Professor Whose Article Was Retracted Resigns From Harvard Medical School

March 15, 2009

A Harvard Medical School professor who was accused of plagiarizing a substantial portion of a published article has resigned, The Harvard Crimson reported. The professor, Lee S. Simon, was only peripherally involved with the university, sources told the newspaper, though he maintained his title at the medical school and one of its affiliated hospitals.

The biomedical journal Best Practices & Research: Clinical Rheumatology retracted his article last year after a computer-based text-searching tool found similarities between his study and an earlier one by another scientist.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas who developed the text-searching tool, called eTBLAST, have twice called attention to findings of similarities that suggested plagiarism or double publishing. In a study they described in Nature in 2008, they examined 2,600 suspicious abstracts by hand and found 73 instances that appeared to be plagiarism.

This month, in a commentary in Science, the researchers discuss how authors and journal editors respond to reports of plagiarism. —Charles Huckabee