A reviewer, R1, brought to our attention several suspected cases of plagiarism in paper A1, submitted by authors A.
The main concerns were:
— large parts of paper A1 resembled paper B submitted by a different group of authors B, with one of the most major changes being a change in the observation day;
— large parts of a section were taken from paper C by author C, including an entire figure;
— other sentences were copied from other papers.
The paper was rejected with no further repercussions for authors A. Authors A then resubmitted the manuscript to our journal a year later. We had since become more aware of pursuing cases of suspected plagiarism and asked for a statement before submission to peer review. Authors A answered in great detail, providing lots of information, apologizing profoundly and promised to take the utmost care that this would never happen again. We discussed this case and decided to proceed with peer review, treating this as a once only mistake and noticed that all of the criticized sections and more had been removed and/or rewritten.
Paper A2 was then reviewed by reviewer R2, who found new cases of plagiarism, different from the first. Again, the corresponding author A, when asked to comment, apologized profusely.
We are unsure how to treat this, as the sections copied are not too extensive. However, given the author's history, we feel the need to issue a ban or possibly notify the institute? Does the Forum agree?
The Forum advised contacting the author’s institution. The editor should write to the institution informing them of the misconduct, but emphasising that the authors perhaps need to be educated on how to correctly cite papers, reiterating that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. The Forum agreed that it is likely that the author will continue to submit articles unless there is some intervention from the institution. The Forum again noted that COPE does not support sanctions against authors or banning authors from submitting papers because of the legal ramifications,