Authors retract HER-2 endometrial cancer paper for 2x publication

OGSFile this one under strange excuses.

A cancer paper was retracted on September 17 for a double publication. According to the notice in which the authors admit to duplicating the “opening to the readers,” which we assume is the introduction, there was no need to cite the article “because it had not yet been printed at that time.”

Here’s the notice for “The effect of HER-2 polymorphism according to age on the risk and pathologic feature of endometrial cancer”:

The above article from Korean J Obstet Gynecol, published on May 2009, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, professor Pil Ryang Lee, and publication office of Korean J Obstet Gynecol.

The authors’ statement follows below

In 2009, we published two articles associated with the effect of HER-2 polymorphism on endometrial cancer. One article appeared in Korean J Obstet Gynecol and the other appeared in BJOG [1]. Specifically, the opening to the readers (including the opening in the online publication) of the two articles are similar. Although the article published in BJOG was designed, written, submitted and accepted earlier, we did not cite the article from BJOG because it had not yet been printed at that time. Thus, in order to make clearance for referencing issue between Korean J Obstet Gynecol and BJOG, we decided to retract the paper published in Korean J Obstet Gynecol. We regret the inadvertent omission of the appropriate referencing and offer sincere apologies to readers for any inconvenience caused by this retraction.

We’ve reached out to the authors and editor, and will update with any new information.

4 thoughts on “Authors retract HER-2 endometrial cancer paper for 2x publication”

  1. Isn’t this ridiculous? How does “duplication” of an “opening to the readers” affect the scientific record? Why the need to retract an article for something which is not even a minor offense, but a completely benign – if not, perhaps, elegant – practice?

    1. I think the retraction notice doesn’t really transparently tell the whole story.

      I have to admit I did not read both papers. But it seems, at first sight, they really published essentially the same study twice. The retracted paper can be found here:

      According to the abstracts, both paper have 125 cases and 302 controls. 9 SNPs were analysed. Both papers conclude that the SNPs are not significantly associated with endometrial cancer risk. The BJOG also included case/control comparison of the BMI, which was associated with risk and wich was not reported in the KJOG paper.

      So basically, it looks like they simply reused previously reported material. And they didn’t even bother to rephrase everything. This has never been acceptable practice. It simply boosts your publication record for nothing. As far as I remember, authors were always required to sign a statement that the material is novel and not considered or accepted/in print anywhere else.

      This has been done is still is done especially by researchers in smaller contries by publishing in a more high-impact international journal and the same story in a local journal, like in a local medical society journal. Even if it is done in a different language, it is still not considered acceptable. Of course, life is not fair: If you are a US based research hot-shot, you do (almost) the same thing except you call your second paper a review……. 😉

      1. Well, then, if you’re right the retraction should be retracted and replaced with one explaining the real cause of the retraction. Otherwise we risk perpetuating the impression than any type of duplicated material in scientific papers is a form of misconduct.

        1. Well, a verbatim copy of a portion of a paper in a second paper is really not considered acceptable, even if you are the author of both papers. Plus, quite often the copyright is assigned to the journal publisher. So by doing so, you can even formally breach the copyright.

          And as a correction to my first comment, the KJOG also mentions the BMI link.
          So I would think this retraction is really justified on the basis of double publication. The verbatim reuse of text (quite understandable practice for non-native speakers) is indeed the minor problem here…..

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