While I am pleased to see this public apology from the publisher, the retraction is still only based on “a substantial overlap of the content of this article with previously published articles in other journals”. That is a euphemism for “the authors copied four entire pages of text from sources that were not cited”. However, I am concerned that this apology – like the press release from Proteomics – ignores the central question: how did the manuscript make it through peer review?
I was a bit surprised to see an apology being published via PubMed, but a quick search revealed that Proteomics is far from the only journal to apologize to their readers in this way. In fact, a systematic count of the abstracts mentioning the words “apologise(s)” or “apologize(s)” has increased exponentially over the past decade (note the logarithmic scale):
The number shown for 2008 is an extrapolation based on the first six weeks; if the apologies keep coming at the current rate, there will be 32 by the end of the year. The line shows an exponential fit of the data points from 1999 to 2007. The doubling time for the number of apologies is just 3 years whereas the number of papers doubles only every 22 years. If these trends continue, there will be more apologies than papers published from the year 2067 and onwards. I apologize for the extrapolation.