Thursday, February 14, 2008

Plagiarized Proteomics Paper Pulled

Further to an earlier post on IPBiz, the journal Proteomics retracted a plagiarized paper.

There was little explanation for how this paper passed through peer review.

The Chronicle of Higher Education noted:

In the news announcement, Mr. Dunn said: “Clearly human error has caused a misstep in the normally rigorous peer review that is standard practice for Proteomics and should prevent such issues arising.”

This, and more (less?), could be expected from peer-to-patent.

IPBiz got an email from the peer-to-patent people -->

Thanks to you, Peer-to-Patent has already put before the USPTO, in connection with a few dozen applications in the pilot, more than 3 times the number of prior art submissions than the Office received for all patent applications last year. But there is still more work to be done.

Peer-to-Patent is hosting a number of applications that need your expertise! There are currently 12 applications covering a wide array of inventions:

Method for configuring a windfarm network
(Submitted by GE, available for review until February 21, 2008)
Technique to modify a timer
(Submitted by Intel, available for review until February 28, 2008)
Cross-cutting detection of event patterns
(Submitted by IBM, available for review until March 6, 2008)
User interface paradigm for manufacturing applications
(Submitted by GE, available for review until March 13, 2008)
Computer compliance system and method
(Submitted by GE, available for review until March 13, 2008)
Vector length tracking mechanism
(Submitted by Intel, available for review until March 27, 2008)
Method and apparatus for determining the switch port to which an end-node device is connected
(Submitted by HP, available for review until March 27, 2008)
System and method for managing virtual collaboration systems
(Submitted by HP, available for review until March 27, 2008)
Automatic tracking of user data and reputation checking
(Submitted by Microsoft, available for review until March 27, 2008)
Relocating page tables
(Submitted by Sun Microsystems, available for review until April 3, 2008)
Method for generating mnemonic random passcodes
(Submitted by Sun Microsystems, available for review until April 17, 2008)
Method for resource sharing in a multiple pipeline environment
(Submitted by IBM, available for review until April 17, 2008)

Descriptions for each of the applications can be found here.

The success of Peer-to-Patent depends upon participation from a knowledgeable, diverse community. If you know anyone who might be interested in these applications, please forward this on to them or ask them to visit!

**IPBiz notes a fair amount of email traffic on Microsoft's published application 20070300174 (MONITORING GROUP ACTIVITIES ), a lot of which can't be put on the blog.
[See 19 Jan. 08 IPBiz post: Microsoft "spyware" for monitoring activities? ] It would be nice if folks could review applications that really have people in a lather.

Also, IPBiz is puzzled by peer-to-patent's statement: more than 3 times the number of prior art submissions than the Office received for all patent applications [??] last year

See also A Massive Case Of Fraudwhich gets into the failings of peer review:

A CHEMIST IN INDIA has been found guilty of plagiarizing and/or falsifying more than 70 research papers published in a wide variety of Western scientific journals between 2004 and 2007, according to documents from his university, copies of which were obtained by C&EN. Some journal editors left reeling by the incident say it is one of the most spectacular and outrageous cases of scientific fraud they have ever seen. IPBiz suggests that the Schon and Hwang incidents are far more significant.

Christian, who is professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Washington, Seattle, says Chiranjeevi's tactic was to flood journals with manuscript submissions in the hopes of wearing down editors who would eventually publish some of his work. "He published 70-plus papers in 25 journals in three years," Christian says. "The case is unprecedented." IPBiz suggests Christian check out Schon's publication rate.

[Christian] says only careful analysis and comparison with other papers will reveal plagiarism, a task journal editors simply don't have the time or resources to pursue. IPBiz notes that "third parties" did the careful analysis in the Schon matter.

According to Dasgupta, Chiranjeevi has proclaimed his innocence through all of this and threatened to sue him in international court. He says Chiranjeevi blamed persons unknown for submitting falsified papers under his name through e-mail addresses that Chiranjeevi did not recognize or use.
But the university's investigation, according to the SVU source, found that Chiranjeevi had used those same e-mail addresses in papers that he stood behind as authentic. "He was trying to throw blame on his students," the source says.
IPBiz notes that Dr. Cha really has sued people, like Dr. Flamm.

The C&E News article offers excuses for the failure of the reviewers:

"I cannot find fault with the peer reviewers," says the SVU source, because not all of the journals he published in dealt exclusively with chemistry. "The chemistry described for the preparation of the reagents involves organic reactions, and maybe some of the reviewers were not aware of the chemistry involved. Plagiarism is very difficult to prove for many reasons,
"We rely on peer reviewers, and for some reason no one ever picked up on the fact that he was submitting the same stuff over and over again," Christian says. He says he did reject a number of Chiranjeevi's papers without review because of similarities with earlier papers, but it takes a lot of an editor's time to track down and compare the papers and justify scientifically to the author why a paper is not accepted for review.
"Reviewers are overwhelmed," he continues, pointing out that they do not have the time necessary to prescreen manuscript submissions for such problems. "The Elsevier in-house experiment with software to identify similarities between papers should help," Christian says.
IPBiz notes that if reviewers really knew the field, tracking down papers would not be difficult. But the reviewers frequently don't know the field. And, one thing NOT MENTIONED in the C&E News article is what happens when reviewers present negative reviews and the journal publishes anyway. This happened with Schon, and with bubble fusion.

There is an allusion to etBlast: Dasgupta also says editors and reviewers are overwhelmed and reliant on the honor system at the heart of scientific publishing. "Plagiarism can be guarded against," he says, "but out-and-out fraud is hard to guard against."
ONE TOOL that Dasgupta has used to find reviewers—and that might be useful in discovering plagiarism—is a Web-based tool called eTBlast. Developed by computational biologists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, the free service does a similarity search of text that someone inputs with papers in Medline or other online databases. Dasgupta and others say it could be a powerful tool for weeding out plagiarism in journal manuscript submissions.
The developers of eTBlast have now developed a duplicate submission database called Deja vu. Both are available for free, eTBlast at and Deja vu at
Of Chiranjeevi, "this is by far the most egregious case of scientific fraud in 30 years," says G. Bruce Wiersma, a professor in the department of forest ecosystem science at the University of Maine and the editor of Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, a Springer Netherlands journal. He says the journal published three Chiranjeevi papers, all of which have been retracted.
"The problem with peer review is that it is an honor system," Wiersma says. "There is no fail-safe. If people want to break the honor system, there is nothing you can do."

Author Shulz got into multiple publication: At worst Wiersma thought Chirnajeevi might be veering toward self-plagiarism—essentially submitting the same or nearly the same paper over and over again to Wiersma and other journal editors. "I sent him a letter and said, 'Don't do this.' I was trying to be fair and point out that this isn't professional."
All authors who submit articles to any journal fill out a statement saying that they have not submitted to another journal. "That's the only protection we have—and it's not much protection," Wiersma says.
IPBiz notes that there was no mention of the Cha matter at Fertility & Sterility.

Sadly, the article is an example of the low quality of research done at Chemical & Engineering News.


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