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Advice regarding a weird type of content and its authorship


Our company publishes clinical pathways.
They were initially authored by local experts, but have since been retrofitted with evidence, if possible. This was done by expert “evidologists”, not clinical experts; they were acknowledged solely by their company name (it was “out-sourced”). If the evidence did not fit, the pathway was discarded.


Unethical withdrawal of a paper


The terms author A and author B will be used to refer to the corresponding and non-corresponding authors, respectively, of the paper in question. The term Editor will be used for Editor A of our journal and Editor B of the other journal involved. The term Editorial Assistant will be used to refer to the person who is in charge of correspondence for our journal.


Repeated alleged plagiarism in case reports


Our journal has recently been the subject of an attack of attempted plagiarism by an author from a military hospital in another country. The first evidence of this was alerted to us by one of our reviewers who identified an almost word-for-word copy of a paper previously published in which the disease being treated was changed slightly and a few numbers but everything else, including the reference list, was almost identical.


Failure to ask permission


I am a trainer and author of books on medical writing. It was brought to my attention that a chapter in a German-language book published in Switzerland was based almost entirely on my teaching. The first author is director of a privately funded research institution and the second author a member of staff. The second author attended one of my courses.


A case of duplicate publication?


A paper was accepted and published in journal A which dealt with a cohort of patients with an unusual respiratory pathogen. A similar paper had been published in a US journal B a few months before. It dealt with more or less the same patients (a few more had been added) and provided some extra secondary outcome data but with the same conclusions. 

The editor of journal A considered this to be duplication but the authors deny this on the grounds that there are further data.


A severe case of plagiarism?


A review article was submitted to the journal and sent for peer review. One of the reviewers brought to the editor’s attention that a substantial number of sentences and sections of the paper had directly, verbatim, been copied from chapter books and a monograph he had written in the past. The editor asked the reviewer to provide the texts in question.


An article in a high profile journal that potentially misappropriates research published in lower impact journals


 It has been drawn to our attention that a paper published in a high-impact journal in the field of biological sciences (Journal A) draws very heavily on research published in the lower-impact factor journal for which we work (Journal B), as well as on work published in other journals.


Availability of reagents


One of our journals has published several articles describing use of a particular cell line X, which belongs to company Y. The authors included employees of company Y. A reader at a university, Dr Z, wished to gain access to cell line X, and requested it from company Y. He was informed by the director of science of company Y that ‘ is Y’s intention to keep control of the integrity of the X materials as much as possible, thereby taking care of our licensees’ interests.


A breach of intellectual property rights?


We recently published article A by author group X on our website ahead of print publication and subsequently received a formal complaint from author group Y alleging that the paper constitutes a breach of their intellectual property rights.


A(uthor) vs C(omplainant) authorship dispute


A was a researcher in C’s lab for 1 year, during which time they published a joint research paper in a third party journal (journal S). After leaving C’s institute (henceforth called institute X), A published in the journal (journal T as a sole author). The affiliation provided by A on the paper was institute X.