Bruno Frey is in trouble

July 7, 2011

Bruno Frey, David Savage and Benno Torgler published two papers about survival in life-and-death situations, like the sinking of the Titanic. One paper was published in JEBO 2010, the other one in JEP 2011. Now they are accused of self-plagiarism. Economic Logic writes the following:

The two papers are by Bruno Frey, David Savage and Benno Torgler. They both report on the sinking of the Titanic and discuss the characteristics of the passengers who survived versus those who perished. Both papers come to the same conclusions. The texts are different, though, and the published regressions are slightly different, with no explanation why, because there is no reference to the other paper. One has therefore to read in much detail to understand what the contribution of each paper is, if there is any.

All this is very fishy. It really looks like the authors are playing games here, trying to get multiple publications out of the same work. They do not mention the other work to fool editors and referees into thinking these are original contributions, as required for any submission to those journals. They tweak the results and rewrite the text so that they cannot be accused of blatant self-plagiarism. This is unethical behavior, but it is not unheard of in the profession.

Among Economic Logic, other blogs discuss this issue of self-plagiarism.Reactions from the editors as well as from Frey and Torgler can be found here.

Update (July 8th): A summary of the debate can be found here. Thanks to Olaf Storbeck and his Economics Intelligence blog!

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