Update on: On Arrogating Intellectual Property

Further Update 30 October 2014 below.

Some time ago, I have come across a case of plagiarism by former colleague, Alexandrina Dumitrescu, in her last of a series of five books which she had written during an extremely short period of just three years while having been employed by IKO at Tromsø University. Before the book was even published, a version on GoogleBooks was available and I proved, in a case study, that virtually all in a certain chapter on statistical modeling had been copied and pasted from original papers, many of them authored by me. That strangely included even extended paragraphs of results sections. The case study can be found here.

I had informed the publisher Springer about my findings in this case and had argued that it may just be the tip of the tip of an iceberg since the former colleague had produced with the same publisher all in all five books on various topics in Periodontology. I had asked the copy editor whether this particular book had been peer reviewed but never received a respective answer. (In fact, I had incidentally talked to a colleague who had actually reviewed one of the books and had strongly recommended a co-author.) What I did receive, a few weeks after I had informed and, apparently, alerted the publisher, was an email stating that Springer had decided that, due to copyright violations, the book would be retracted.

In the meantime, I had noted that Springer had abandoned his author, altogether with her books. On Springer’s web page, none of the five books can be found anymore. It therefore might be presumed that all five had been retracted.  The publisher seems to have done that in secret. Plagiarism is a serious offense in the scientific community and has recently had even legal consequences in France as the renowned website retractionwatch knows. Scientific misconduct of that dimension has certainly caused tremendous trouble and expenses for a global player like Springer which had to pulp all five books. That furthermore inevitably affects Springer’s reputation while the author’s reputation is completely ruined. Moreover, the requested, by the publisher, co-authors, almost all from Japan, won’t be amused either. That the founding institute leader at IKO had employed her and tolerated her scientific misconduct for years speaks volumes too.

16 January 2014 @ 6:29 pm.

Update 30 October 2014.

I had wondered whether all five books written by Dr. Dumitrescu and published by Springer Publishing during the period of 2009 and 2012 had clandestinely been retracted (well, the last and final book on Understanding Periodontal Research, which contained massive plagiarism in a chapter on multilevel modeling by mainly copying and pasting entire paragraphs including results sections of my own published papers, had never made it to book sellers upon my complaint to Springer). In particular, since the University of Bergen had asked me in September whether I could join an evaluation committee for applicants for a Professor/associate professor position in the dental school. (Of course I immediately declined after having been informed about Dr. Dumitrescu’s application).

Yesterday, I received a response by Springer’ Publishing Development department after my last month’s specific inquiry about proceedings the case. It clarifies,

“We herewith confirm that the 5 titles edited by A. Dumitrescu have been set to ‘not available’ and are therefore not accessible on our marketing platform Springer.com and our online content platform SpringerLink for purchase and/or access due to breach of ethical standards. This was established after a thorough internal investigation last year.” (My emphasis.)

So, Springer did not offically retract the books but turned them into pulp because of “breach of ethical standards [… which] was established after a thorough internal investigation.” One has only to envisage the enormous detriment to one of the leading scientific publishers which certainly does not want further harm by publicly admitting of having overlooked blunt plagiarism not only in one book (I have always held that what I had detected in a certain chapter of a book on Understanding Periodontal Research might actually be the tip of the tip of an iceberg).

But that search and evaluation committees at a Norwegian University may actually be fooled by a face-saving (for Springer) uneasy compromise is certainly  alarming. I’m quite confident that truth will sooner or later prevail, though.

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