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Hanyang reverses decision over textbook authorship
  • By Song Soo-youn
  • Published 2018.06.14 13:21
  • Updated 2018.06.14 13:27
  • comments 0

Hanyang University’s research truth committee has concluded that there was no problem to omit the name of an associate professor who helped a plastic surgery professor to write a chapter in a U.S. plastic surgery textbook.

The committee had earlier ruled that associate professor Kim Youn-hwan’s name should have appeared in Professor Ahn Hee-chang’s chapter in the book. Both Kim and Ahn work at Hanyang University Hospital’s plastic surgery department.

■ Related : 2 professors in legal battle over textbook authorship

The committee reviewed the case regarding Chapter 22, “Ischemia of the Hand part,” in the book “Plastic Surgery third edition” by Peter C. Neligan, and concluded that the issue did not fall under the case of unjust marking of authorship in Research Ethics Regulation Article 31. The committee notified the results to Kim and Ahn on Friday.

As one of the world’s most authoritative plastic surgery textbooks, the book is used for the plastic surgeon qualification test in Korea. Ahn authored the chapter “Ischemia of the Hand,” and his name appears in the table of contents.

However, Kim requested the research truth committee on July 4 last year to assess the fairness of authorship, claiming that Kim’s name was omitted from the chapter despite his “considerable contribution” to the writings. Kim received medical training under Ahn, working as a resident and a fellow.

Hanyang University Hospital Professor Ahn Hee-chang drew attention in 2012 for writing a chapter “Ischemia of the Hand” of a U.S. textbook, “Plastic Surgery third edition” by Peter C. Neligan, a six-volume set.

On Feb 19, the committee said, “We confirmed that the informant (Kim)’s name was omitted from the authors’ list. This is research misconduct that falls under Research Ethics Regulation Article 31 on the unjust marking of authorship.”

However, Ahn requested a reassessment of the issue on March 5, claiming that he initially wrote the draft that Kim submitted to the committee.

Intellectual contribution, ‘yes,’ but not enough to receive authorship

The university disclosed results of the reassessment on Friday, in three months. The research truth committee accepted Ahn’s request, reevaluated the case, and concluded that the textbook’s chapter 22 marked authorship fairly.

The committee applied the definition of authorship set by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).

The ICMJE offers four criteria for recognizing authorship: “Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; Final approval of the version to be published; and Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.”

The reason the committee reversed its conclusion was that Kim’s work did not meet the all of the four criteria.

The committee recognized Kim’s intellectual contribution to drafting the work.

However, Kim’s help “did not satisfy all the ICMJE’s authorship criteria,” it added.

The committee went on to say, “The ICMJE states that if a contributor helps authoring process but is not qualified as a writer, the person is classified as a ‘non-author contributor,’ whose name can appear in a thanking note.”

It was regretful that Ahn did not mention Kim’s name but not marking Kim’s name was irrelevant to the unjust marking of authorship, the committee added.

Good to recover reputation, truth has been revealed: Ahn

Ahn said it was fortunate to reveal the truth, although belatedly. However, he still asserted that the committee’s recognition of Kim’s partial contribution was wrong.

“I felt sorry that many people have wasted energy and time because of the authorship issue. I also had to spend my efforts on this case, instead of medical care, surgery, education and research,” Ahn said. “Even though I’m not 100 percent satisfied with the reassessment results, but it was fortunate to recover my tarnished reputation. The truth has been revealed in some degree.”

However, Kim did not accept the results and said he would find ways to request an investigation by a third-party institution.

Despite the university’s latest decision, legal battles are likely to persist. Kim plans to continue the lawsuit against Ahn, charging him with the copyright law violation. Ahn also plans to sue a reporter for defamation who first reported on Kim’s allegations against Ahn.


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