Heart paper will go on, but only in the first of two journals it was published in

Cardiovascular ResearchA cardiovascular group has retracted a conference proceeding abstract, because it too closely resembled a paper they published prior to the conference.

The last author is baffled as to why the journal couldn’t have made that call before they published the abstract.

Here’s the notice for “Increased beta-adrenergic inotropy in ventricular myocardium from Trpm4 knockout mice”:

The publication of this meeting abstract has been retracted at the request of the authors because of prior publication of the full report in Circulation Research.

Co-author Rudi Vennekens talked to us in more detail:

The retracted item is the abstract of a poster presentation at the Frontiers in CardioVascular Biology 2014 Meeting (Barcelona, 4th – 6th JulyThird Congress of the ESC Council on Basic Cardiovascular Science). The poster described amongst others data that was published by our group (and the same authors) in Circulation Research (PMID:24226423).

The problem which arose was that the poster abstract contained too many resemblances with the abstract of the Circulation Research paper. The editor in chief of Cardiovascular Research (who publishes the abstract book of that particular meeting) felt that a copyright conflict could arise between Cardiovascular Research and Circulation Research and therefore urged us to retract the abstract. It is still unclear to me why the scientific committee of the meeting couldn’t make this judgement between the submission of the meeting abstract (in February 2014) and its eventual publication (about 5 months later in July 2014), since our Circulation Research paper was online since December 2013. But anyway, it should be clear that this retraction has no relation to the scientific value of the work we described.

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

4 thoughts on “Heart paper will go on, but only in the first of two journals it was published in”

  1. I’m perplex.
    They could have restated the conference abstract in a different manner, but clearly this regards the same study of the previous article. Thus should be considered something more than just copyright, But, in parallel, you go at the conferences to diffuse your work, also published works.

    So does it sound paradoxical just to me?

  2. So-called self-plagiarism has not been a particular ethical problem or a great matter of concern in science. If you already know the article, don’t read it. In the 19th century, researchers published their work in several journals across several countries to make it more visible. I know “double publications” from the early 1990s, first published as paper, then as conference talks in a special issue of a journal – and nobody ever saw a problem with that 20 years ago.

    Why should the authors in the above case reformulate their abstract – if it concerns the same work?

    “Self-plagiarism” is a term pushed by publishers, who see in it a problem, since they can get sued by other publishers for copyright violations when republishing an existing text.
    It is mostly publishers claiming that self-plagiarism is a form of scientific misconduct – when in fact it is mainly an economic problem for publishers.

    1. Most publishers don’t mind double publication – if properly acknowledged and you ask for permission.

      I also do not know of any cases where one Publisher sued another for copyright violation. Rather, copyright violation is the easiest excuse to get a paper retracted, and thus no need to wait for any institutional inquiries or authors fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent retraction.

      Self-plagiarism has become a real problem due to the focus on plain numbers: how much did you publish and what is the ‘quality’ (read: impact factor) of the journal? Thus, someone who re-publishes his paper, doubles his output. At the same time both journals are negatively affected, because citations will be spread between the two papers.

      Another serious problem is that both papers will go through peer review (not in this case, though), and thus 4-6 scientists spend time on the same paper. On the one hand that is great: the more eyes, the bigger the chance that any scientific issues are spotted. On the other hand, we already have too few good reviewers, and thus double publication increases the chance that another paper does not get the qualified reviewers that it deserves. Also, what if the two sets of reviewers require subtle differences that actually result in different interpretations in the two papers? Then we have differential interpretation by the same set of authors of the same data set!

      Usually the term “self-plagiarism” is used if the double publication is not acknowledged. In this specific case the abstract does not reference the publication, but that could be due to the submission timeline and also because of the question whether a conference abstract should go to that length, considering you have such limited space.

      There is an alternative explanation for the retraction: attentive readers may note that the Circ Res papers has a few extra authors. It is possible, and please note this does not equate to plausible, that they complained about not having been included. Imagine if this were the case: Card Res could do a full investigation to look at whether those scientists should have been included…or just retract with reference to copyright violation; the latter is much easier. But I would like to stress again that this is just a possible scenario. It is more likely that those other authors on the Circ Res paper contributed something that wasn’t included on the poster.

  3. This really makes no sense. We all go to conferences to present our work. At least in the circles i move in, it is not uncommon to present a work at a conference after it has been published. You want to communicate and discuss your work, especially when it is still reasonably fresh, like in this case. Oh well, this is one way for a conference organiser to shoot themself in the foot.

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