Since April, the Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine (RJIM) retracted nine papers (eight for plagiarism, one for duplication); four of these were co-authored by Manole Cojocaru, a researcher at the Titu Maiorescu University (TMU) in Bucharest, Romania. Subsequently, the journal has banned Cojocaru from submitting manuscripts, and has also informed the ethics committee at his institution.
Here’s the retraction notice, which is the same for six of the papers:
The Editorial Board of Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine is retracting the following articles:
– Cojocaru M ,Chicoş B. ASIA or Shoenfeld’s syndrome–an autoimmune syndrome induced by adjuvants. Rom J Intern Med. 2013;51(3-4):131-4 
– Cojocaru M, Cojocaru IM, Chicos B. New insight into the rheumatoid vasculitis. Rom J Intern Med. 2015;53(2):128-32 
-Cojocaru IM, Cojocaru M, Butnaru L, Miu G , Tănăsescu R. Study of anti-endothelial cell antibodies in SLE patients with acute ischemic stroke. Rom J Intern Med. 2010;48(2):173-7 
– Dumitrescu AL, Zetu L, Teslaru S. Metabolic syndrome and periodontal diseases. Rom J Intern Med. 2008;46(3):207-12. 
– Achim C, Zgură A, Zgură D, Voiculescu M. Current therapies in hepatorenal syndrome. Rom J Intern Med. 2014;52(4):201-15. 
– Stanciu S, Iordache M, Busuioceanu A, Tănăseanu G, Zamfir L, Mureşan M, Bogdan MA. The metabolic and inflammatory profile in obese patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Rom J Intern Med. 2009;47(2):123-32. 
The Editorial Board received warnings regarding the suspicion of plagiarism for all these articles. After an internal inquiry by editors of the journal it was concluded that indeed all these articles were plagiarized, with high similarity index. Emails were sent to the corresponding authors acknowledging the scientific misconduct and the decision. The Editorial Board of the Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine decided to retract all the above mentioned articles.
A spokesperson for RJIM told us:
…[Cojocaru] was banned from publishing in our journal and also there is ongoing a letter to inform the Ethics Committee of his affiliation about the scientific misconduct.
The spokesperson added that there have recently been some changes at the journal:
Our journal has changed most of its Editorial Board and Editorial Secretary in the past year and after being published by deGruyter Open we have had access to Ithenticate in order to check for plagiarism articles submitted.
We have alone depicted the issues and also an independent observer has pointed out some of them.
The spokesperson said that authors of all papers were informed about the journal’s decision, and there have been no disputes.
However, Alexandrina L. Dumitrescu in Bucharest, who co-authored the fourth paper listed in the retraction notice, told us the authors of her paper disagree with the journal’s decision, noting:
I was informed by the Editorial Board by the plagiarism suspicion of 67% detected with the iThenticate. However, at the final results analysis it can be seen that the similarity index is only of 11%…
Dumitrescu’s affiliation on the paper is listed as “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, but is currently listed as an “Independent Researcher” on ResearchGate.
Alexandra Kalogeraki, as corresponding authors and on behalf of all contributors have requested retraction of their two reviews articles both published in Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine entitled “EUS – Fine- Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB) in the Diagnosis of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma: A Review “  and “Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB) in the Diagnosis of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Review “  due to the fact that the two above mentioned papers are a matter of an administrative inquiry under the suspicion of plagiarism.
Given the evidence provided and the request of the authors of the reviews the Editorial Board of Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine decided to retract the two reviews at the authors’ request.
And here’s the fourth retraction notice for Cojocaru, this time for duplication:
The Editorial Board of Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine retracted the review article of M. Cojocaru and B. Chicos “Genetic Differences between Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis”  from Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine after being informed that this review was actually duplicate publication that had been previously published in another journal (Romanian Journal of Rare Diseases) . Comparing these two papers revealed that in fact the review paper published in RJIM  was a duplicate paper and second version submitted and therefore in this case there was a scientific misconduct.
We came across some of these retractions on this anti-plagiarism blog, which lists another retraction from 2013 for duplication in the Romanian Journal of Laboratory Medicine (RJLM). Strangely, however, the authors retracted the first version of the paper published in 2006, rather than the 2007 version (which appeared in the Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine). Here’s the retraction notice:
Due to publication in Rom J Intern Med, 2007, 45, 2, 193-199, PMID:18333374 of the article entitled:
Integrin expression on monocytes and lymphocytes in unstable angina – short term effects of atorvastatin. Minodora Dobreanu, D. Dobreanu, Andrea Fodor, Anca Bacârea,
the authors decide the retraction of the earlier communication of the results (Short term effects of atorvastatin on leucocytes integrin expression in unstable angina. Minodora Dobreanu, D. Dobreanu, Catrinel Gălăţeanu, Andrea Fodor, Anca Bacârea) in the unindexed issue of Rev Romana Med Lab. 2006;2(1):62-70.
We’ve found this report (in Romanian), and based on what we can tell from Google-translate, we think it’s an investigation into the case by the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Târgu Mureș in Romania, where the first author of both papers, Minodora Dobreanu, is based.
The internal medicine journal is not indexed by Thomson Reuters Web of Science, and the paper in the laboratory journal is yet to be indexed.
We’ve reached out to Cojocaru and his institution for further clarifications. We’ve also contacted the authors of the other newly retracted papers: Kalogeraki from the University of Crete in Greece; Cornelia Achim of the Fundeni Clinical Institute in Bucharest; Silviu Stanciu at the Central Military Hospital in Bucharest and Minodora Dobreanu from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Târgu Mureș in Romania.
We’ll update the post with anything else we learn.
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