Dartmouth finds article is plagiarized, but NEJM refuses to retract it

The New England Journal of Medicine continues to refuse to retract an article after its lead author was accused of plagiarism and resigned amid an internal investigation, according to STAT. On Sept. 13, H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH, stepped down as a professor with the Dartmouth Institute in Lebanon, New Hampshire, after the university found he plagiarized two colleagues in a paper published in NEJM in 2016.

Samir Soneji, with Dartmouth, and Hiram Beltran-Sanchez, who claim Welch improperly used their research in the NEJM paper, claim the journal is “violating accepted practices of scientific research and eroding the scientific process.”

The NEJM, meanwhile, describe the situation as a disagreement between authors that should be settled on their own. Soneji asked the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) to weigh in on the issue, and the organization contacted the NEJM arguing the paper should be withdrawn.

“The communication from COPE does not change our decision, and our view matches that of the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, which determined that the case represents an authorship dispute,” NEJM spokesperson Jennifer Zeis told STAT and Retraction Watch.

All the while, Welch has repeatedly denied any charges of improper conduct.

“I am saddened to say that I am resigning from Dartmouth,” Welch wrote in an email to colleagues. “I feel that I can no longer participate in the research misconduct process against me—as I fear my participation only serves to validate it."