An author who published an article in Journal A at the end of the year wrote to advise that it would have to be retracted on the grounds that his PhD tutor, Professor X, had already submitted a similar manuscript more than a year earlier to another journal. In the absence of any contact from the tutor, the author had assumed that this manuscript had not been accepted and went ahead with her own submission. She then explained that some personal and professional issues had distracted her for some time, after which her PhD tutor told her that his manuscript had indeed been accepted and published elsewhere. The lengthy review process had caused serious delays since it was first submitted, he said. The second paper was published two months after the first. The letter writer and Professor X are listed as authors on both the papers. The copyright assignment form for Journal A shows that Professor X was a signatory and therefore knew that the paper was under consideration.
- The journal in question only requests licence to publish at the point of acceptance. If both authors had signed the licence form then the professor clearly knew about the publication in the first journal.
- On the facts presented, the editor of Journal A has no grounds to retract the paper.
- The author has no "right" to request a retraction without appropriate grounds. The author may have been under pressure to request retraction of the first paper.
- The editor should write to the authors' institution to look into the case, informing the authors of his intention to do this.
- The editor should contact the other journal to publish a notice of duplicate publication.