Ariel Fernandez‘s list of papers with editorial asterisks next to them grew again this week.
Fernandez has had one paper retracted, two papers subject to Expressions of Concern, including one from Nature, and another put on hold over data concerns. He threatened to sue us for covering one of the Expressions of Concern.
Here’s the “Notice from PLOS Genetics” for “Protein Under-Wrapping Causes Dosage Sensitivity and Decreases Gene Duplicability:”
Please be advised that PLOS is working with the authors on an investigation regarding one or more issues that have been raised with respect to the content or authorship of this paper.
We asked Fernandez for more details. He did not provide any, saying only that the criticisms of the work “have no scientific value” because they were made anonymously:
In regards to this case and the others that you have been covering in regards to my published record, my response remains pretty much the same: All I know is that the challenger’s comments were made anonymously and were either not subject or did not pass peer review, so they have no scientific value. As a scientist I only address comments or challenges formulated in accord with scientific procedure, emanating from people versed in my subject.
PubPeer commenters did their own analysis of the data in the paper, and found it puzzling.
The paper, which has been cited 31 times, according to Thomson Scientific, had been subject to an earlier correction, in which the authors said the work was not supported by an NIH grant on which Fernandez was the PI. It was one of several papers by Fernandez with similar corrections, leading some to suggest that he made the corrections in an attempt to move any investigations out of the Office of Research Integrity’s jurisdiction.
Update, 10:15 a.m. Eastern, 1/9/15: Co-author Wen-Hsiung Li tells us:
I went to the website and I could not see any issue or comment except the note” Please be advised that PLOS is working with the authors on an investigation regarding one or more issues that have been raised with respect to the content or authorship of this paper.”. I don’t know what investigation you are conducting and I don’t remember any one ever challenged my part of the paper. What I knew is that there was a challenge to the part of the paper by Fernandez and he already responded to the criticism more than two years ago.
Hat tip: Rene Malenfant