Duck, duck, gone: Duplication plucks bird flu paper

zoonoses and public healthIf it looks like a duck flu study, and quacks like a duck flu study, and it’s word-for-word the same as a duck flu study…

Zoonoses and Public Health has retracted a 2013 paper on bird flu in Myanmar because the authors had published the article previously in a different journal.

The article, “Risks of Avian Influenza (H5) in Duck Farms in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta Region, Myanmar,” was written by a group led by Alongkorn Amonsin, of the Department of Veterinary Public Health at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Per the abstract:

The Ayeyarwaddy delta region in the south-west of Myanmar is the main agricultural and rice-growing area. The region has a high density of duck and backyard chicken populations with low biosecurity. The objective of this study was to analyse risk factors for avian influenza (H5) in the Ayeyarwaddy delta region, Myanmar. A case–control risk factor study was conducted from April to June 2010 by individual interviews including risk factor questionnaires given to duck farmers (n = 50) in five townships in the Ayeyarwaddy delta region, Myanmar. Risk factor analyses were conducted using univariate analysis and multivariate logistic regression model with backward stepwise (wald) method. The results showed significant risk factors for AI (H5) sero-positivity in ducks were wooden egg box containers (OR = 52.7, 95% CI = 2.34–1188, P = 0.013) and water sourced from wetlands (OR = 30.7, 95% CI = 1.96–481.6, P = 0.015). Conversely, the cleaning of reusable egg containers was determined as a protective factor (OR = 0.03, 95% CI = 0.00–0.42, P = 0.01). In conclusion, this study identified risk factors for AI (H5) in duck farms and the importance of avian influenza prevention and control.

But the paper didn’t fly. According to the retraction notice:

The following article from Zoonoses and Public Health, ‘Risks of Avian Influenza (H5) in Duck Farms in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta Region, Myanmar’ by H. H. Win, C. C. Su Mon, K. M. Aung, K. N. Oo, K. Sunn, T. Htun, T. Tiensin, M. Maclean, W. Kalpravidh and A. Amonsin published online on 09 August 2013 on Wiley Online Library ( has been retracted by the journal Editor-in-Chief, Mary Torrence, the Authors, and Blackwell Verlag GmbH, as the article has already been published in the Myanmar Veterinary Journal [Myanmar Veterinary Journal 2013, Vol. 15, No. 1, 43–50].

 Hat tip: Rolf Degen

10 thoughts on “Duck, duck, gone: Duplication plucks bird flu paper”

  1. Not all publishers object to duplication – as long as the duplicates remain “in the family”.

    Open Journal of Earthquake Research, an open access journal, retracted a 2012 paper by Thomas R. Paradise, “The Influence of Islam on the Assessment of Earthquake Hazards and Seismic Risk” (doi: 10.4236/ojer.2012.11001), due to duplication. The paper had been published three times previously, all three in Taylor and Francis publications: Environmental Hazards (2005, doi: 10.1016/j.hazards.2006.06.002), Journal pf North African Studies (2006, DOI: 10.1080/13629380600802961), Journal of Islamic Law and Culture (2008, doi: 10.1080/15288170802285447) and Open J of Earthquake Research (2012, doi: 10.4236/ojer.2012.11001, retracted due to duplication).

    TANF has decided not to retract the duplicates and has defended the publication of redundant material in pay-for-view journals: “It was the judgment of the Journal Editors that there was real benefit in making material previously only seen by earthquake engineers accessible to Islamists and middle east scholars via the Journal of North African Studies. This benefit was judged more important than the aspect of redundant publication involved.” (Gerald Dorey, Taylor and Francis Associate Editorial Director, May 6, 2014)

    The OJER retraction is dated June 24, 2013. Retractionwatch has been aware of the case for almost a year.

    1. Does the 2012 paper reference the 2008 and 2006 papers and state clearly that the paper has already been published? And does the 2008 paper reference the 2006 paper and state clearly that it was already published? If yes, then the Taylor and Francis decision sounds fair because the authors declared the duplication upon submission, and publication. However, if not, then this remains a serious case of academic misconduct and Taylor and Francis would then, in such a case, be supporting misconduct.

      1. No the duplicates were not referenced. TANF in fact published a corrigendum that added the missing references (details at the pubpeer links provided). That still doesn’t make it a “fair” decision. If the editors really believed that the article was important enough to be republished in a different journal, they should have labeled it a reprint and stated clearly that the article has already been published elsewhere. Nobody would object to that (copyright apparently wasn’t an issue). Or of course they could have published a summary with reference to the original article, or included the paper in a literature review. What I object to is these redundant publications appearing under the header of “original articles” in a scholarly journal. We all know why this is done: padding one’s publication list, the equivalent of grade inflation for professors. (The professor in question in fact used to list this paper five times on his publication list.) Honest scholars who don’t play these games are the ones who are harmed.

        I suspect that TANF didn’t want to address the misconduct because it would mean admitting that their editors were sloppy. If they didn’t catch such obvious misconduct, what trust can we have in their peer review? Not much unfortunately.

        1. I fully agree with you on this. TANF trying to sweep the real issue under the carpet. The key question is, is TANF a COPE member (all journals)?

          1. Thanks for your support. Yes TANF journals are COPE members (*). A COPE complaint was actually submitted but COPE says they changed their complaint procedures and don’t have any “enforcement” authority over journals. What happened is that they did contact the journals, about three months after the case was brought to their attention. The journals did not respond but a TANF rep did (took him two more months). He made the statement quoted above and claimed a corrigendum had been published long ago (to add the missing refs). COPE then said that was all they could do. At that point I asked them to follow up because the corrigendum had not in fact been published. TANF admitted that, said it was an oversight and finally published their corrigendum, *without author identification*, still insisting they had done nothing wrong. It’s all petty stuff. Neither TANF nor COPE showed any serious concern about the publication ethics they are presumably upholding. It took enormous time and effort to get COPE to follow up at least to the extent they did but they wouldn’t even *advise* TANF of the fact that their guidelines prohibit duplication. As of TANF, there was no “thank you for pointing out that we published the same article three times, we are sorry, it won’t happen again”, nothing of the sort. More like “This is how we always do things, you wanna fight? See there’s nothing you can do about it, nobody cares.”

            (*) Note: one of the journals involved, Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, apparently ceased operation although back issues are still hosted at the TANF web site. Because editors did not respond to COPE, the journal was removed from the list of COPE members after that was pointed out repeatedly.

          2. Btw I think it’s noteworthy that an unknown open access journal (Open J of Earthquake Research) quickly did the right thing but established mega-publisher Taylor and Francis is equivocating about the permissibility of redundant publication. Shows again how those fly-by-night open access kids are undermining the high standards of the publishing industry. Not.

  2. “Not all publishers object to duplication”

    Yes, that is true. A journal might or might not have a requirement that submissions be novel. I think all serious hard science journals do, but there might be exceptions.

    There is nothing wrong with publishing the same thing in multiple locations. It is just not a typical practice in most academic fields. It would be unethical to pretend that these were multiple distinct contributions, however.

    1. “A journal might or might not have a requirement that submissions be novel. I think all serious hard science journals do, but there might be exceptions.”

      All scholarly journals at least pretend to be “serious” journals, and yes they all have a policy to require novel submissions. I’m not aware of any exceptions. If you are, please let us know. Amateur journals are of course a different matter.

      1. Off hand, a few examples where an article could legitimately be published again (with appropriate approvals of course); where the article was originally published in a non-English language, where the work was published as a proceeding with limited circulation, where an artice is included as a “best of” in a themed issue. Not saying specifically any of these apply in this case however.

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