Friday, April 25, 2008

More on Cha/Flamm and the californiastemcellreport

There are two comments on the californiastemcellreport post titled Flamm Wins Latest Round Against Korean Stem Cell Researcher, one of which is from
a spokesman for Dr. Cha who said, in part:

The [Los Angeles] Times quoted the editor of the Korean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology saying he was certain it was “a case of multiple publication,” which is not plagiarism, and casts doubt on the truth of the plagiarism allegation.

IPBiz notes this is tricky. The editorial policy of Fertility & Sterility, in place at the time of the infraction, states

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. [Contained in earlier IPBiz post.]

There was more than 200 words, not in quotes, from a paper previously published in KJOG. As far as the policy of Fertility & Sterility was concerned, this was plagiarism. What KJOG calls this is irrelevant. As a separate matter, when authors copy the results of a first published paper into a second paper, without citing the first paper in the second paper, IPBiz considers that plagiarism. Although there was some sleight of hand involving authors common to the KJOG and FS papers (Lee and Sung Won Cho ), no one mentions that the plagiarism criteria of FS, which don't involve a common author safe harbor, clearly label this behavior plagiarism. QED. The Cha spokesman did not address this problem.

The Cha spokesman also pointed out:

As we all now know, these causes for doubt in the L.A. Times article were borne out by the F&S editor’s subsequent retraction and apology in which he stated publicly: “Considering the facts of the matter, I consider my references to ‘plagiarism’ and ‘perjury’ to be inaccurate and regrettable.”

From an analytical point of view, does editor DeCherney's apology erase the objective conclusion based on the uncontested facts?

Further, the spokesman did NOT mention, that, at the relevant time, F&S, its parent, and the LA Times had been threatened with lawsuits by Cha.

The irony of the Flamm matter is that an individual (Flamm) ended up carrying the legal weight that F&S, its parent, and the LA Times declined to carry. Additionally, the legal issues in the Flamm matter were a bit different than those that would have been confronted if the Fertility & Sterility people had gone to court.

As some additional matters, there is no federal crime, or tort, of plagiarism. There is a cause of action for copyright infringement in both the U.S. and South Korea. The Cha spokesman conspicuously avoided discussion of "what happened" as to copyright infringement in South Korea.

In passing, IPBiz does not distinguish much between the complaints discussed on
californiastemcellreport about CIRM taking "too much" credit for the myelofibrosis work (at UCSD) with californiastemcellreport giving "too much" credit to CIRM for Yamanaka.

See also

**Comment submitted to californiastemcellreport on 26 April 2008 -->

I am curious about the journalistic ethics dimensions of text surrounding -- But because of the use of a single, anonymous source, many newspapers would not have carried the story as matter of policy. -- In some earlier posts on californiastemcellreport (for example 17 March 08, with comments on 19 March 08), there was discussion of the reliance by californiastemcellreport on a single, not anonymous, source, which seemed to convey false information to the effect that Yamanaka accepted a state [CIRM] grant in August 2007. Are you suggesting that a journalist may properly rely, without verification, on a single, not anonymous, source, and, when challenged, direct the reader to that single, not anonymous source? This sort of deflection has been a problematic area with "cite checking" in law journals, wherein a student cite checker merely checks the cited material is present in the earlier work, not whether the earlier work is accurate. Thus, all published errors in history become fair game for re-telling, with impunity. You seem to suggest journalists play by the same rules as law review cite checkers. True?

See also

Semantic ramblings on the meaning of "accept"


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