A researcher has written to us to point out that a paper published in a German journal in 1993 was put together almost verbatim from articles published in the BMJ in 1989 and the New England Journal of Medicine in 1992. About three quarters of the material in the article in the German paper comes from these two journals. It may be that the data are original but it seems unlikely. What should we do?
The editors of both the BMJ and New England Journal of Medicine have been in correspondence and have written to the editor of the German journal. The editors should ask the author for the original data. Editors of all of the other affected journals should be informed and then a collective submission should be made to the author’s institute. If the allegations can be proved, the institution should be informed that if there is no action or explanation forthcoming on their part, then all the journals will simultaneously publish a notice of plagiarism.
The author turned out to have been guilty of many cases of plagiarism. He was dismissed from his partnership.