Accounting journal editors and publications committees continue to be somewhat befuddled by the new world order where authors have such strong incentives to publish that they are pushing and at times exceeding the bounds of what is acceptable academically and ethically.
COPE – the Committee on Publication Ethics does a wonderful job (my words not theirs) in attempting to help editors and publications committees make the often difficult judgments about the various “shades of grey” that exist in this realm. They have published very clear guidance on what constitutes the grounds for retraction, issuance of a Note of Concern and of Corrections. They also have a new memo on what to do about using the sets of words in related papers (e.g., “self plagiarism”). They make it very clear that the seriousness of “self-plagiarism” offense gets stronger the further one moves from the methods section and the closer one gets to reporting the same results from the same empirical work in the results section – i.e. publication of the same results twice. In other words, in the methods section it is silly to get too upset about using the same words to describe the same method – indeed as they observe using different words to describe the same method may lead to more inaccuracy rather than less. Further, it is very clear that publishing the same results in different papers is a clear violation of publication ethics and cannot be tolerated by the community and should result in severe sanctions.
Over the next several posts I am going to examine a current controversy from the view of an outsider who is an in-depth expert in the research substance but knows nothing of the behind the scenes drama. What I am going to get to eventually is an assessment of what is the point of the “retraction, concern and correction” RCC process and what it is not.