Oops — journal published same paper three times

surface interface analysisOn November 25, 2014, a journal published an article on mass spectrometry. Then on December 18th they published it again — twice.

Yes: “Mass analysis by Ar-GCIB-dynamic SIMS for organic materials” was mistakenly published a total of three times.

Over a year later, the journal pulled the two redundant publications. Here’s the retraction notice for one of them:

The above article, published online on 18 December 2014 in Wiley Online Library (doi:10.1002/sia.5705), has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor in Chief, [name] and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. The retraction has been agreed because this article was accidentally published three times in Surface and Interface Analysis. For the version of record, please refer to Suzuki et al. (2014) doi: 10.1002/sia.5696.

The publishers take responsibility for this error and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

The retraction notice for the other redundant publication is the same, except for the doi (10.1002/sia.5707).

Neither of the retracted copies of the publication, nor the original, has been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

We reached out to the editor in chief of the journal, John F. Watts, and to the first author Masato Suzuki, affiliated with the Tokyo University of Science, to ask how the issue happened, how it came to light, and why it took more than a year to fix.

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6 thoughts on “Oops — journal published same paper three times”

  1. Surely we need a better word than retraction for events like this? There is no suggestion the paper itself was a problem. Retraction should be reserved for issues with the content of the paper, not mere duplication. Withdrawn perhaps?

  2. How about we scrap the judging and just be matter-of-fact about all of these cases. There are corrections. It has been suggested elsewhere that retraction is actually a bad idea–better to leave the paper in the literature but attach a correction. Yeah, I know, for people who evaluate researcher merit by counting publications, that won’t do–the offenders must be punished by a reduction of their count. Maybe the real problem is that counting.

    1. Agreed. Behaviour such as salami slicing or self-plagiarism becomes much less of an issue if we stop thinking of scientific papers as merit badges that every researcher must compete to collect.

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