Journal to Retract Paper by Controversial South Korean Scientist

April 29, 2007

Editors of the journal Fertility and Sterility plan to retract an article by a controversial South Korean scientist, Kwang Yul Cha, whose previous work includes co-authorship of a study concluding that praying for a woman attempting in vitro fertilization doubles her chances of getting pregnant. But no other punishment will be levied against Dr. Cha in the incident, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A colleague had accused Dr. Cha of plagiarizing the article — this one about detecting women who are at risk of premature menopause — which was published in Fertility and Sterility in December 2005. But the journal’s editors are not citing plagiarism as a reason for the retraction. Instead, they said, the journal would retract the piece because it had been previously published elsewhere, noting that such duplicate publication is against the journal’s rules, according to the Times.

Alan DeCherney, editor of Fertility and Sterility and director of the reproductive biology and medicine branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, told The Chronicle in February that the paper was a clear case of plagiarism, reproducing a previously published paper by Jeong Hwan Kim, then a South Korean doctoral student at Korea University. But in the end, plagiarism was ruled out because two of the authors on Dr. Cha’s paper were also authors of the previous paper. An associate of Dr. Cha’s in South Korea took responsibility for having the paper published twice, a spokesman for the journal said. —Jeffrey R. Young