The University of Connecticut, in what clearly seems like an attempt to get ahead of damaging news, has announced an “extensive” investigation into research misconduct involving one of its scientists, Dipak K. Das.
According to a press release, the university has notified 11 journals that published Das’ work about the alleged fraud. One area of interest for Das, a government-funded professor of surgery and director of the Cardiovascular Research Center, has been resveratrol, a substance in red wine that has allegedly been linked to improved cardiac health.
One of the most contentious issues in scholarly publishing is authorship. Sometimes there’s forgery involved, but most of the time the tension is more mundane but also more pernicious: Researchers who did most of the work wondering why “honorary” authors suddenly appear on papers, or wondering why their own names didn’t appear.
The Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) has retracted a November 2011 editorial by a group of French cancer researchers, including David Khayat, the former head of that country’s National Cancer Institute, over what appears to be fairly extensive plagiarism.
Some retractions beg for a kick of sand in the face, and others do the kicking. Here’s an example of what Charles Atlas might have written had he been a journal editor concerned with research integrity.
A report for the Serbian science ministry by the Centre for Evaluation in Education and Science (CEON) found that whopping 11% of scientific journal articles by Serbian authors published in English language but in Serbian journals were plagiarised. The proportion was similar across all sciences (natural, medical, technical and social).
Apart from widespread plagiarism, they also found that 0.35% of the articles in the the Serbian citation index and journal database (SCIndeks) were published twice in identical form, often in the same journal.
Forgetful editors who still track manuscripts ‘manually’ may forget to mark them as ‘published’, which can result in duplicates in the same journal, according to Pero Sipka, director of CEON.
Interestingly, editors and publishers were less likely to deem a paper plagiarised than were outside analysts, according to the report, and not all editors and publishers openly cooperated.
Given the shocking amount of plagiarism you might also expect to see a flurry of retractions, but it’s not so.