Figure. PIR Editorial Board members who met Oct. 21, 2016, at the AAP NCE included (from left): Drs. Rani Gereige, Peter Pizzutillo, Henry Adam, Philip Fischer, Deepak Kamat, Editor-in-chief Joseph A. Zenel, Mobeen Rathore, Andrew Sirotnak, Peter Belamarich, Jennifer Read, Janet Serwint, Miriam Weinstein, Mark Weems, Nupur Gupta, Susan Massengill, Thomas Havranek, Heather Campbell, Theresa Auld Bingemann, Steve Roach, Lynn Garfunkel, Carrie Phillipi, and Eyal Ben-Isaac. Not pictured are: Drs. Hugh D. Allen, Aamir Jeewa, Robert D. Baker, Stephen Dolgin, Gregory Hale, Jacob Hen Jr., Jeffrey Hord, Neal LeLeiko, Michael Macknin, and Sara Shea.At the 2016 annual Pediatrics in Review Editorial Board meeting in October, all members were excited about the January 2017 issue, reasons being the expansion from three to six “Index of Suspicion” cases, the increased inclusion of reviews that address gaps in medical knowledge not previously covered, and the return of free printed copies of the journal to all pediatric residents in the country.
However, with the same passion for the journal, board members intensely reacted to the significant number of manuscripts submitted to PIR this past year containing unacknowledged duplicated material, an occurrence in submissions rare in prior years.
When asked how best to respond to this matter, board members replied in many heartfelt ways. Discussion strings included the following questions:
•How serious is plagiarism?
•What are the “official” guidelines for medical journals to follow when plagiarism is identified?
•Do authors, especially authors in their early academic years, know what plagiarism is?
•Since PIR encourages pediatricians early in their scholarly career to submit reviews and cases under the mentorship of more senior authors, do we as members of the PIR Editorial Board show some compassion and advise authors on what plagiarism is versus pursuing the established professional protocol, which could ruin an author’s career?
The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) considers professionalism a significant part of training future pediatricians. In the book “Measuring Medical Professionalism,” author D.L. Stern wrote, “Professionalism is demonstrated through a foundation of clinical competence, communication skills, and ethical understanding, upon which is built the aspiration and wise application of professionalism: excellence, humanism, accountability and altruism.”1
As the board deliberated, a more experienced member asked, “If the issue at hand was the care of a patient, and the physician in charge that day charted a note that was falsified or copied or ‘cut-and-pasted’ from another note and the physician had not seen the patient that day, how would you respond?” The room became quiet. Ah yes, patient care. The ultimate reason we are compassionate and professional.
We cannot betray the trust between the patient and the physician and between the physician and fellow physicians. Plagiarism constitutes such a betrayal. Whether innocently or purposely performed, plagiarism is wrong.
The board in October concluded that each case of suspected plagiarism requires individual attention, keeping in mind that it is the patient who is eventually and fundamentally affected by plagiarism in a medical journal.
Further, the board unanimously endorsed the three commentaries at the start of this month’s journal, a departure from the usual single January commentary on the journal’s direction. They agreed that publishing the commentaries “Training to Teach, Teaching to Train,” “Plagiarism in Review,” and “Then What?” is an important step in responding to plagiarism.
1. Stern DT, ed. Measuring Medical Professionalism. New York, NY: Oxford Press: 2006.