Author A contacted author B. Author B had published a paper several years ago that contained verbatim text of author A’s previously published work. The verbatim work was cited but presented to the readers as paraphrased from the original. Similarity checking software showed that the paraphrased text was too close to the original text; in fact, it was quoted verbatim.
Author A is demanding that author B request the publisher to remove all of the text used from author A’s published work. Removing all of author A’s work from author B’s published manuscript equates to 8% of the text. The text to be removed would be the ‘paraphrased text' and the reference list entries to author A's work.
The concerns raised by author A to validate the removal of their text from the published work are that although the name of author A lies buried in the sections where phrases, sentences, and whole paragraphs have been lifted from their work, the actual passages lifted are not marked as quotations (by quotation marks, indentation or in any other way); the impression therefore is that the lifted passages are at best, author B own words, or at worse, author B is paraphrasing the words of author A. But neither is true. These are whole passages lifted from the work of author A. An internet search of the words contained in author A’s work will wrongfully and fraudulently show up as belonging to author B.
Question(s) for the Forum
- How can the publisher correct the publication record in this instance?
- Should the publisher retract the paper or publish a corrigendum?
The Forum advised that it is important where the overlap or plagiarism occurred in the article. If the verbatim text is in the results section or directly affects the findings of the paper, then retraction might be necessary. However, if the copied text is in the introduction or methods sections, for example, then a corrigendum might be more appropriate.
The journal should decide if this is a case of plagiarism and deal with it appropriately. The editor may wish to consult the COPE flowchart on how to deal with plagiarism in a published paper.