In the Name of Truth and Reconciliation: A Plagiarist’s Mea Culpa

Dr. John Adler, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Cureus: Speaking as a physician-scholar and an editor-in-chief, damn do I hate plagiarists! The entire idea of plagiarism sucks the life out of something that I believe to be almost sacred. Idealism aside, fraudulent behavior among authors is all too common, and maybe even rampant, within the world of scientific journals. To combat such fraud, Cureus, like most credible journals, has made it a formal policy to aggressively police plagiarism when we encounter it, as stated explicitly in our guidelines for authors’ section:

“Cureus pledges to rigorously enforce all standards, and promptly follow up on any transgressions. In extreme cases, this may call for article retraction and the reporting of individuals to their employer, institution or some appropriate body for further investigation.”

To date, Cureus’ policy appears to have ended the careers (sadly) of some young ambitious physicians; it is the aspiring younger academic who in my experience appears most tempted to cheat, especially given Cureus’ liberal willingness to publish credible science. In response to the cheaters, Cureus’ editorial team has always sought to be ruthlessly punitive, believing it to be the best defense against future plagiarism. Once exposed to the leadership of their medical institution, a plagiarist’s career tends to end in the quiet of the night, which unfortunately does little to communicate the seriousness of such cheating to others.

Therefore, I recently made a decision (for better or worse and somewhat capriciously I might add) to not report a plagiarist to his senior leadership. In the name of “truth and reconciliation” I instead demanded that the attempted-plagiarist explain their underlying motivations so as to serve as a warning to future authors who might be similarly tempted. That is the impetus for the below anonymous blog post. It is my hope and prayer that future potential plagiarists might read this post and come to their senses before very possibly destroying their own medical careers.

My decision for leniency under the current situation was done with great hesitancy. I can rightfully be criticized as undermining our journal’s clear warning to authors. Therefore, I wish for the record to say that as long as I am Editor-in-Chief of Cureus I intend to never ever repeat such leniency towards a fraudulent submission. Any author who might be tempted otherwise, consider yourself to be hereby forewarned.

Anonymous Cureus user: Most residents desire to do research and get published in a journal, for both the academic benefits and to develop one’s resume when applying for future fellowship training. Being such a young ambitious physician, but also having no significant experience in publishing research, I recently made the biggest mistake of my professional life, and this error has haunted me every day since.

A couple of months ago I decided to publish a case report on an interesting patient I had just seen in the clinic. I decided to submit the report to Cureus. As I began to write I realized my research writing skills were seriously wanting. By chance I found a similar case and heavily “borrowed” portions of text; my only focus was on getting my first publication and I turned a blind eye to the consequences of such actions. In fact, I hardly changed any words or sentences and simply submitted this report to Cureus thinking that in this particular case the objective was the same.

Why did I do it? Regretfully I now have only stupid explanations to fall back upon. Nevertheless, it is worth saying that in the country where I was raised, the topic of plagiarism is never discussed or seriously acknowledged. Plagiarism just isn’t such a big deal.

Soon after submitting my manuscript I received an email from Cureus’ editor who told me that I plagiarized and he sent me a link to the original source. I was humiliated, and even more so now very scared. By all rights the editor could and maybe should have reported me to my program director. If that were to happen, I realized that it could very well end my career in medicine. So many years of hard work was potentially destroyed by a single incredibly stupid decision! I pleaded and begged the editor for mercy, and the consequence of that plea is the confessional blog you are now reading.

Once again I ask myself why did I do such a stupid thing? Thinking back now I realize I had been blinded by ambition and was totally dishonest to myself. It disappoints me to know my poor decisions mostly reflect my greedy nature and a willingness to get ahead without hard work; I was largely jealous of my friends and colleagues who were publishing. Blinded by such emotions, I failed to ask myself how dangerous such actions would be for my character, my occupation, my career and my family. In hindsight, had I thought deeply about the potential consequences of my careless act, I would have never done it, and that mistake taught me a very tough lesson.

As a resident, I already knew that laziness can make the difference between the life or death of a patient. However I failed to consider that laziness towards publishing medical research is potentially even more dangerous, as it can put many other lives at risk. My actions can only be described as utterly immoral and unethical; my behavior is completely inexcusable. Although it is the ethical right and privilege of the editor to report me to my departmental chair and residency director, I am sincerely grateful for the career-saving opportunity I have been afforded. I am determined that this painful lesson will lead to my honest behavior in the future, as God is my witness.

Banned From Cureus: How To Avoid Hearing Those Dreaded Words

In the current political climate there is a lot of discussion these days about banning certain immigrant groups. As a point of principle, Cureus welcomes physicians of all races, nationalities, religions or gender and sexual identities to use our FREE publication platform.

Because we believe access to medical knowledge is a fundamental human right, Cureus aspires to break down all barriers to the freer dissemination of medical knowledge, especially for physician authors in developing countries. No matter who you are, if you have credible medical science you wish to publish conscientiously and in good faith, while following Cureus’ submission guidelines, our journal is committed to serving you.

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However, if you are a physician for whom publishing is merely a vanity project or a tool for professional advancement, with little regard for the integrity of the process, Cureus specifically does not want your content. If you are the type of individual who chooses to take shortcuts with the truth, who sees nothing wrong with plagiarism or scientific fraud, please stay away from Cureus.

You are hereby warned that if you are caught abusing our generous spirit, we will, to the best of our abilities, ultimately ban you AND your co-authors from further access to our journal AND when appropriate, (plagiarism and academic fraud) we will aggressively pursue academic censor from the offending individual’s parent academic or clinical institution.

