Space dinosaurs, the saga continues

Last week I , and several others , wrote about the extraordinary and unfounded conclusions published in a JACS perspective, that dinosaurs may have evolved into intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

Well it gets worse, because as Stuart Cantrill (editor of Nature Chemistry) pointed out on twitter (@stuartcantrill), this isn’t the first time Prof Breslow has made these claims. Nor in fact is it the first time he’s published this article. It also appeared in the Israel Journal of Chemistry last year. Huge chunks of the JACS article are copied verbatium from the IJC review.

Here’s Stuart’s analysis of the JACS article, he’s highlighted the bits that appear in the IJC review. The subsequent pages are covered with just as much highlighter pen.

I wonder if JACS’s has a policy on self plagiarism?

EDIT: Here’s the self-plagiarised sections from the remainder of the paper.
It gets worse - pages 2, 3, 4 & 5 of #spacedino Perspecti... on Twitpic

It gets worse - pages 2, 3, 4 & 5 of #spacedino Perspecti... on Twitpic

UPDATE: Breslow defends himself to Nature

UPDATE 2: Here’s a copy of the email I sent to the JACS editors yesterday. If I hear anything back I’ll be sure to let you know.

Dear Editors,
I am sure you are aware of the controversy surrounding Prof. Breslow’s perspective article recently published in JACS ( http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja3012897). The concluding comments concerning, what has become known on twitter as, the spacedino story has been the subject of discussions on numerous blogs. E.g. http://www.chemistry-blog.com/ & http://blog.chembark.com/2012/04/12/breslow-and-dinosaurs-in-jacs-oh-my/

The consensus is that the spacedino comment was just a poor joke, however there is much more concern about the issue of self plagiarism. The majority of Prof. Breslow’s JACS article is copied verbatim from a review he published in Israel Journal of Chemistry ( http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijch.201100019/abstract) last May. The fact that it then appeared in JACS seems to run contrary to your ethical guidelines ( http://pubs.acs.org/userimages/ContentEditor/1218054468605/ethics.pdf) which state:

Authors should not engage in self-plagiarism (also known as duplicate publication) – unacceptably close replication of the author’s own previously published text or results without acknowledgement of the source. ACS applies a “reasonable person” standard when deciding whether a submission constitutes self-plagiarism/duplicate publication. If one or two identical sentences previously published by an author appear in a subsequent work by the same author, this is unlikely to be regarded as duplicate publication. Material quoted verbatim from the author’s previously published work must be placed in quotation marks. In contrast, it is unacceptable for an author to include significant verbatim or near-verbatim portions of his/her own work, or to depict his/her previously published results or methodology as new, without acknowledging the source.”

I write for http://www.chemistry-blog.com and I would very much like to share your comments on this issue with my readers. We are particularly keen to hear why Prof. Breslow appears to have been exempt from your ethical guidelines.

Yours Sincerely,

15 Comments

  1. My good friend @tevetorbes, of “The Internet,” informed me last week that ACS does, indeed, have such a policy: http://pubs.acs.org/page/policy/ethics/index.html

    From their site –

    “Authors should not engage in self-plagiarism (also known as duplicate publication) – unacceptably close replication of the author’s own previously published text or results without acknowledgement of the source. ACS applies a “reasonable person” standard when deciding whether a submission constitutes self-plagiarism/duplicate publication. If one or two identical sentences previously published by an author appear in a subsequent work by the same author, this is unlikely to be regarded as duplicate publication. Material quoted verbatim from the author’s previously published work must be placed in quotation marks. In contrast, it is unacceptable for an author to include significant verbatim or near-verbatim portions of his/her own work, or to depict his/her previously published results or methodology as new, without acknowledging the source. (Modeled with permission from Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics: Authorial Integrity in Scientific Publication http://www.siam.org/books/plagiarism.php)”

    • Yeah, I didn’t realize the part that was verbatim was larger than the part that was new material.

      It definitely seems unacceptable by the ACS’s own standards regarding self-plagiarism as outlined above.

    • It is a bit humorous that ACS copy/pasted plagiarism guidelines.

      • Ha! Starting after “ACS” in the second sentence, the text is verbatim from the cited source!

        Of course, at least they cited the source.

        The NEW question now is if I copy someone’s work verbatim, but then cite them, is it still plagiarism? (I think it is.)

  2. Self-plagiarizers shouldn’t issue press releases through ACS.

  3. I’ve emailed JACS to ask them why the Prof. Breslow was exempt for ACS’s ethical guidelines. I wonder if I’ll get a response.

    • I’m glad you did this and announced it. It eliminates the possibility of JACS claiming that they were never alerted to possible misconduct.

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  8. ACS Responds:

    UPDATE 26/04 – In a statement, the ACS says, “We are following established procedure to investigate the claim of self-plagiarism. If it is determined that this is case of self-plagiarism, appropriate action will be taken as provided for in our ethical guidelines.”

    From http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/04/eminent-chemist-denies-self-plagiarism-in-space-dinosaurs-paper.html

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