Henry IV, part 2: No retraction necessary, say some authors of royal head identification paper
Last week, we reported that some of the authors of a 2010 paper in the BMJ claiming to have identified Henry IV’s head thought the study should be retracted based on new evidence. Some of the other authors have now responded to that call for retraction, which appeared on the BMJ’s site alongside the paper.
Philippe Charlier, the corresponding author of the original paper, and five of the original paper’s 15 co-authors conclude after reviewing the evidence that
…at the anthropological, historical and statistical levels, the many arguments allow to come to the conclusion, beyond reasonable doubt, that the head is authentic and belongs to Henri IV. Recent genetic analyses  clearly question the heterogeneity of the genetic heritage within the Bourbon/Orleans family.
And that, they write, quoting COPE guidelines, means that:
…no argument is sufficient to ask for a retraction of the BMJ article as it meets none of the criteria: scientific misconduct, plagiarism, serious errors, and duplicate/concurrent publishing (self-plagiarism) .
Their final word:
Controversy is part of any important scientific publication, and particularly frequent for medico-historical identifications. But passions should be left aside in favor of objectivity and rigor. In any cases, a researcher has to accept that he will never be able to convince some skeptics colleagues in the case of a multidisciplinary study.
Charlier told us yesterday that the BMJ would be offering a solution — a Solomonic compromise, perhaps? – in the next few days.
Update, 5 p.m. Eastern, 11/6/13: Hervé Maisonneuve has some questions for the authors of this paper (in French).