First, an early casualty of Deja Vu as reported in Nature: “A review article written by a rheumatologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, has been retracted after the journal, Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology, learned that more than half of the paper may have been plagiarized. The 2004 article, by Lee Simon (Best Pract. Res. Clin. Rheumatol. 18, 507–538; 2004), was manually checked after surfacing in an automated trawl through 7 million biomedical abstracts for possible plagiarism (see Nature 451, 397–399 ; 2008). The retraction was announced on 29 January. Harvard Medical School has formed a committee to review the matter but has not launched an official investigation, says spokesman David Cameron. Simon declined to comment, saying only: “I’m very sorry that I’ve been so targeted for something like a review article.””
This week’s Nature also includes a commentary on double-blind peer review of journal articles drawn from the Publishing Research Consortium survey results that “also highlight that 71% have confidence in double-blind peer review and that 56% prefer it to other forms of review. Support is highest with those who have experienced it (the humanities and social sciences) or where it is perceived to do the most good (among female authors). The least enthusiastic group is editors.”
Considering that so many manuscripts include referenced comments such as, “We previously showed …”, I have to wonder how blindable journal articles can be. Indeed, as Nature notes, “The editors at the Public Library of Science abandoned double-blind peer review because too few requested it and authors were too readily identified.”
Nature invites your comments on this commentary.