Here is a good news story about an academic journal that is prepared to set the record straight.
The October issue of Annals of Statistics had a paper by Weishen Wang about smallest confidence limits. The main Theorem 4 gives a formula for a largest possible lower limit for a scalar parameter in an arbitrary discrete distribution. Unfortunately, this construction was first given by Robert Buehler (JASA,1957). The proof of its optimality was given by Jobe and David (JASA,1992) under a non-trivial restriction. The proof was generalised to remove this restriction by Lloyd & Kabaila (ANZJS,2003).
The paper by Wang includes reference to Bol’shev (1965). That paper refers to Buehler (1957). Indeed it is mainly about Buehler (1957).
The paper by Wang also contained an additional Proposition 2 which, in non-technical terms, says that a more informative statistic can never generate a worse Buehler lower limit than a less-informative statistic. This result was proven in Kabaila & Lloyd (ANZJS,2004) where we also gave conditions under which the lower limit will be strictly better rather than only no worse.
I sent the details of this sorry saga to the editor of Annals, Peter Buhlmann, who responded within two days that that the record could be set straight with a two page paper authored by Paul Kabaila and myself. The publication process was hurried it should appear in the December issue. Well done Peter Buhlmann and Annals of Statistics! My faith is renewed. I am not sure all editors would be prepared to do this.
In fact, I know from personal experience that they don’t.
About 7 years ago Biometrika published a paper, Using logistic regression procedures for estimating receiver operating characteristic curves, by Jing Qin and Biao Zhang. The paper was virtually identical to a paper I had published a year earlier. However, I had submitted this same paper to Biometrika two years earlier and had it rejected. You join the dots yourself.
The editor of the time, Mike Titterington, told me that Biometrika do not publish letters. Instead, he got the authors themselves to publish an erratum. This was totally inadequate in my view and does not correct the record. If you don’t believe me, try Googling “Using logistic regression procedures for estimating receiver operating characteristic curves” and see what you get. You sure don’t get the erratum or anything with my name in it.
It is hard to know what to do when you have your work plagiarised. If the journal just hunkers down then what avenues are left to you? Do you get up at a conference and denounce the offender and look like a looney? Or do you just blog about it…..