“Youth Guru” loses turkey-neck paper that overlapped with book chapter

Ronald Moy

A prominent cosmetic surgeon and his daughter have lost a 2017 paper on treating men with excessive neck flab — otherwise known as “turkey neck” — because much of the work appears to have duplicated a book chapter he co-authored about the topic.

The first author of the retracted article is Ronald L. Moy, a plastic surgeon to the stars in Beverly Hills, Calif., and a past president of both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society of Dermatology. In a 2012 article about area plastic surgeons, LA Confidential Magazine dubbed Moy the “youth guru” and a local leader in the use of “new research and a comprehensive approach to restore a youthful complexion—no cutting required.”

His co-author was his daughter, Lauren Moy, who appears to be working with him in his Rodeo Drive dermatology practice.

The retracted article, “Male surgical neck rejuvenation,” was published last November in Dermatologic Surgery — which Moy edited from 1996 through at least 2000.

According to the retraction notice, the article:

is being retracted due to evidence of redundant publication (text-recycling) per guidelines of the Council [sic] of Publication Ethics and the International Council of Medical Journal Editing [sic, again] (ICMJE). Large portions of the text appeared previously in Chapter 4 “Neck rejuvenation” in Rejuvenation of the Aging Body-Surgical and Nonsurgical Treatments published by JP Medical Ltd. in 2017, and therefore, do not meet the Dermatologic Surgery requirement that all articles are original in nature. While it is acknowledged that short phrases do appear in more than one article in similar topics, for larger portions of re-used text, the original work must be cited.

We contacted Ronald Moy, but haven’t heard back.

We also asked William Coleman III, editor in chief of the journal, for a bit more information. His reply:

The article “Male Surgical Neck Rejuvenation” was retracted after the duplication was brought to the attention of the editor in chief.

Coleman did not respond to our questions about how he learned about the duplication.

Richard Furn, publisher of the textbook, said he had not been aware of the retracted article. The Amazon listing for the book says the publication date was October 2016, not 2017, as per the retraction notice.

The article noted that the doctors Moy “have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.” That statement appears to be out of date. In early December, the company DermTech announced that Ronald Moy had joined its board of scientific advisors. He also helped found a company called DNARenewal, which “marks the culmination of his passion to create a clinically proven regimen that effectively repairs photo-damaged aging skin.”

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5 thoughts on ““Youth Guru” loses turkey-neck paper that overlapped with book chapter”

  1. Am I reading this correctly? A doctor published a book, and in it was a probably technical section on a procedure which probably doesn’t have much scientific material published on it anyway (since it’s cosmetic). So he takes the material from his OWN book and creates a scientific article out of it and it was published.

    *the material wasn’t factually incorrect
    *the material wasn’t plagiarized (can you plagiarize yourself?)
    *we can assume that he had the permission of his daughter to publish/republish it, though it warrants asking
    *the material wasn’t fictional data
    *the material had scientific value because it was published in the first place

    So it was retracted entirely for the reason of being largely a duplicate of previously published work?

    This seems like the peer review publishers flexing their muscles, an acting in a way that attempts to silence new ideas. Unless we’re missing parts of the story?

    1. “Self-plagiarism” can indeed be considered as an oxymoron, like the “business ethics” concept. In the case of scholar publications, however, redundant publications are in first instance considered as a poor strategy aimed at artificially padding your CV.

      Some interesting features related to the definition of self-plagiarism have been discussed by Michele Garfinkel (EMBO). For example, data published under a public domain CC-0 license are, by definition, (self)-plagiarizable. Please see:

      Miguel Roig also issued a commentary on this story:

  2. How is retraction of duplicated previously published work which probably didn’t have much scientific material silencing new ideas?

    1. I think what’s missing here is the “evidence based medicine” issue. A patient goes to their doctor and says “Dr, I have here a book by a surgeon who says he can fix my turkey neck.” What does the doctor do? In most cases, the patient is warned that scientific discussion takes place in medical journals and the Dr. might have published it in a book because no journal would publish it. Hinting, it might be flawed. Patient is now confused about what to trust, and still has a turkey neck problem.

      Dr. with the solution now publishes the idea or technique in a peer reviewed journal, not sure why, but I assume, for added validity, and to subject it to peer review (disseminate the idea). And is retracted for self plagiarism. The idea/technique remains out of the official source of scientific ideas.

      Only those who live in an area where his book is available can even read about it.

      It would be interesting to know if the retracted article (in some form) was submitted for publication before the book came out and rejected.

      I can’t judge whether this is a new idea or not. I’m not a surgeon, but it’s easy to abuse peer review in a way that silences unpopular ideas.

      To be fair, it could also be that the doctor was trying to bolster the validity of the technique he prefers. But if that’s the only reason, he isn’t fooling anyone, his name is right there on the supporting study. So my reading of his actions is that he wanted others to verify his finding. That is, he was using peer review as it was intended.

      That’s quite a train of supposition I have built up there. So maybe I should shorten it to “I just don’t think self-plaigarism is a problem.” But I really do think that peer review has some issues to work out, especially if they can use such an excuse to bump an idea out of the discussion.

  3. This paper appears to be a review, not a research article, so yes, I agree with the editorial decision to retract based on text recycling/self-plagiarism/redundant publication.

    It would be one thing if they had copy and pasted their methods section which I think you should be able to with your own methods sections with basically no repercussions, but the article is reviewing and discussing the surgical technique. If the journal article doesn’t give you anything you couldn’t have gotten from the book, then it is pretty redundant.

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