Rogue Editors at a Psychiatry Journal?

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticMar 29, 2016 6:12 PM


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A group of Indian psychiatrists have raised concern over suspicious similarities between three papers published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine (IJPM). Their allegations have just been published, also in the same journal. The authors, Girish Banwari and colleagues, focus on a 2015 paper about the use of the drug modafinil in treating schizophrenia. Banwari et al. say that this article

Contains no data at all and that only one reference was cited in the bibliography. A little further investigation revealed that the paper bears striking similarities to two earlier publications[one from 2008, one from 2014] in the same journal. In fact, the present paper[1] appears to have been extracted almost verbatim from the original publication[2] with all references to the metabolic effects of atypical antipsychotics, and the effect of modafinil on weight removed for the creation of the present paper.[1] There is also extensive verbatim content overlap among the three papers.[1, 2, 3] Finally, all three papers describe the same study with only minor changes in outcome measures. In other words, the publication of these three papers constitutes duplicate publication, self-plagiarism, and salami publication, all of which violate publication ethics.

Something is definitely wrong here: the overlap in content between these papers is extreme. For instance, Turnitin find that 88% of the text of the 2015 paper is identical to the 2008 paper. Meanwhile the 2014 paper has 59% overlap with the predecessor.

The methods, results and conclusions are the same in each case so this is not mere self plagiarism, it appears to be duplicate (or rather triplicate) publication. Banwari et al. call this a case of 'salami publication', i.e. cutting up your study into small pieces and publishing them separately. But given the textual overlap, I'd say this is really a case of selling the very same salami three times. How did this happen? The 2008 paper has four authors. Of these, one of them, T.P. Sudhakar, is a member of the Editorial Board of the IJPM. Another, G. Prasada Rao, is listed as a 'distinguished past editor' of the journal. The 2014 version has the same four authors but in a different order, and the newest 2015 paper is signed by Prasuna and Sudhakar. Could this be a case of 'rogue editors' abusing their position and publishing dubious quality material in their own journal? On the other hand, the IJPM do at least deserve credit for publishing Banwari et al.'s letter.

Banwari G, Karia S, Avudaiappan S, Tharayil HM, & Andrade C (2016). Modafinil Augmentation of Atypical Antipsychotic Agents: Duplicate Publication, Self-plagiarism, Salami Publication, and Other Matters. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 38 (1), 86-7 PMID: 27011415

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