The authors submitted a paper to our journal which went through the review process and was accepted for publication. It was then placed online in corrected proof. While online we were informed by a reader that the paper appeared to have been published in a journal local to the authors, although only an abstract was available in English. We requested that the authors submit an English language version of the original paper so that we could assess whether this was a case of dual publication. In the meantime, we removed the online version.
Following this, the authors withdrew the paper. The question now is, should we pursue this further by reporting the authors to the regulators in their country for an apparent attempt at dual publication and, if so, to whom should we report?
The Forum reiterated the fact (raised in case 10-14) that if something is published online, then it should be considered published. Hence, an editor cannot simply remove a paper from their website. In this case, the author cannot withdraw his paper as it has been published. A paper should only be removed from on online site if it has been formally retracted. If the editor has clear evidence of duplicate publication (ie, if he can review the translated published paper and determine the degree of overlap between the two papers), then he should re-instate the paper on the website along with a notice of duplicate publication. The editor should follow the flowchart on ‘Suspected redundant publication in a published article’. He should contact the authors for an explanation. If no response or an unsatisfactory response is obtained, he should consider contacting the authors’ institution.
The authors formally retracted the paper. Therefore, the paper was not re-instated. The reason given by the authors was that they did not want to go to the expense of providing an English translation of their original paper. At this stage my inclination is to do nothing further.