Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cha goes after Flamm over plagiarism business

IPBiz has been covering issues with K.Y. Cha's controversial publications in J.Rep.Med. and Fert. & Sterility for some time. Although the two publications present DIFFERENT issues, a recent lawsuit by Cha against Flamm UNITES the two areas.

An article by Bob Grant titled Scientist sues over opinion piece describes a lawsuit filed by K.Y. Cha against Bruce Flamm, a long-time critic of Cha's paper in JRM, because of remarks Flamm made relating to Cha's paper in F&S.

The problematic text in the March 15, 2007 issue of Ob. Gyn. News. is the following (concerning the authors of the JRM article):

"This may be the first time in history that all three authors of a randomized, controlled study have been found guilty of fraud, deception, and/or plagiarism."

IPBiz notes that the "trick" here is that the plagiarism concerns the paper in F&S, not the paper in JRM.

Anthony Glassman, Cha's attorney, notes: "'Found guilty' states and, in our judgment, implies a declaration of guilt by a court of law or some administrative agency."

Brian Birnie, Flamm's attorney, responds: "To be found guilty of plagiarism, you don't have to be convicted by a jury."

Another issue here is that Flamm relied on a statement by the editor of F&S about the plagiarism: Alan DeCherney, editor-in-chief of Fertility and Sterility, told the LA Times in February of this year, "I'm sure that it's plagiarism." Flamm referenced the quote in his March opinion piece. But after Cha threatened to sue both DeCherney and the LA Times, DeCherney retracted the statements he made to the LA Times and to The Scientist.

IPBiz notes that the recent plagiarism flap with Poshard illustrates that one can be found guilty of plagiarism without a finding of a court of law or some administrative agency. [Poshard was NOT found guilty of "intentional" plagiarism by a university committee, but he could have been.] The convoluted reasoning of the SIU committee illustrates how illusive a definition of plagiarism can seem to be.

Of relevance to the Cha flap at F&S is how F&S defined duplicate publication and plagiarism.

The Cha / Flamm business has larger dimensions. The article notes:

David Faigman, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law who is not involved in the case, agreed that the lawsuit may dissuade other scientists from speaking out about what they suggest to be faulty science. "It's the nature of this kind of lawsuit that it potentially chills other people from making strong statements," he told The Scientist. "The existence of the lawsuit alone is likely to chill scientific discussion."

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