Cureus retracts paper for plagiarism following Retraction Watch inquiries 

The journal Cureus has retracted a 2022 paper on cancer and the environment just weeks after Retraction Watch raised questions about apparent plagiarism in the article. 

As we reported in early April, the paper, “Causes of Cancer in the World: Comparative Risk Assessment of Nine Behavioral and Environmental Risk Factors”, had a bit of a twinsies thing going with a 2005 article in The Lancet – sharing a title, figures, and wording that “follows the Lancet one on a sentence-by-sentence level while using tortured phrases,” according to the anonymous tipster who informed us of the issue. 

The April 19 retraction notice states:

This article has been retracted by the Editor-in-Chief. The title and figures have been taken directly from a 2005 article published in Lancet: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67725-2. Additionally, the article appears to follow the Lancet article on a sentence-by-sentence basis with evidence of tortured phrases. The journal regrets that these issues were not identified during the plagiarism check at the time of submission. The authors agree with this decision to retract.

As we’ve noted elsewhere in a report on the team that developed the phrase, “Tortured phrases are what happens to words that get translated from English into a foreign language, then back to English — perhaps by a computer trying to generate a scholarly publication for a group of unscrupulous authors.”

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