“Great shock and sadness:” Publishing gadfly to retract paper for duplication

untitledA vociferous advocate for correcting the literature — who has been banned by two publishers for his persistent communications — has asked journals to retract one paper and correct three others for duplications.

After a reader flagged his 2004 paper on PubPeer last month, author Jaime Teixeira da Silva “immediately” contacted the journal to alert it that the paper had been duplicated, as he noted on a recent comment on our site:

It is with great shock and sadness that I wish to report errors in my own literature. I was alerted to comments and observations made at PubPeer about work conducted almost 2 decades ago, and to be
consistent with my message to other plant scientists about correcting their literature when errors are known, I have immediately taken the following steps, on the same day that I received these reports (i.e., today).

Teixeira da Silva noted that he has requested that the New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science (NZJCHS) retract “Evaluation of carbon sources as positive selection agents for chrysanthemum (Dendranthema × grandiflorum) transformation,” which has been cited four times since it was published in 2004, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. That paper, according to da Silva, is a duplicate of another 2004 paper in Bragantia,The effect of carbon source on the in vitro organogenesis of chrysanthemum thin cell layers,” which has also been cited four times.

In his comment, Teixeira da Silva said:

In this case, I sent an email to the EIC, Prof. Kevin Davies, offered an explanation, a sincere apology, and the request to immediately retract this paper.

We’ve contacted Teixeira da Silva to ask if he could share the explanation for how the duplication occurred; he declined to comment.

Teixeira da Silva is well known to many in the publishing world for tirelessly railing against perceived misconduct by other researchers — often for duplications — and exasperating editors who don’t meet all his requests.

He’s also requested corrections to three additional papers, also for duplication; Teixeira da Silva said in the comment on our site that he wanted to set a good example:

I wish to offer my apologies to any readers or chrysanthemum scientists who may be hurt by this fact. I have disappointed myself and this has been a very terrible and painful day, over and above the so many other conflicts that I am involved with, and that many of my critics at PubPeer and Retraction Watch are aware of.

No matter how disgraceful or painful, I hope that setting my own publishing record straight will spur other plant scientists, those listed above and others, to do the right thing, and to act immediately to correct the literature when errors are reported, or detected. Although this shocking experience for me will no doubt involve a phase of serious introspection, and most likely a reflection on what science means to me after a lifetime of painful struggles to do the right thing, it will not prevent me from continuing to highlight what I believe to be a field of science in crisis, namely plant science, especially horticulture.

I promise today that I will also be publishing a post-publication peer review of the chrysanthemum literature, in which I will be critical both of my own papers, and of other papers that have still not been corrected, even 2 or 3 years after alerting authors, editors and publishers to these issues.

In regards to the three corrections, Teixeira da Silva noted in the comment:

In addition, most likely the same astute reader reported figure duplication in three papers, all published in 2003, one of which was a review. All were published at the same time and it would have been impossible to cross reference the figures since the papers themselves had not been published. Fortunately, I have been given this opportunity to correct the affected papers.

First, “Chrysanthemum organogenesis through thin cell layer technology and plant growth regulator control,” published by the Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, which doesn’t yet appear to be indexed by Thomson Reuters Web of Science. Here is thread about the paper on PubPeer.

Next, “Thin Cell Layer technology in ornamental plant micropropagation and biotechnology,” published by the African Journal of Biotechnology, and cited 27 times. (We’ve been unable to find an entry for the paper on PubPeer.)

And finally “Thin cell layer technology for induced response and control of rhizogenesis in chrysanthemum, published by Plant Growth Regulation; it’s been cited 19 times. 

