In a strange sequence of events, UK publisher, Emerald, has reversed its plagiarism accusation of a Greek academic and is now referring to the events as simple “communication errors.”
According to Zoë Corbyn of the Times Higher Education, two papers published in the peer-reviewed journal, Managerial Finance, were removed from the Emerald website because they included several “substantial passages” of plagiarized text. Also removed was a notice that the journal would bar future submissions from the offending author.
The publisher’s reversal is believed to be the result of a legal threat over libel, according to the news report.
The author, Christos Negakis, is a associate professor of accounting and finance at the University of Macedonia in Greece. For one of the articles, Negakis served as the guest editor of the journal issue; for the other, a departmental colleague served as editor.
Negakis has been permitted to correct his work and have it republished in the journal. According to the report, the publisher views the matter as “closed.”
Emerald requires that manuscripts submitted must be original and not include instances of verbatim copying, unattributed paraphrasing, or re-using parts of a work without attribution.
According to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), of which Emerald is a member, publishers are encouraged to take action when confronted with evidence of author misconduct. When plagiarism is found in published work, COPE recommends publishing a retraction and contacting an author’s institution.
This is just what the publisher did, posting the following message on its website before having it removed:
Important Note: Plagiarism detected in following article
It is with deep concern and regret that Emerald Group Publishing has detected an instance of plagiarism on the article below. The article, “The cash flow statement: implications for the use of the direct or the indirect method”, by Christos J Negakis in Volume 32 Issue 8 (2006) of Managerial Finance, plagiarises the following two articles:
D. O’Bryan , K.T. Berry, C. Troutman and J. J. Quirin, “Using accounting equation analysis to teach the statement of cash flows in the first financial accounting course”, Journal of Accounting Education, Volume 18, pp. 147 – 155 (2000) doi:10.1016/S0748-5751(00)00010-5
Rai, “Reconciliation of net income to cash flow from operations: an accounting equation approach”, Journal of Accounting Education, Volume 21 pp. 17 – 24 (2003) doi:10.1016/S0748-5751(02)00032-5
Using manual checks and anti-plagiarism detecting software, Emerald found that substantial passages of these two articles have been used in the article without reference, and we have therefore decided to make this statement.
Please note that, as per our plagiarism policy, a note will also be placed in the next available issue of the journal and that the author’s superiors have been informed. Furthermore, Emerald Group Publishing will not accept any further submissions from this author.
While Emerald did attempt to follow COPE guidelines, it is somewhat disconcerting to see this publisher transform a serious academic misconduct into a simple error of understanding, as if academics need to be gently reminded that copy and paste publishing is unacceptable in scholarship.
In 2005, it was discovered that Emerald had engaged in systematic republishing of hundreds of its journal articles and maintained conflicts of interest between its business and editorial functions, both of which were also violations of COPE rules.
Which leads me to wonder, exactly what does COPE membership mean?