We’re not generally — or ever — in the habit of running job ads here on Retraction Watch. But the purpose of this post is to highlight a new position available at the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (ASBMB) that we think is a great opportunity and a step forward for the society.
As regular Retraction Watch readers know, we frequently beat up on one of the ASBMB’s journals, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), for publishing retraction notices that say simply “This article has been withdrawn by the authors.” We’re not the only ones; Ferric Fang and colleagues name-checked the journal’s policy when they wrote about factors that
…have contributed to the systematic underestimation of the role of misconduct and the overestimation of the role of error in retractions (3, 4), and speak to the need for uniform standards regarding retraction notices (5)
So when we had the chance to talk to ASBMB publications director Nancy Rodnan earlier this month at a Society for Scholarly Publishing workshop at which Ivan was invited to speak, we were very happy to hear about the ASBMB’s plans to add a staffer to do what it can to ensure the scientific record is even more self-correcting.
Rodnan told us that her society, like many publishers, is deluged with allegations of misconduct in its journals, many of which come from the pseudonymous Clare Francis. They want to investigate all of them, but their resources are limited. So they’ve decided to create a new position, a Manager of Publication Ethics:
This person will oversee all correspondence regarding potential misconduct in all ASBMB publications and oversee all decisions in accordance with ASBMB polices. This person will work primarily with the ASBMB Publications Director as well as with journal editors, the ASBMB Publications Committee leadership, and authors to evaluate ethical breaches and make recommendations. This is a new position requiring advanced studies in the biomedical sciences, excellent organizational and writing skills, the ability to conduct thorough investigations, regular coordination with various stakeholders and institutions, sound judgment, and some familiarity with and willingness to become an expert in libel and defamation. The ASBMB will provide training in technical areas such as the use of tools for digital analysis of figures for inappropriate manipulation and plagiarism software.
You can read the whole job description here and apply here. (Full disclosure: Rodnan shared the draft of the job description with us, and asked for feedback. We basically said it looked great, but made a few suggestions.)
In particular, we can’t help but have a glimmer of hope about one particular bullet point:
Write and/or help authors write corrections and retractions
This suggests, of course, that the society is thinking through its process and perhaps willing to consider more information in its retraction notices — a move we would be thrilled to see.
Kudos to the ASBMB, and we hope our readers will consider applying for this position, or at least forwarding the posting to other interested people.