Please be forewarned that our editorial team does not take lightly to authors that betray the truth or Cureus’ generosity. Our team has on a few past occasions, including very recently, needed to report serious infringements of our policies to the appropriate academic authorities. So ultimately the answer is yes, one can be BANNED from Cureus. Don’t be one of those people!

Cureus Peer Review Just Got a Heck of a Lot Easier

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our brand new, built-from-the-ground-up peer review tool! Any article submission started today will utilize the new system while in peer review.

Previously, we had used a third-party software tool called Crocodoc for article peer review. Our team has been hard at work creating our own proprietary system that makes reviewing an easier, more intuitive experience.

Similar to Google Docs or Microsoft Word, this new system enables reviewers to highlight text and leave comments. Each reviewer’s comments will be displayed via a unique highlighted color, while also allowing for overlapping comments.

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Adding a comment

Only articles created and submitted after the release will utilize this new system. All articles created before the release will still use our original peer review system. As such, please don’t be alarmed if your review experience changes from article to article!

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Viewing a comment

Between the peer review and submission systems, we have now overhauled the entire publishing process in the past five months. We’re confident that submitting and reviewing articles with Cureus is easier than it has ever been, but we won’t stop working to make your experience better. Stay tuned for more exciting updates as we continue to tweak and enhance the Cureus Journal of Medical Science. Thanks for your support!

– The Cureus Team

Questions about the new peer review system? Drop us a note at support@cureus.com and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

We Just Made Publishing Even Easier: Introducing the New Cureus Publishing System

After months of hard work, we’re very excited to introduce the brand new Cureus publishing system! Are you ready to submit your next (or your first) article to Cureus? Well, there’s no time like the present – the new publishing system is live right now.

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We’ve collected your feedback over the past few years and we’ve done our best to incorporate as many of your suggestions as possible. We’ll continue to iterate over the coming months, so if you have any more suggestions or complaints, don’t be afraid to let us know!

It’s important to note that this change will only affect drafts started on or after Tuesday, September 6th, 2016 – any drafts started before today will utilize the existing submission system.

  • Tackle your article submission with a new, easy-to-follow, step-by-step process
  • Select from available channels and competitions via new branded icons and dedicated channel and competition pages
  • Curate and insert figures, tables and video from your media library
  • Preview your article draft at any time during the submission process

For more information, we encourage you to check out our Author Guide, which has been updated with brand new guidelines and instructions.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns when submitting your work to Cureus, please drop us a note at support@cureus.com.

Announcing the Winners of the Investigational Cardiac Radiosurgery Publishing Competition!

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The SIQ scoring period has ended and the scores have been tabulated. Without further ado, the winning article is…

‘Cost-Effectiveness of Cardiac Radiosurgery for Atrial Fibrillation: Implications for Reducing Health Care Morbidity, Utilization, and Costs’ by Nikhilesh Bhatt, Mintu Turakhia and Thomas J. Fogarty (7.17 SIQ)

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the Cureus community for their efforts in reading and scoring competition articles over the past few months. Without you, this competition would not be possible.

And remember – even though the competition is over, you can still access and score all of the articles. Thanks for your support!

– Cureus and CyberHeart

Frameless Stereotactic Radiosurgery: Winning Articles Announced!

Eighteen published articles. More than 300 SIQ scorings. Over 10,500 views. And now, three winning articles!

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Congratulations are in order for the following authors – as their articles

  1. 1st place: ‘3D-Printing of Arteriovenous Malformations for Radiosurgical Treatment: Pushing Anatomy Understanding to Real Boundaries’ by Conti, Pontoriero, Lati, Marino, La Torre, Vinci, Germano, Pergolizzi and Tomasello
  2. 2nd place: ‘Prognostic Value of MR Imaging Texture Analysis in Brain Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Oligo-Metastases Undergoing Stereotactic Irradiation’ by Nardone, Tini, Biondi, Sebaste, Vanzi, De Otto, Rubino, Carfagno, Battaglia, Pastina, Cerase, Mazzoni, Buonamici and Pirtoli
  3. 3rd place: ‘Robotic Radiosurgery for the Treatment of Intramedullary Spinal Cord Metastases: A Case Report and Literature Review’ by Garcia, Sallabanda, Santa-Olalla, Guerra, Aviles, Sallabanda, Rivin and Samblas

In addition to the winning articles listed above, the competition has produced 15 more high-quality articles from around the world, all of which are available free of charge on the competition page.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the Cureus community for their efforts in reading and scoring competition articles over the past few months. Without you, this competition would not be possible.

And remember – even though the competition is over, you can still access and score all of the articles. Thanks for your support!

– Cureus and Accuray

Exceptional Responders in Oncology: Winning Case Report Announced!

51 published case reports. More than 1,200 SIQ scorings. Over 12,000 views. Only 1 winner.

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Congratulations to Mark ZakiPam LaszewskiNatasha RobinetteHusain SalehNaweed RazaAmmar Sukari & Harold Kim! Their case report, entitled ‘Unresectable Extraskeletal Myxoid Chondrosarcoma of the Neck: Early Tumor Response to Chemoradiotherapy,’ received the highest SIQ score, with an 8.2 (which has since risen to a stellar 8.5).

In addition to the winning article, we received dozens of high-quality case reports from around the world, all of which are now published and available free of charge.

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the Cureus community for their efforts in reading and scoring dozens of case reports over the past few months. Without you, this competition would not be possible – you’ve helped shine a spotlight on dozens of interesting cases of exceptional responders in oncology.

And remember – even though the competition is over, you can still access and score any of the 51 case reports. Stay tuned for news about our next competition – launching soon!