A couple of months ago, I became aware of an organization called Publication Integrity and Ethics (PIE). In three posts (1,2,3) I explored some interesting facts about this group, and about a related organization, Open Access Publishing London (OAPL). PIE say that their mission is to "promote and maintain a better and a healthier publishing environment through a new set of ethical rules and guidelines". OAPL, who manage some 50 academic journals, say that they were "the first global publishing house to adopt the PIE Guidelines." ...They are also the only global publishing house whose Director is a relative of PIE's Director. Now, the PIE Guidelines are very clear on the issue of 'duplicate publication':
A duplicate publication refers to articles that significantly reproduce content from a previously published article without reference or permission... Mistaken duplication can occur when a document is submitted to multiple publications, which constitutes an unethical action... Research should only be submitted once and any reference should be cited in full...
So I was astonished when I became aware that OAPL recently published an article which seems to me to match that definition of 'duplicate publication' to a tee. Behold:
Here's OAPL's article, published in their OA Cancer, in January 2014: The Role of Biological Agents in Immunotherapy by Imran H. Abdulkareem. Now compare this to one published in the journal Metabolomics: Open Access nine months ago, in May 2013: The Role of Biological Agents in Immunotherapy, by Imran H. Abdulkareem. Besides small differences in the abstract, and the addition of 77 words in the intro, I could find no difference in the text of these 'two' papers. The later, OAPL paper, does not seem to reference the first one at all. Now, this is just not on. That's not just my view, mind, but also PIE's (we are told). And OAPL have their own page dedicated to warning authors about duplicate publication. This page promises that those who commit the act, or similar offenses, will be dealt with severely:
Sanctions for plagiarism, duplicate publication and citation manipulation may include: - Immediate rejection of the manuscript. - Immediate rejection of every other manuscript submitted to any journal published by OA Publishing London by any of the authors of the manuscript. - Prohibition against all of the authors for any new submissions to any journal published either individually or in combination with other authors of the manuscript, as well as in combination with any other authors. The prohibition shall continue for two years from notice of suspension. - Prohibition against all of the authors from serving on the Editorial Board of any journal published by OA Publishing London. - In the event that there are documented violations of these policies in any journal, regardless of whether or not the violations occurred in a journal published by OA Publishing London, the above sanctions will be applied. - In cases where the violations of the above policies are found to be particularly severe, OA Publishing London reserves the right to impose additional sanctions beyond those described above.
Tough talk, that leaves no confusion as to what offenders can expect. But I admit that I did feel confusion - or deja vu perhaps - when I compared OAPL's text to this text from the website of Hindawi Publishing, another (slightly older) OA publisher...
Sanctions: In the event that there are documented violations of any of the above mentioned policies in any journal, regardless of whether or not the violations occurred in a journal published by Hindawi, the following sanctions will be applied: - Immediate rejection of the infringing manuscript. - Immediate rejection of every other manuscript submitted to any journal published by Hindawi by any of the authors of the infringing manuscript. - Prohibition against all of the authors for any new submissions to any journal published by Hindawi, either individually or in combination with other authors of the infringing manuscript, as well as in combination with any other authors. This prohibition will be imposed for a minimum of 36 months. - Prohibition against all of the authors from serving on the Editorial Board of any journal published by Hindawi. - In cases where the violations of the above policies are found to be particularly egregious, the publisher reserves the right to impose additional sanctions beyond those described above.
OAPL do not seem to reference Hindawi. Does anyone know if there any guidelines about this kind of thing? UPDATE 26/2/14: This post went up on 18th February. On the 22nd, I emailed OA Cancer regarding the duplication. I received no reply, but as of this afternoon, the abstract of the Abdulkareem paper has been replaced by a blank page. However, the PDF is still available. On OAPL's home page, only an empty shell remains:
UPDATE 27/2/14: And it's gone - almost. All mention of the paper seems to have gone from OAPL's site and from OA Cancer, as if it had never existed. The old URL to the PDF still works but no pages link to it.