Update 8/5/16 9:12 a.m. eastern: The retraction notice for “Evaluation of carbon sources as positive selection agents for chrysanthemum (Dendranthema × grandiflorum) transformation” has been posted. See it here:

The editors of the New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science, acting on behalf of the Royal Society of New Zealand, have been advised by the author of the article:

Evaluation of carbon sources as positive selection agents for chrysanthemum (Dendranthema × grandiflorum) transformation, by Jaime A. Teixeira Da Silva, New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science 32 (March 2004), 55–67. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01140671.2004.9514280that due to an omission of oversight on his part, the article contains figures and data which are duplicated in, but not attributed by another article authored by him, viz., Teixeira da Silva, J.A. (2004) The effect of carbon source on the in vitro organogenesis of chrysanthemum thin cell layers. Bragantia 63 (2): 165–177. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0006-87052004000200002

Dr Teixeira da Silva offers apologies to the editors and readers of the Journal. As requested by Dr Teixeira da Silva, we are now retracting the article. We note we received, peer reviewed, accepted, and published the article in good faith.

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14 thoughts on ““Great shock and sadness:” Publishing gadfly to retract paper for duplication”

  1. “Evaluation of carbon sources as positive selection agents for chrysanthemum (Dendranthema × grandiflorum) transformation” by JATdS
    New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science
    Article submission date = 1 Apr 2003

    “The effect of carbon source on in vitro organogenesis of chrysanthemum thin cell layers” by JATdS
    Article submission date = 26 Mar 2003

    Why would an individual submit an article to two different venues less than one week apart and change nothing but the title? How could they later be “shock[ed]” about such a duplication?

  2. JATdS’s contrition here is thoroughly unconvincing, especially since he is correcting the record only after his “errors” were exposed.

  3. Glass houses, chickens roosting, etc…it is tempting to crow. But is it not so often the case that zeal arises because the “crusading” individual has seen the same monsters within, whether they have bled through to the outside world (as we see here) or have not? Are JATdS’s accusations less valid because he has struggled and (as it seems) transgressed? Perhaps not less valid, but it could be he is no longer an ideal spokesperson for the principles he claims to uphold. One might hope that these revelations will be followed by more circumspect and thoughtful behavior by JATdS…but hopefully not complete silence, for bringing transparency and reproducibility to the scientific enterprise requires all sorts of bedfellows, plumbing the devious possibilities of the desperate human mind.

    1. Re: the glass house reference: Granted that no one is perfect, but honest scientists don’t live in glass houses. And what you might call crowing is really just the expression of utter disgust at what appears to be staggering hypocrisy.

  4. I was one ‘astute reader’ detecting such duplications, and it should be made clear that the retracted article is not an exact duplicate of the other one. The narrative and layout of images is slightly different, as some wording, i.e. a different version of the same but submitted elsewhere.
    The other corrected papers repeat same images and results in a mosaic, often in a different context. Perhaps there further issues than initially reported, if other readers would like to double check.

    1. In that logic, once you pass a publication threshold everything is allowed? JATdS would give you a hard time if you use this argument with any other researcher…

      If it is just a matter of amount I just hope that, from now on, JATdS spend less time blogging and more time revising his prolific contributions in predatory/obscure journal to set the record straight.

      Remarkably JATdS did not mention any misuse of funds in his correction…

      I have to love the irony of his latest published paper

      Copy-Paste: 2-Click Step to Success and Productivity that Underlies Self-Plagiarism.
      Teixeira da Silva JA.
      Sci Eng Ethics. 2016 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print] No abstract available.

      1. “If it is just a matter of amount I just hope that, from now on, JATdS spend less time blogging and more time revising his prolific contributions in predatory/obscure journal to set the record straight”. I really expect the same!

    2. Don’t forget that his publication count is (or at least should be) now less by a few, however unofficial that may be. Who knows, maybe it will drop lower upon closer scrutiny of his publication record.

    3. I totally agree in that one may expect many questionable issues inside a mass of technical papers spawning from the same author and source place. Given that producing one sound piece of technical literature demands open-ended hours of literature search, critical thinking, and proof-editing, I believe one can only advance into hundreds-order of magnitude by embracing questionable caveats around traditional principles, e.g. authorship, reliability, preciseness, originality.

    1. Who knows, he could be just anyone in this anonymous discussion. This in fact is a main intrinsic issue of anonymous discussions — one must never forget the fact that there is one actual person, complete with interests and biased intent, behind every word.

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