Too much skin in the game: Derm journal calls out author for duplication

We often praise authors for doing the right thing by retracting with transparency. Here’s a journal that deserves recognition for its handling of a case of duplicate publication.

Acta Dermatovenerologica Alpina, Pannonica et Adriatica (ADAPA), a European derm publication, has retracted a 2018 article in smack-down fashion, calling out a co-author for deceit. The paper was a case study titled “Inflamed bilateral linear atrophoderma of Moulin in an adult woman: a case report.” According to ADAPA, a reader noticed that a virtually identical article — with the same title — had appeared in a Turkish dermatology publication in late 2017.

In an lengthy editorial, Jovan Miljković, the editor-in-chief of the journal, explained what happened after a review of the two papers found them to be “virtually identical”:

Our editorial office immediately contacted Akpinar Kara regarding our findings, requesting a detailed explanation of how duplicate publication had occurred. In her reply, Akpinar Kara stated that the manuscript had indeed also been sent to J Turk Acad Dermatol (no exact date of submission provided), but that no reply from J Turk Acad Dermatol was received for a significant period of time. Moreover, Akpinar Kara claimed that the authors had not received any feedback from J Turk Acad Dermatol, including a peer review, and were only notified via e-mail 1 year after submission that the article had been accepted for publication in J Turk Acad Dermatol.

Reasonable enough — but untrue, and easily verifiable. As Miljković wrote:

The editor-in-chief of J Turk Acad Dermatol was contacted and provided with the statements by Akpinar Kara. Contrary to the claims of Akpinar Kara, the editorial office of J Turk Acad Dermatol claimed that the manuscript was added to their editorial system by Akpinar Kara on October 8th, 2017 (i.e., 3 months after submission to Acta Dermatovenerol APA and more than a month after the authors were informed that their manuscript had been accepted for publication in Acta Dermatovenerol APA). Moreover, contrary to the claims by Akpinar Kara, J Turk Acad Dermatol informed us that the manuscript had been subjected to peer-review (two independent reviews) and that an acceptance letter was sent to Akpinar Kara on January 23rd, 2018 via e-mail. Finally, J Turk Acad Dermatol informed us that a revised version of the manuscript was submitted to J Turk Acad Dermatol by the author via their editorial system on January 29th, 2018.”

Kara, whose full name is Yesim Akpinary Kara, is listed as being with the Department of Dermatology at Ufuk University in Ankara, Turkey. We could not reach her for comment.

The episode doesn’t appear to be her first offense. According to the expression of concern in ADAPA (again a PDF):

After the duplicate publication of an article by Yesim Akpinar Kara was identified (1–3), concerns were raised whether other cases of scientific misconduct occurred by the same author. The editorial office of Acta Dermatovenerologica Alpina, Pannonica et Adriatica (Acta Dermatovenerol APA) searched for and reviewed all manuscripts submitted to our journal by Akpinar Kara. In addition to the first case of duplicate publication described in detail in this issue of Acta Dermatovenerol APA (1), we identified another case of duplicate publication by the same author: the article “The measurement of serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels in patients with lichen planus” by Y. Akpinar Kara published in the July/August 2018 issue of Indian Journal of Dermatology (Indian J Dermatol) (PMID: 30078872; DOI:  10.4103/ijd.IJD_474_17) (4) was practically identical to the original article “The measurement of serum TNF-α levels in patients with lichen planus” published in the December 2017 issue of Acta Dermatovenerol APA (PMID: 29264897; DOI: 10.15570/actaapa.2017.26) (5) by the same author. In February 2019, the editorial office of Acta Dermatovenerol APA contacted both the author as well as the editors of Indian J Dermatol. Pending the final resolution of this case, Acta Dermatovenerol APA is publishing this editorial expression of concern.

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