The Warda-Han-Proteomics scandal: fingerprints of plagiarism, too

We have now a well-developed and sad case example of irresponsible scientific editing and publishing: the Warda-Han advanced online paper by the academic journal Proteomics: Mitochondria, the missing link between body and soul: Proteomic prospective evidence. What started as an abstract-based hunch and question about the quality of a recent review, addressed to and amplified by the the scientific blogosphere may probably end as a piece of investigative journalism in the mainstream media with serious consequences and conclusions on scientific publishing. Right now, the real investigation takes place at the comment section of the PZ Myers post A baffling failure of peer review over at Pharyngula. The story there is quickly unfolding thanks to the smart and open-eyed (Google-savvy) contributors who figured out amongst others that Warda and Han significantly reduced their review writing efforts by borrowing many sentences from other colleagues’ papers. Here I’d like to mention and cite only 3 comments:

1. Unlike me and others, Mark Farmer qualified himself for an email answer on behalf of Michael Dunn, Editor-in-Chief of Proteomics.

DunnanswertoFarmer

2. Followed by a call of commenter Silli, Ian finds the first hint to plagiarism in the paper.

Iancommentplagiarism

3. John H. McDonald compiles a pdf:

McDonaldcomment

13 thoughts on “The Warda-Han-Proteomics scandal: fingerprints of plagiarism, too

  1. The editorial team at Proteomics will be understandably embarrassed, but I think this whole episode has a bright side.

    An apparent hybrid of plagiarism and nonsense got into a reputable journal, and we do need to find out how that happened. But it’s gratifying to see how quickly it was detected and how effectively it was dismembered – not to mention how reliably ID correlates with intellectual dishonesty.

  2. I am very surprised by the fierce tone of letter and responses. I have not yet had time to read the paper, but I have know both Dr Warda and Jin for some years. They are of the most upright and honest behavior. It would have been much more reasonable of you to pass on the remarks for their comments without making such propaganda. I really think you should hold it on until this matter can be resolved peacefully. It seems that you did forget that the article had been reviewed. If the article contains several errors, misunderstanding, etc that should have spotted and questioned by the referees. If not, the right way is to send a letter to the editor (that contains the question) who in turn forwards it to the authors for response (what we call corrigendum or erratum).

  3. Accusations,

    It would better to scientifically commented on the article rather than accusations with plagiarism. What is the problem if the authors gave their own opinion at the end of their review as a future prospective, which might be correct or incorrect. Through research and technology, we can reach to the fact about hypothesis (for instant, cancer stem cell)

  4. Am-

    Nice try- it’s now been documented that almost the entire article is plagiarised. Your “upright and honest” friends are pathological liars and the scum of science. Crawl back under your rock.

  5. Good points Am. The digital era and Open Access publishing really does change the “rules of etiquette” that the old-school paper backs put in place. It’s a brave new world.

    And the real problem is not just the plagiarisms of the review portions of the article, rather the ridiculous, unsubstantiated conclusions.

    I wonder when Proteomics will print their retraction and apologize to the scientific community?

  6. Am: I did email the authors and editor-in-chief of Proteomics in time. No answers so far. As it is included in the title of my blog post: the responsibility here is 3-fold: Warda, Han, Editors of Proteomics.

    Jay Clayton: there’s no point using words like “scum” here. Please.

  7. Attila-

    Are you familiar with the extent of the plagiarism involved here? I’d suggest you follow the long thread followiung the original posting at Pharyngula- these authors stole massive amounts of intellectual property of others. They didn’t even have the decency to include the sources in their bibliography. If you don’t consider massive cut-and-paste plagiarism to be inexcusable, then we will agree to disagree.

  8. Han is retracting the paper- he is sending out form emails now. He claims he mixed up early and late drafts of the paper and made “serious errors” in the final draft. Hopefully the Journal will be compelled to corroborate this claim.

  9. # am Says:
    February 9, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    I am very surprised by the fierce tone of letter and responses. I have not yet had time to read the paper, but I have know both Dr Warda and Jin for some years. They are of the most upright and honest behavior. It would have been much more reasonable of you to pass on the remarks for their comments without making such propaganda. I really think you should hold it on until this matter can be resolved peacefully. It seems that you did forget that the article had been reviewed. If the article contains several errors, misunderstanding, etc that should have spotted and questioned by the referees. If not, the right way is to send a letter to the editor (that contains the question) who in turn forwards it to the authors for response (what we call corrigendum or erratum).
    # am Says:
    February 9, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Accusations,

    It would better to scientifically commented on the article rather than accusations with plagiarism. What is the problem if the authors gave their own opinion at the end of their review as a future prospective, which might be correct or incorrect. Through research and technology, we can reach to the fact about hypothesis (for instant, cancer stem cell)

    I can’t help but notice that your comments, like Han’s email to PZ Myers, completely avoid the central issues–plagiarism and completely unwarranted conclusions. Sorry, Am, but when one is caught plagiarizing, “Please play nice” is not a proper response. And neither are red herrings about cancer stem cells. I really get the feeling that you and Han are trying to downplay this issue in the hopes it will go away. But it is utterly unreasonable for you to label people’s comments as “propaganda”, and such defensive tactics just make those of us following the issue even more suspicious. Pointing out plagiarism is not “propaganda”. Plagiarism is a serious offense, and it is understandable that people get upset over it.

  10. The comment of Jay Clayton (I deleted it accidentally, sorry about that): Comment:
    The Journal has now officially retracted the paper. The plagiarism charge is accepted as true on-the-record. Chron Higher Ed has the story. I’m in awe of the scientific blogosphere ferreting this out. You guys are amazing.

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