In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Plant has flagged a 2004 article that was “accidentally” duplicated from another paper published earlier that year — but did so in the form of a publisher’s erratum, not a retraction.
The editor of the journal justified the decision by arguing that the duplicated paper had been cited “over a dozen times” and was old enough to not warrant a retraction:
Considering that both articles were published over a decade ago and both have been referenced by other papers over a dozen times each, it seems like a retraction of one manuscript may damage the integrity of the literature more than using the erratum to point out the error to future scientists.
The study, “In vitro shoot regeneration from cotyledonary node explants of a multipurpose leguminous tree, Pterocarpus marsupium roxb,” developed a protocol for effectively growing shoots of the Indian Kino tree.
This article, published in In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Plant 40, issue 5, 464–466 (DOI 10.1079/IVP2004548), is a duplicate version of another article entitled ‘In vitro shoot regeneration from cotyledonary node explants of a multipurpose leguminous tree, Pterocarpus marsupium roxb’ written by the same authors and which was accidently published in the same journal. We apologize to the readers of the journal for not detecting this omission which regrettably occurred during the publishing process and was not associated with the authors of the original manuscript. When citing this article, the initial publication should be used: In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Plant 40, issue 2, 167–170 (DOI 10.1079/IVP2003488).
Quoting from the Instructions to the Authors:
“Publication Ethics: The journals In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant (both SIVB and IAPB) subscribe to the editorial standards and guidelines for editors and authors of COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics). A detailed explanation of our ethical standards can be found at http://publicationethics.org/resources/ code-conduct. These guidelines include a code of conduct and best practice guidelines for journal editors.”
A person notified the journals of the specific problem. The situation was investigated and the erratum posted according to the standards set by the COPE guidelines.
However, COPE’s Retraction Guidelines specify that a duplicated (“redundant”) version of a paper should be retracted, and the original flagged:
If redundant publication has occurred (i.e. authors have published the same data or article in more than one journal without appropriate justification, permission or crossreferencing) the journal that first published the article may issue a notice of redundant publication but should not retract the article unless the findings are unreliable. Any journals that subsequently publish a redundant article should retract it and state the reason for the retraction.
When asked about the discrepancy, Duncan said:
The COPE guidelines indicate that “…The main purpose of retractions is to correct the literature and ensure its integrity…“. Considering that both articles were published over a decade ago and both have been referenced by other papers over a dozen times each, it seems like a retraction of one manuscript may damage the integrity of the literature more than using the erratum to point out the error to future scientists. The two articles and the erratum are now electronically linked and the erratum indicates which article is the correct one to reference.
I would hope that in your article you do consider if there should be a “statute of limitations” of time or perhaps number of citations after which the integrity of the literature is best served by not retracting an article.
In our experience, most publishers who mistakenly print the same study twice end up retracting the duplicated version.
Commenters on PubPeer pointed out the duplication in February, and subsequently questioned why the redundant version hadn’t been retracted.
We’ve contacted the study’s corresponding author, Suresh Chand at Devi Ahilya University in Indore, India, and we’ll update if Chand responds.
Hat tip: Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva
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