REC Ethics casuistry |

# July 21st, 2020 | Authorship issues case – ghost writing & ghost-authorship |

On the 21st of July 2020, an author whose article was in the editorial process for publication in our journal sent an email both to our editorial office as well as to one of his co-authors to complain about the fact his paper was not published earlier, as he had been informed by one of his colleagues.  

The email was sent in another language than English. After translation, we understood that the author asked for clarifications from his colleague (the first author of the paper sent to our journal) on when the article will be published. The author who claimed for clarifications has detailed in the email sent to us that the paper was sent to another co-author of the paper (3rd co-author) in order to be published in our journal. It seems that the 3rd co-author received the paper in October 31st, 2019. The article was submitted to our journal in March 2020.

The following information was deduced from the email of the author who made the claim:

-      the claimant brought into discussion the fact that he paid his colleague (the 3rd author) for publication in our journal. The payment request was not issued by us, the payment proof sent to us is dated with October 31st, 2019.

-      the claimant acknowledges to us and to his colleague that he “persuaded two more people to co-sponsor such contributions”

-      the claimant informs us about the fact he and other authors of the same paper were informed by the colleague to which he made the payment that the paper will be published in March 2020.

Our current position on the case | 

This information leads us to the understanding of possible ghost-writing and ghost authorship; we consider that the article sent to us has ghost authors and the authorship is made up of persons whose scientific contribution is not inserted in the article, as the claimant author refers to adding co-sponsors of the article in order to pay for the publication fee.

Also, the article was authored by a research team which partially authored more than 9 papers submitted to evaluation in our journal. Two of the contributors to the paper repetitively submitted papers to our journal that were published or scheduled to be published in the journal. 

Our journal policy does not accept the publication of more than 4 articles of the same author/year, or of more than 2 papers of the same author in the same issue. The authors in question were informed of this policy, but continued to contribute to other co-authored articles and other teams of researchers.
In this case, we find that it may be ghost-writing in the case of at least this article, and potentially in the case of other articles authored at least partially by the same research team.

We will begin an investigation into this issue, including reaching out to the researchers' institutions of affiliation.
If our investigation proves academic fraud, articles will be completely blocked from publication, and articles already published proven to be fraudulent will be retracted.
For the time being, the editorial process has been suspended for the articles under investigation, until the investigative procedure is completed.
We asked all the authors of this article to express their point of view regarding the potential suspicion of ghost- authorship and ghost-writing that seems to be deduced from the email sent by the claimant author.

[...] text written by Ana Frunza | CASE CLOSED. No further actions will be taken at this time. 


# June 10th, 2020 | Authorship issues case - notification received about wrongly quoted source in one of our journal's articles |

On 10.06.2020 an external author whose article published in 2019, has been quoted by authors of our journal in an article published in 2020, noticed us that his article was wrongly cited, both in the content of the text, as in the references chapter.

The wrong citation mentioned by the author, consisted in adding a second author to the article that was solely authored by him. The author whose work was wrongly quoted mentioned in his address to our publishing house that the error could have been occurred due to the error of the external journal editor who has mentioned his name next to the author's name - a misleading information from the journal, which from the author's understanding was already corrected on the website. 

The author requested our publishing house and editorial team to correct the wrong citations and avoid further misunderstanding and confusion, by updating the citations.

Our current position on the case | 

We have no sufficient information to analyse this situation, therefore we requested an official position from both the Editor in Chief of the journal where the article of the author who noticed us was published, as from the authors of the article published in RREM journal. 

If there was an error on the website of the external journal, for transparency and respecting the ethics of publication, the error must have been corrected publicly, the publishers of the journal must have mentioned the error occurred and revised it by mentioning the revision publicly made on the website. We couldn't identify any comment on the website related to an initial formatting or error in the article from the external journal. When and how was the revision signalled on the website?  Is it an error of quotation or a new type of displaying or quoting the articles? An official letter will be sent to the Editor in Chief of the External Journal.

The citation on the website looks like this now:  "Name of the author | name of the editor (Reviewing editor) (2019) title of the paper, name of the journal, volume: issue, DOI"

Our journal (RREM) uses APA Style 7 guidelines and we couldn't identify such a formatting which includes the reviewing editor in the quotation.   

How did the citation look like at the time the authors of our journal (2020) quoted the article? Could the authors that quoted the paper clearly specify this aspect?

The answers will be analysed by our Ethics of Publication Committee and will be subjected to COPE (Committee of Publication Ethics) so they can give us feedback on how this kind of situation must be analysed.  

We informed the involved parties that in this section of the journal we will open an ethics case, using anonymized information, and describe this case. It is our duty as COPE members to make this case publicly available, without using identification data of the authors or article. 

For the moment the publishing house is waiting for each party's official position by email.

No modification will be made on the article until we reach a decision considering the points of view of the External Journal Editor in Chief, the Authors of RREM journal and the COPE representatives. 

[...] text written by Ana Frunza | CASE CLOSED. Correction made on the article webpage and PDF. No further actions will be taken at this time. 

