Don’t walk this way: Stalking paper halted for plagiarism

MSLPro tip: If you’re going to write about stalking, it’s probably best if you don’t get too close to your material.

That’s a lesson a group of researchers in Italy was forced to learn the hard way. They lost their 2013 article in Medicine, Science and the Law for being too similar to a 2008 paper by different authors in another journal.

According to the abstract:

The aim of this review was to study “female stalking” in the sense of the specific traits characterizing the phenomenon of stalking behaviour committed by women. The main medical databases were searched (Medline, Social Science Research Network, Apa Psyc Net), and 67 articles were selected, reporting studies conducted in clinical populations, case series, reports, reviews, retrospective studies and original articles. We outline a variety of different tactics adopted by female stalkers and a lesser propensity to pass on to physical violence. Nevertheless, female stalkers are more frequently affected by erotomania, and this condition generally increases the risk of violence. If there have previously been intimate relations between the stalker and her victim, this will increase the risk of violence. In a significant proportion of female stalkers, the behavior is carried out in the occupational setting, especially in the field of psychotherapy, where the male-female ratio is reversed. No significant differences emerged between the motivations of heterosexual or homosexual stalkers. In the category of crimes of harassment committed by women, stalking, at least in Italy, seems to be among the most prominent.

Here’s the retraction notice:

F. Carabellese, D. La Tegola, E. Alfarano, M. Tamma, C. Candelli and R. Catanesi ‘Stalking by Females’ Medicine, Science and the Law July 2013 vol. 53 no. 3 123–131, DOI: 10.1177/0025802413477397

has been retracted. This is because it contains unattributed overlap with material from the following article:

S. G. West and S. H. Friedman ‘These boots are made for stalking: Characteristics of female stalkers’. Psychiatry (Edgemont) August 2008 vol. 5 no. 8: 37–42.

The authors apologise to S. G. West and S. H. Friedman and to readers.

We raised our eyebrows a bit at the appropriateness of paraphrasing Nancy Sinatra for to come up with a catchy title for a paper about a serious subject. Apparently, however, the plagiarized authors have kindred spirits at Kulturblog, which has a list of the “Top Ten Stalker Pop Songs.”

Here’s the abstract from the plagiarized article, by the way:

When one is asked to picture a stalker, images of men with dark sunglasses, trench coats, and surreptitious behavior may come to mind. Contrary to popular belief, it is premature for mental health professionals to discount the actions of female stalkers. This article reviews how stalking is defined and classified in a broad sense and why it is important for mental health professionals to be aware of stalking behavior. The article narrows the focus to what the research has shown about women who stalk. Finally, there is a brief discussion of women who stalk celebrities and of Hollywood’s portrayal of the female stalker.

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