Januarycover•   Dr. Lawrence Saidman and 2 anonymous co-authors (It’s Still Plagiarism) describe the experience of textbook chapter authors who saw their scholarship massively copied in subsequent versions of the textbook that inappropriately attributed their scholarship to new authors. The 3 accompanying editorials are uncompromising. Marcovitch and Barbour (Whose Words in the Textbook?) suggest “editors and publishers (and readers) should consider reporting suspected misconduct of this nature to an author’s employer.” Roig (Yes, It’s Plagiarism, But It’s Complicated) states “That these malpractices in authorship assignment may be common in the textbook publishing industry cannot be used as an excuse.” Shafer’s assessment is “Plagiarism Is Plagiarism Is Plagiarism.”

•   The link between anesthetic technique and cancer recurrence is a subject of vigorous basic and clinical research. Chang and colleagues (Local Anesthetics Induce Apoptosis in Human Breast Tumor Cells) from the National Taiwan University College of Medicine found that lidocaine and bupivacaine induce apoptosis in human breast cancer (MCF- 7) and mammary epithelial (MCF-10A) cells at clinically relevant concentrations. In an accompanying editorial, Durieux (Anesthesia and Cancer Recurrence: Improved Understanding, But No Reason for Change) notes that “We should not change clinical practice based on bench studies alone” and urges waiting for the results of ongoing definitive prospective clinical studies.

• A systematic review by Likis and colleagues (Nitrous Oxide for the Management of Labor Pain: A Systematic Review) from Vanderbilt found just 2 high quality studies on the safety and efficacy of nitrous oxide for labor analgesia, despite the passage of 168 years since Horace Well’s inauspicious demonstration of nitrous oxide at Massachusetts General Hospital. An accompanying editorial by King and Wong (Nitrous Oxide for Labor Pain: Is It a Laughing Matter?) outlines the types of studies that need to be done to assess whether nitrous oxide is a reasonably safe and effective alternative for labor analgesia.

• Hurley and colleagues (Examination of Publications from Academic Anesthesiology Faculty in the United States) examined the academic productivity of the 6143 academic anesthesiologists between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2008. Although they identified 8521 manuscripts attributable to these faculty, the median number of publications was 0.Culley and colleagues (Academic Productivity of Directors of ACGME-Accredited Residency Programs in Surgery and Anesthesiology) found that the publication rate for the program directors of ACGME accredited anesthesiology program directors was just 43% that of ACGME accredited surgery program directors. In an accompanying editorial, Hindman and Dexter (Anesthesia Scholarship, Research, and Publication) explore various proposals to enhance the scholarly productivity of academic anesthesiologists, because “If the quality of our scholarship is excellent, then preservation of our specialty as an academic discipline within broader biomedical community is more likely.”

On The Cover

This month’s cover may seem to be a curious departure from the imagery expected of a refined scientific journal. Rather, it could theoretically stand in as the jacket for the latest crime novel on the best-seller’s list. Indeed there is nothing evocative of any concept remotely related to medical science. Yet, in considering the dissemination of scholarly knowledge, the quality and moral standards of our discourse are inextricably woven into the substance of scientific investigation. One may build, elaborate on, and further characterize a foundation of intellectual property, but at what point does it become their own? This question is raised in every elemental thread of humanity from the arts (consider ironically the November cover of this journal) to scholarly literature. The Journal acknowledges with appreciation the contribution of the Committee on Publication Ethics for the guidelines they developed on plagiarism, and the contributions of the current and a former chair of COPE to the editorials accompanying this issue.