# May 15th, 2020 | Possible ethics infringements:  self-plagiarism & ghost-writing

Case | On May 15th, a reviewer signalled us a possible self-plagiarism and ghost-writing situation.  An article has been sent to the reviewer for evaluation. While evaluating it, the reviewer identified the abstract and part of the article in other public online sources, in identical format, but in another language than English. The reviewer provided the editor in charge with the links to the original sources of the article's abstract. The reviewer also indicated that the phraseology of the text from the source he identified as the original source (in Russian language) is identical with the article which has been sent to our journal for evaluation (in English language). The content of the page where the link provided by the reviewer led, was a dissertation thesis, whose author was the first author of the article submitted to our journal for evaluation. The article sent to us and evaluated by our reviewer was authored by 7 authors (the author of the dissertation thesis + other 6 different researchers).

The editor requested by email to all authors of the article to give feedback on the identified situation, but no reply was received.

The editor also informed the authors about the paper rejection in case of no answer received from them.

Decision | July, 9th, 2020

In lack of any feedback from the authors, the article has been rejected from publication. The authors have been informed about the rejection and about the possible future interdiction of submitting new articles to our journals in case of repeated unethical behaviour in the future.

We considered it imperative that all authors in the authorship of the submitted article to be informed about the ethics infringement they made by using data already published by other authors, proposing a research paper for evaluation even when they knew that the article had already been published by the first author.

The article will be rejected from publication and withdrawn from any peer review process (the reviewers already assigned will be informed about the article withdrawal and the review request will be cancelled).

[...] text written by Ana Frunza | CASE CLOSED. No further actions will be taken at this time. 

May 04, 2020

A possible infringement of publication ethics regarding duplicate content was addressed by the Ethics Committee of Lumen Publishing House. Two articles were submitted for review in two different journals published by Lumen, one of these journals being Revista Romaneasca pentru Educatie Multidimensionala. The authorship was the same, the tiles of the articles were different, but the content of the two articles was mostly similar. 

Decision | Authors were contacted by the editors of both journals and were asked to provide explanations regarding a possible ethics infringement (duplicate content). The authors were given ample time to answer, but in a period of two months, none of the authors provided any explanation, therefore both articles were rejected from publication by both journals.

We mention that the Journal is a COPE member and adheres to the ethical principles of this organization

The Ethics Committee of LUMEN Publishing House 

[...] text written by Alexandra Huidu | CASE CLOSED. No further actions will be taken at this time. 


# March 4th, 2020 - Plagiarism and self- plagiarism case | 

Case | A research article was submitted to our journal in order to be evaluated for publication.

The article has been scanned with a plagiarism detection software and resulted in a 51% similar content with other sources online. The highest percent of similarity is 46% (of 51%) which resulted in the already published paper authored by different authors, but with the same title as the article already published in our journal, into a previous issue. Some authors of the already published article were the same as some authors of the new submitted article.

We considered this particular situation requests an Ethics Committee evaluation as it may be considered an infringement of publication and research ethics - plagiarism, self-plagiarism and research ethics infringement.

A clarification has been asked to the corresponding author. In the author response to our request the following has been emphasized: the article meant to be a follow- up (second part of the initial research) of the first article published, whose scope was to bring new knowledge on the field; the authors used the theoretical grounding of the already published research to ground the second part of the research, to better emphasize the research necessity. 

The author didn't mention anything about the self- awareness of the plagiarism, self – plagiarism or any research ethics infringement. After the case analysis, The Research Ethics Committee and Publication Ethics of LUMEN Publishing House considers this situation as not being justified from the point of view of the research ethics and publication ethics.

Decision | March 9th, 2020  

We consider imperative that all authors in the authorship of newly submitted article to be informed about the ethics infringement they made by using data already published by other authors, proposing a research paper to evaluation even they know the article has been already published by a group of researchers together with the first author of their article. 
The article is rejected from publication, being withdrawn from any evaluation process (the reviewers already assigned will be informed about the article withdrawing and the review request will be cancelled)


 [...] text written by Ana Frunza | CASE CLOSED. No further actions will be taken at this time. 

# September 25th, 2018 - Complaint brought in the attention of REC of LUMEN Publishing House, regarding a possible falsification of citations

 To the attention of the ethics committee of LUMEN Publishing House, a complaint was made regarding a possible falsification of citations. The Ethics Committee takes this accusation very seriously and will investigate it in depth.

In essence, the author of the complaint states that some cited works have been quoted in articles published in the journal Revista Romaneasca pentru Educatie Multidimensionala, in articles that appear to have nothing to do with the themes of the cited articles. Falsifying citations is a serious charge and we will investigate it properly, starting the investigations on the presumption of innocence.

LUMEN Publishing House considers that the authors are in good faith and this presumption can only be overturned by solid evidence. Both parties were asked to clarify their position on the complaint. At the time the complaint will be resolved, we will make the results known on the Journal's website.

We mention that the Revista Romaneasca pentru Educatie Multidimensionala Journal is a COPE member and adheres to the ethical principles of this organization

RESULTS (October 4th, 2018): 

On the case opened on September 25th 2018, The Ethics Committee of LUMEN Publishing House has reached the following decision: we consider the case closed, the allegation being unsupported.

The case can be re-opened at any given time, upon request from any of the parts involved. 

No further actions will be taken at this time.