B. Ameduri Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science 2012, 17, 188-195

    G. Kostov, F. Boschet, B. Ameduri Journal of Fluorine Chemistry, 2009, 130, 1192-1199

    Substantial portions are identical. How does re-publication apply to review articles?

    1. You may be onto something here, Kenrod. I suggest you persist further. Use a two-prong approach: challenge the authors, then separately challenge the editors and the publisher. Keep us updated.

      1. JATdS: Today I emailed several editors of Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science and cc’d the three regional editors of Journal of Fluorine Chemistry. The corresponding author of the two papers in question (Ameduri) is on the editorial board of JFC so I chose not to include him on the email. I’ll let you know what happens.

      2. Update… One of the COCIS editors replied in less than two hours (on a Sunday, no less). He’s promised an assessment by him and his fellow editors as well as a promise to notify me of their conclusions and actions…..

        1. Kenrod, I am happy to hear of this immediate progress. It might be useful to add a bit more pressure by informing him that the journal is carefully being monitored by the academic community through this blog (maybe send him the link to this particular page). This strategy has been quite effective for me recently when trying to show editors (and select publishers) that they are in fact accountable for what they have approved for publication. Of course, be prepared to pick up some enemies along the way. Very unfortunately, the “elite” in my field of study still have an excessively traditional way of thinking, it seems and are not too receptive to post-publication critiques!

          1. “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
            Winston Churchill

    1. When exactly was the paper retracted? This is because the PubMed PDF is still a beautiful copy without the word “RETRACTED” stamped on it: How doe sone go about alerting PubMed? The “academic editors” are listed as G. Borkow and E. J. Im. So, between 27 February, 2013, when the paper was submitted, and April 3, when the paper was accepted, what were these “editors” and the publisher, Hindawi, doing with respect to plagiarism detection? The editors and the publsher are equally to blame for doing a lame, sloppy job before accepting the paper. Time to assign a proportion of accountability and responsibility to editors and publishers that fail their responsibilities before publication. After all, Hindawi writes: ( “Since the Editors have direct review responsibilities in this editorial workflow”. Has anyone bothered to contact Borkow and Im for comment? INterestingly, Gadi Borkow, Cupron Scientific, Israel supports a known predatory publisher (, OMICS ( that was banned from PubMed. So, this is ironic. Not easy to get background information about E. J. Im, presumably Eun Ju Im (

      1. A few more important and pertinent questions. The impact factor of this journal is 1.730. These authors have made a PROFIT from publishing in this journal (even after paying the exhorbitant exploratory OA publishing fees by Hindawi), most likely through research funds that were multiplicatively enhanced using the IF as part of the equation (this will differ from university to university in China). The IF score is low, so most likely this paper would not have resulted in a promotion of any author (but if the university is rural, then it could). Therefore, and perhaps an ethically conscientious researcher in China could respond: 1) do the authors have to reimburse any funding received? 2) will they suffer any consequences as a result of plagiarism (or is plagiarism an acceptable practice, as suggested by the total suprise of the first blogger, Jiuncheng He)? 3) has anybody bothered to contact the Chinese MInistry of Education that simply doesn’t want PR scandals associated with it and in fact may take an iron-fisted approach if they start to understand the level of retractions associated with Chinese researchers? 4) Will Hindawi partly or fully refund the authors their APF (article publishing fee) or could lack of ethics be a new (potential) business model? I am not pointing fingers. I am simply requesting tha deeper questions be asked.

      2. So, between 27 February, 2013, when the paper was submitted, and April 3, when the paper was accepted, what were these “editors” and the publisher, Hindawi, doing with respect to plagiarism detection?

        To be fair, the people are Hindawi were probably either on the streets or hiding during the relevant period. Hindawi is in Egypt, you know…

      3. But at least Hidawi put the “retracted” stamp on the paper, with reference to the sources. In my case the papers are still published with no indication of retraction. Even after the story was featured on a few newspapers and reviewed by plagiarism experts, the papers are still there. The proud authors even uploaded them to their ResearchGate and profiles.

        Needless to say that the only people who seemed to suffer any consequences were the graduate students. I spent many hours on the phone with them. One of the students had an interesting confession. He took the blame on himself, explaining that the advisor asked him to re-write the paper in his own words, but he carelessly copied and pasted the text and figures. The advisor, btw, is a president of a university.

        1. Lior, you now bring up an interesting aspect that is intricately related to publishing ethics and thus retractions. These “academic sites” like ResearchGate and are controlled by whom? Why would such sites, if they were so “ethical” and “academic” allow for plagiarized, duplicated and retracted papers to be published freely on their sites? In fact, I have requested all these sites to remove my own profile, which seem to create “professional” profiles by other scientists even without their knowledge or approval. These sites, I believe, also promulgate fraudulent science, as has now been clearly examplified by Lior.

    2. Here we go. According to Wikipedia – which is in itself the most plagiarized web site – the most cited retracted paper is this one:

      Wakefield AJ, et al. (1998) Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet 351:637–641, partial retraction in (2004) 363:750, and retraction (2010) 375:445.

      It got 758 citations, and the reason for its retraction was “fraud”

      1. I looked at the figure- why would they put a big black box over a part of the gel that has no relevant samples on it? Looks like bad practice, not malice.

        1. JFL, I’m inclined to agree about the malice, which is why I carefully chose my words when titling the award. It’s such a ridiculous modification that one could almost argue that the authors were being honest about what they did. But then why do it at all? Let’s say the gel contained a couple of extra lanes that are not relevant to the paper. Why not cut the gel between lanes 4 and 5? At which point did the author’s decide, assuming they wanted to “tidy up the gel a little bit”, that sticking a black box over part of the image would look achieve that aim, and not its opposite? Now they just leave it to us to second guess their motives – I hope you and I are correct, but maybe we aren’t, who knows?

          BTW, I’m not condoning gel cutting or “tidying up” as practices, I’m firmly believe that gels should be published warts n all. And this figure serves as a perfect example as to why that should be.

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