The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing

The Poehlman case: understanding and indexing ethical problems in scientific journals

The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing (2011), 29, (4), 179–184.

Abstract

Ethical problems in scientific publishing lead to complex issues for indexers. It is important for indexers of both scientific journals and literature databases to understand ethical problems and the ‘cascade’ of publications that can result. Common problems involve authorship issues, duplicate publication (also called ‘self-plagiarism’ or ‘redundant publication’), plagiarism and scientific misconduct. These can lead to corrections (in minor cases), expressions of concern (while an investigation is under way) and eventually retraction (‘unpublishing’ the article). An example is provided of an article containing falsified and fabricated data, published in Annals of Internal Medicine in 1995. The discovery of data fabrication led to several linked publications, including a retraction, a letter from the author, an editor’s note, an editorial and letters to the editor. The MEDLINE indexing of these publications is provided, showing how they were linked to each other. In such complex cases involving many publications over several years, finding all associated publications and making a diagram can help in indexing all items comprehensively, making clear their interrelationship.

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Author details

Brown, Carolyn