PGIMER doc in the dock for plagiarism

Institute initiates inquiry after international journal retracts ophthalmologist’s article for using ‘lifted’ image
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Updated on Dec 30, 2019 12:41 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | ByAmanjeet Singh Salyal, Chandigarh

The Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research has initiated an inquiry after a noted medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), retracted an article authored by an ophthalmologist at the Advanced Eye Centre of the institute.

The image of a damaged eye was presented along with clinical details in the article published in the December 5 issue of the journal. It was found to be “lifted” from another reputed journal published in December 2015.

“The image/work was submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr Jitender Jinagal, while he was working at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, Chandigarh. It is his own work. PGIMER has nothing to do with it,” stated a response from the public relations office of the PGIMER, while confirming that an inquiry has been initiated as he is now working with the institute.

Meanwhile, in his response to Hindustan Times, Dr Jinagal admitted the “mistake”, while adding that “as a young researcher, it is a learning lesson for me”.

WHAT WAS THE CASE

Dr Jinagal, who is now an assistant professor at the PGIMER, had written about a case of retinal haemorrhage from blunt ocular trauma.

The case pertained to a 24-year-old man, who got admitted to the GMCH emergency department with pain, swelling, and decreased vision in his right eye after it had been struck by a tennis ball.

On December 23, the article was retracted by the journal after it was found that the image associated with the clinical details was not original.

In an email response to Hindustan Times, NEJM said the image was originally published on one of the covers of ‘Ophthalmology’, a journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in December 2015. The journal said that the parent institute has been informed about the author’s conduct.

“Plagiarism is scientific misconduct according to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and we have retracted the article,” said the journal.

HOW IT CAME TO FORE

Dr Rajesh Rao, of the Kellogg Eye Centre at the University of Michigan, was the one to raise a flag. He wrote to NEJM that the picture presented in the study had been plagiarised and originally belongs to Mark Clark of Wake Forest University. Rao is also the retinal social media editor for the American Academy of Ophthalmology journals.

In the letter to NEJM, which was posted by Dr Rao on his Twitter handle, he wrote that the image was copied exactly from his Instagram post in March, with identical cropping and image filter, and thus the cause of injury, details of the ocular examination, surgical management, and post-operative course are spurious.

WHAT PGIMER, DOC SAY

Meanwhile, the PGIMER has issued a letter to Dr Jinagal, asking him to explain his conduct. A committee, comprising Prof A Rajwanshi (dean, academics) as the chairman and Prof Baljinder Singh as its member, has been constituted, said the institute.

The committee has been asked to submit its report in two weeks, and accordingly, action will be taken against Dr Jinagal, as per the guidelines on plagiarism set by the institute’s governing body.

Dr Janagal in his response to Hindustan Times said that clinical images are being taken by optometrists/ technicians across the country, and he relied on the data provided to him by his co-author.

“My mistake was that I was a little more complacent and overconfident. I should have supervised it more carefully,” he said, while adding that he has more than 30 publications and clinical images in journals of international repute, including NEJM.

“As soon as I got to know about the mistake, I immediately retracted it and as a young researcher, it is a learning lesson for me,” he said.

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