A professor in the Faculty of Medicine has been accused of self-plagiarism, prompting a retraction of a 2005 paper published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.
Stephen Matthews’ alleged transgressions were described as “a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system.”
The retraction was flagged by Retraction Watch, a blog documenting retractions in the life-sciences field. The blog claims the paper has been cited over 100 times, citing Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
“The scientific community takes a very strong view on this matter and apologies are offered to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process,” read a notice posted by Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.
Lloyd Rang, executive director of communications at the Faculty of Medicine, said in a Vancouver Sun article that the case was a “copyright squabble over a paper that was always intended as ‘review,’”
Rang also told the Sun that “under the strictest definition of copyright it had to be original, but there are only so many ways to describe the research landscape.”
Matthews, who declined to comment, collaborated with then-graduate student Dawn Owen and research associate Marcus Andrews on the paper, which focused on the effects of glucocorticoids, a drug commonly given to pregnant women at risk of early delivery.
Matthews’ has received more than $18 million in funding for his research from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), according to listings on the Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Neither CIHR and NSERC has commented on the story.
“We cannot comment on whether a matter is under review or what recourse, if any, an Agency takes with respect to a matter. said Susan Zimmerman, executive director of the secretariat, in an email to The Varsity. “The Secretariat does follow up with institutions on all allegations which come to its attention.”
Although it is unclear what, if any, action will be taken, Zimmerman says investigation will be handed over to U of T.
“The Framework [Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research] places the responsibility for investigating any allegations of breach of Agency policy with the researcher’s institution,” wrote Zimmerman.
According to the framework, which sets out responsibilities and policies for researchers, institutions, and the agencies, “redundant publications” is defined as the “re-publication of one’s own previously published work or part there of, or data … without adequate acknowledgement of the source, or justification.”