Sunday, April 08, 2007

Harvard's Kim Responds on the Cha Matter

Following publication of the British Medical Journal item below, we queried one of those mentioned, Kwang-Soo Kim, whether he had anything further to say on the matter. He forwarded the following via Tony Knight of Sitrick and Company, a public relations firm.

"After learning about this incident, I was quite frustrated and concerned
with the situation and, thus, personally investigated the matter by carefully discussing the details with each of the authors of the paper. My conclusion is that this is a most unfortunate situation stemming from a disgruntled junior scientist's unprofessional conduct which appears to have been unnecessarily amplified by an all-too-eager reporter who was either misinformed or is not properly reporting all the facts of the case.

"However, we are hopeful that with the disclosure and consideration of all the facts involved, a fair outcome will result not only in the pending legal proceeding but also with Fertility and Sterility.

"As a fellow research scientist with more than 23 years of research experience in the U.S., as well as knowledge of the scientific community in Korea, I feel some background information may prove to be helpful and insightful regarding the dual- publication issue.

"I personally have very strong objections to this practice where the dual publication in a non-SCI Korean journal and an SCI journal were pursued. I do not know for certain how widespread this practice has been in recent years. But I am pleased that it was halted in 2006 with the publication of a new guideline by Korean scientific leaders.

"Given that the practice of publishing in both a non-SCI domestic journal and a SCI international journal was accepted by some in Korean, it is somewhat understandable that Dr. Lee followed this practice, although I think it was a terrible mistake. All the other authors were not even aware of the fact that this paper was previously published in a Korean journal and, thus, are innocent.

"We at Pochon CHA University believe the matter should be corrected, and Dr. Lee is planning to retract the first paper from the Korean journal. The paper's scientific integrity is without question and it should remain in F&S.

"Based on my conversations with all of the other authors, I believe that Dr. Kim's contribution was marginal compared to the research project in total. Authorship of a scientific paper is based less on who drafted the text than on who performed the scientific work and whose original idea and investigative thought went into the research. In particular, in this type of genetic studies, it is crucial how the samples are organized and collected, including both patient and control samples. Dr. Kim deserves authorship because of his partial but direct contribution, and Dr. Lee did credit him as an author in her submission of the manuscript to F&S.

"Needless to say, the data and results produced from a lab are attributable to the principal investigator and the rightful, proprietary property of the sponsoring institution. The fact of the matter is that Dr. Lee was the principal investigator and director of the lab and all of the resulting data was attributable to Dr. Lee and the rightful property of CHA Hospital. It is also a fact that Dr. Kim took this data without anyone's knowledge or proper permission which was a huge violation of trust with Dr. Lee, the other researchers and the entire organization, as well as a serious breach of company policy and that of the implicit rule regarding research data and intellectual property within every research lab. I believe this is why he did not leave any contact information and could not be reached."
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4 comments:

  1. There are at least two points in the Kim communication that bear scrutiny.

    #1. The text --Given that the practice of publishing in both a non-SCI domestic journal and a SCI international journal was accepted by some in Korean, it is somewhat understandable that Dr. Lee followed this practice, although I think it was a terrible mistake-- implies that the issue is one of custom and practice in Korea. However, the journal Fertility and Sterility REQUIRES a statement that the material has NOT been published before. The material that Lee submitted to Fertility and Sterility had been published before and Lee knew it. There is no defense to this breach. [As a side point, which is of relevance to the CIRM grant to the non-profit Cha entity, it is not clear that Lee disclosed to Fertility and Sterility the existence of a Korean patent application covering the material of the manuscript.]

    #2. Kim writes directly: Dr. Lee did credit him as an author in her submission of the manuscript to F&S. There seems to be disagreement about this fact, which should be readily resolvable by looking at the initial submission to Fertility and Sterility. One notes that being listed as an AUTHOR is not the same as being acknowledged. The author guidelines for Fertility and Sterility make a clear distinction between these two categories, so there is no excuse for confusing them.

    As a minor point, I believe Kwang-Soo Kim works for Cha, not for Harvard, at this point.

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  2. As an explanatory note to non-scientists, the letters "SCI" in the text a non-SCI domestic journal and a SCI international journal refer to Science Citation Index. The issue is that an article in a journal NOT indexed by SCI will generally get less exposure than the same article would get if published in a different journal that is indexed by SCI. There was much discussion of this issue ten years ago.

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  3. JeongHwan Kim9:40 AM

    Dear Readers,

    I’d like to comment briefly on a few points. Although most of the comments are unacceptable, I don’t feel the need to comment on what is related to currently on-going criminal lawsuit against Lee and Cha. For your information, the criminal investigation against KY Cha, which has been on hold, is believed to be resumed soon.

    He said, “Given that the practice of publishing in both a non-SCI domestic journal and a SCI international journal was accepted by some in Korean…”

    I understand Dr. Kim has been away for a long time and wonder when it was the last time he submitted an article to KSOG. I am sure such a practice is not accepted by anyone who is submitting a manuscript to KSOG.

    The Instruction for authors of KSOG clearly mentions (in Korean, though) that authors should state that the material contained in the manuscript has not been published, has not been submitted, or is not being submitted elsewhere for publication.

    Please do not disgrace Korean scientists based on your personal misconception.

    He also said, “All the other authors were not even aware of the fact that this paper was previously published in a Korean journal and, thus, are innocent.”

    It was indeed Dr. Lee who finally sent the manuscript to KSOG after amending authors and the statement of Korean Government Fund without my consent. And, yes, after putting her name as that of corresponding author which was myself in the original manuscript. Is consent to publish in KSOG still an issue?

    Thank you.

    JeongHwan Kim

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  4. JeongHwan Kim11:02 AM

    "In particular, in this type of genetic studies, it is crucial how the samples are organized and collected, including both patient and control samples.

    I wonder whether Dr. Kim has finished reading the article. Yes, the title, “…POF…” might have given you such a wrong idea. Not all the articles with the word, POF, are about a genetic study.

    The study was to COMPARE DNA copy number in venous blood of two groups using PCR. Do you still think it was a genetic study? OK, let’s say it was a genetic study or whatever. There was no rocket science regarding sampling for such an important GENETIC study, though: control samples were pooled blood without no special treatment; patient samples (5ml venous blood) were taken by a nurse. Oh, not even a designated nurse for this CRUCIAL sampling. The rest is routine for DNA extraction – no hidden secret!

    Do you still want to stress on SAMPLING of 5 ml venous blood while not mentioning PCR data analysis and interpretation of the result for THIS type of study? Let’s forget about who wrote this paper, as it is not Cha or Lee.

    Please read the article carefully although it might be a bit troublesome to match the body and the citation. KY Cha said he was the one who had translated and proof-read the article. As I had already informed FS, NONE but one citation corresponds to the numbered sentence.

    Thank you.

    JeongHwan Kim

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