Saturday, April 28, 2007

LA Times discusses retraction by Fertility and Sterility

William Heisel of the Los Angeles Times wrote on the recent decision by Fertility & Sterility to retract the Cha paper:

In an upcoming issue, Fertility and Sterility will publish a statement retracting the article because of "duplicate publication," said Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, which oversees the journal.

The journal's editor, Alan DeCherney, had said earlier that he believed the article to have been plagiarized. Tipton said this week that the problem was rather that it had been published elsewhere, which violated the journal's rules, and suggested that the responsibility rested with Cha's underling, Sook-Hwan Lee, who submitted the article to Fertility and Sterility.

Of the issue of whether or not there can be self-plagiarism, Heisel wrote:

Tipton said the society followed the rules of the World Assn. of Medical Editors, which say that plagiarism essentially is authors stealing from each other. This case would not meet that definition because two of the authors were the same on both of the papers: Lee and Sung Won Cho.

The PROBLEM with this is that THIS definition is NOT CONSISTENT with what is on the website of Fertility and Sterility, as has been discussed in an earlier IPBiz post. Fertility and Sterility says:

Previously published material can be cited in a manuscript, but it must be indicated by quotation marks. If more than 200 words from a previously published manuscript appear in a manuscript that is submitted as an original work and if this material is not indicated with quotation marks, the material will be considered to be plagiarized. Plagiarism is also a serious offense.

There is NO LIMITATION WHATSOEVER on "who" did the previous publishing. Furthermore, even taking the presently offerred explanation of non-plagiarism ("This case would not meet that definition because two of the authors were the same on both of the papers: Lee and Sung Won Cho"), there would STILL be plagiarism UNLESS Lee and/or Cho WROTE every word in the KSOG/KJOG article. Given that the words of the KSOG/KJOG paper previously appeared in Kim's thesis (of which Lee and Sung Won Cho were NOT authors), one suspects there is a problem with the non-plagiarism explanation.

The Times also has the text:

But experts contacted by The Times said they thought the American Society for Reproductive Medicine made the right decision.

"It's clearly egregious, but it would not rise to a level of what we would call plagiarism because of the common authorship, no matter how limited it might be," said John Dahlberg, director of the Division of Investigative Oversight for the federal Office of Research Integrity.

IPBiz notes that in the patent business, one goes to the fine detail of "who contributed to which claims." The FOCUS is on WHAT ONE AFFIRMATIVELY CONTRIBUTED. If a person contributed to a claim, but was NOT named as an inventor, there would be a PROBLEM, which would NOT be excused because some named inventors contributed to OTHER claims. Dahlberg is simply wrong in suggesting that "common authorship" would vitiate a finding of plagiarism if the name of a contributing AUTHOR was OMITTED. Here, given that the work came from Kim's thesis, it would seem that the name of the PRINCIPAL author was omitted.

It might appear that the Los Angeles Times (which itself was threatened with a lawsuit by the Cha folks) is willing to bury this story.


Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert said...

See also

9:48 AM  
Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert said...

See also

Note that neither the Chronicle of Higher Education nor The Scientist mention the information in Kim's thesis.

9:54 AM  

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