The Journal of the American College of Cardiology has published a Notice of Duplication about a review article written by a respected European cardiology researcher who has played a central role in the development of fractional flow reserve (FFR). The brief statement from JACC provides few details and could lead to various interpretations, but a further investigation suggests that the story may be fairly simple.
The notice states that a 2012 review article by Nico H.J. Pijls and Jan-Willem E.M. Sels, Functional Measurement of Coronary Stenosis, “duplicates to a considerable extent both the text and figures of a prior article,” Fractional flow reserve: a review” published in 2008 in Heart, by two different authors, Bernard De Bruyne and J. Sarma. Here is the JACC editors explanation:
Dr. Piljs attributes this duplication to the close collaboration that he has had over many years with Dr. De Bruyne, and the fact that both authors drew text and figures for these reviews from the same repository of material used for a joint educational program. He acknowledges his lack of care in the preparation of the manuscript and apologizes for the duplication. While the Editors accept this apology, we lament the replication of information that prevented the pages devoted to Dr. Piljs’ article from being filled with new material.
De Buyne and Pijls are longtime colleagues who have played a central role in the development of fractional flow reserve, serving as principal investigators of the seminal FAME and FAME II clinical trials. I asked them for a response to this situation. Here is their statement:
The cryptical phrasing “repository of……..” is not ours, but made by JACC.
The “repository” they mean is a keynote lecture from the bi-annual Aalst-Eindhoven-Course on Coronary Physiology, which we organize once or twice a year in Brussels since 2001. The Course is endorsed by the European Society of Cardiology and has been organized by us already 17 times.
The opening lecture of that course (keynote lecture) is always entitled: “Practice and advanced applications of Coronary Pressure Measurement” and alternatively given by Dr de Bruyne and Dr Pijls.
That lecture has been built up by us and developed carefully over the years and has been streamlined for optimum educational content and benefit, including phrasing and slides.Not a single word is not ours.
The slides are always distributed among the participants and used by many of them for their own lectures or presentations or any educational purposes. In fact , they are public domain. Consequently, we have seen (parts of) our text and slides been used by others a myriad of times and are proud to have contributed to the dissemination of valuable medical knowledge.
When Dr De Bruyne wrote his review for HEART in 2008 , he used that keynote lecture as the basis of his paper.
When Dr Pijls wrote his State-of-the-Art paper ( i.e also a review) on the invitation of JACC in 2012, he also used text and slides of that keynote lecture (extended in the meantime) without realizing that Dr De Bruyne had done the same some years earlier. As a result, the first part of Dr Pijls paper is very close to Dr De Bruyne’s review, wheras the second part of Dr Pijls paper reflects the new data and insights obtained in those last 4 years.
So, there is nothing mysterious about that “repository” and we explained this to JACC in a similar way as we do now to you.
And by the way, when Dr Pijls submitted his paper to JACC, he mentioned explicitely in the submission letter that – as the nature of this paper was a State-of-the-Art paper – it was a concise reflection of the knowledge in the field and not original data.
Answering your last question: Neither Dr De Bruyne nor Dr Pijls ever received any financial or other compensation from whoever or in whatsoever way for writing any of these papers.
Writing these papers was on the strict invitation of the editors of Heart and JACC respectively and except the authors and staff of the Journals, nobody was even aware of it before they were published.
And as stated above: any single word or figure in any of these papers is completely our own work to which we equally contributed.
Comment: When I first read the notice it seemed to me like the case was an indication of a larger wrongdoing. I’m glad my initial suspicions were proven wrong. This is a great example of why editor’s notes should be much more detailed. The truth needs to come out no matter which way it falls.