An author contacted our journal in August 2011 informing us that a paper he had published in our journal in 2005 had been published, word for word, in another journal (journal X), under a different title and author group, in 2007.
We followed the appropriate COPE flowchart and contacted the editor of journal X. The editor of journal X told us in September 2011 that he would publish a retraction and a letter submitted from the author group admitting a "disagreeable mistake".
Journal X publishes infrequently, so I checked over the past 12 months for the retraction and published letter. The notice and letter were never published and the article is still available through the journal's website and SCOPUS. I contacted the editor of journal X in October 2012 to ask him if he planned to retract the article and publish the letter, as we had agreed. He replied that the article was no longer available. I sent him the link where I was able to retrieve it and he did not reply back.
The original author of the paper contacted the author group's institution in September 2011, but he never received a response.
In the COPE flowchart for suspected plagiarism, the journal that published the plagiarized article issues a retraction; however, what should be done if that journal will not correct the record? Journal X is not a member of COPE.
The Forum noted that readers will be confused by having two versions of the paper available in the literature. Hence the advice was for the editor to publish a notice linked to the article explaining the relationship between it and the plagiarized article, which has not been retracted and is still available online. The Forum also recommended alerting the other publisher to the fact that the editor is planning on publishing this notice to see if that will make them respond and formally retract the article. The Forum agreed that there was not a lot else the editor could do but did suggest writing an editorial on this issue.
The editor contacted the editor/publisher again following the advice of the COPE Forum, attaching a notice letting him know that the journal would publish the notice if he did not retract the article. The author agreed to retract it but removed it instead from his site; it was still available in an internet search. The editor suggested he replace the original with a version that included a retraction notice and a watermark on each page that indicated the article was retracted. He agreed to this but did not know how to do it, so the journal prepared the document for him. This was done on 18 February 2013 and the journal is waiting for him to upload this version to his website.
Update (December 2013)
The original article PDF and the "retraction notice" appear in a Google search; however, the retraction letter does not seem to be visible in Scopus so it has clearly not been linked correctly to the original article. As we have discussed before, this publisher appears to be ignorant of the established protocols for handling situations like this. In back-and-forth conversation with him, we did provide a PDF of the article with the retraction watermark for him and explained that the retraction notice had to link to the article. The retraction letter was not that easy to find—you would need to know what to search for to find it. No further action was ever taken by the publisher. On the plus side, their article has never been cited by any journals that are in Scopus, and our article has been cited 57 times by Scopus journals.
We do not feel that we can do any more at this point, but would be interested to hear what the Forum might say as far as whether this case should be considered closed or, if not, what more we could do.
The Forum agreed that there was little else the editor could do. The only suggestion was that perhaps the editor should reach out to the other editor, in an effort to educate and inform on the correct course of action in a case such as this.