Study on eye imaging device withdrawn for German duplication

current eye researchAn article describing a Japanese imaging device that measures eye surface temperature to help diagnose ocular conditions has been retracted because it contained duplicated material that the authors had published previously in German.

Here’s the September retraction note for “Measurement of Dynamic Ocular Surface Temperature in Healthy Subjects Using a New Thermography Device,” published in the journal Current Eye Research in 2012:

We are now cognizant that this article contains large portions of text without proper attribution and credit from an article previously published in the journal Klinische Monatsblätter für Augenheilkunde.

This action constitutes a breach of warranties made by the author with respect to originality. Taylor & Francis notes that we received, peer-reviewed, accepted, and published the article in good faith based on these warranties, and censure this action.

The retracted article will remain online to maintain the scholarly record, but it will be digitally watermarked on each page as RETRACTED.

The retracted paper has been cited 11 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Executive editor Robert Linsenmeier, a professor at Northwestern University, told us a reviewing editor alerted the journal to the duplication:

To some extent we have a confidential relationship with our authors, so I cannot share details. However, when such cases arise via a reader or one of our reviewers, we do an investigation and confirm whether or not there has been duplication of material. In any cases where we feel that the situation is not crystal clear, we go to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), which has been helpful to us. In the present case, we were alerted to the originality issue by a reviewing editor, and investigated and confirmed that the article contained a significant amount of (translated) text, without proper attribution and credit from an article previously published in the journal Klinische Monatsblätter für Augenheilkunde. Thereafter we proceeded as per COPE guidelines, and the journal’s own internal policy, and issued the retraction.

Linsenmeier added that the journal is now scanning every submission using plagiarism detection software:

I might add that we are working to prevent this as much as possible by using iThenticate to indicate the duplication level of every manuscript that is submitted, so that we can catch problems before papers are actually published. Of course cases of different languages are the difficult ones, and we usually have to be alerted by individuals who are for some reason aware of the earlier paper.

The retraction notice also does not provide the title of the original article in the German-language journal Klinische Monatsblätter für Augenheilkunde. But a PubMed search for the eye thermography device described in the study, the TG 1000 made by Japanese ophthalmology company Tomey, turned up in only one publication in the German journal: “Application possibilities of modern thermal imaging – First experiences with the new Tomey TG 1000.” Linsenmeier confirmed that the study, published in 2011, was indeed the one from which text and images in the Current Eye Research paper were borrowed.

All of the authors on the Current Eye Research paper – Matthias K. J. Klamann, Anna-Karina B. Maier, Johannes Gonnermann, Julian P. Klein and Uwe Pleyer – were also authors on the study in Klinische Monatsblätter für Augenheilkunde.

Current Eye Research has faced this sort of problem in the past, when in 2012 it retracted three studies from a group of authors in China who had previously published the papers in their native language.

The scientific community has somewhat different positions about publishing in different languages – in 2013, a poll of readers showed that nearly half believed publishing in another language was acceptable, as long as the authors informed the journals.

We’ve reached out to corresponding author Matthias Klamann at Charité – University Medicine Berlin, and will update if we hear back.

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4 thoughts on “Study on eye imaging device withdrawn for German duplication”

  1. I appreciate the editor’s statement that “… we are working to prevent this as much as possible by using iThenticate to indicate the duplication level of every manuscript that is submitted …”. But, is Ithenticate or some other commercially available product now able detect text in a new document that has already appeared in a different language in another document?

    1. No. The answer may be found in the FAQ page of iThenticate (see the last sentence):

      “Which international languages does iThenticate have content for in its database?
      iThenticate searches for content matches in the following 30 languages: Chinese (simplified and traditional), Japanese, Thai, Korean, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian (Bokmal, Nynorsk), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Farsi, Russian, and Turkish. Please note that iThenticate will match text between text of the same language.”

      For other commercial products, the situation should be identical, I guess.

      Now, duplication of a raw text into another language is not really plagiarism, provided that the source is cited. This is called translation and is very useful. Many journals still appear in two editions, the English-language edition being the most widely used by researchers, for obvious reasons. In the same way, huge piles of thesis from Japan, Russia, Korea, etc. are awaiting for translation. I’m confident, for example, that very interesting works in the field of organic synthesis done in Japan in the 60’s and 70’s are at more or less the same level than a 2015 JOC or Org. Lett. Unfortunately, these valuable results are buried in non-electronic documents written in Japanese…

  2. Data is data. And published is published. An undeclared publication, in any language, is duplication or self-plagiarism. It takes only a few minutes to write a few short sentences to the editor to explain that the data set was published in another language prior to submission. Most editors would be receptive to an interesting data set, even if published in another language, for reasons clearly indicated by Sylvaine. And all it needs is a short note acknowledging the source. Simple, really.

  3. The last author is a long time Past Chief editor of a Karger journal and an Editorial board member of several other journals of various major publishers who has a solid reputation in his field. This seems to be an inadvertent – and indeed easily avoidable – isolated gaffe, rather than a result of ill intention.

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