Controversy continues to swirl around the retraction of a Frontiers paper linking climate skepticism to conspiratorial ideation, with three editors resigning from various Frontiers journals, and competing narratives. The authors say the journal retracted the paper because of a fear of legal threats, while the journal, and critics of the study, has said it was withdrawn because the paper did not protect the rights of its subjects.
Whatever the issues with the paper, we and others have been saying that the journal stumbled since the study was first retracted last year. The publisher continues to insist, for example, that there is no contradiction between their retraction notice — agreed upon by the editors and the authors — which said that the journal “did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study” and a later statement saying that the paper “did not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects.”
Today, editor-in-chief Henry Markham acknowledged missteps in a blog post. Here’s how it starts:
In 2011, a group of researchers at Columbia University reported in Cell that they had been able to convert skin cells from patients with Alzheimer’s disease into functioning neurons — a finding that raised the exciting prospect of “made to order” brain cells for patients with the degenerative disease. As one researcher not involved with the study, led by Asa Abeliovich, put it:
“[This is] simply a remarkable and complete piece of work which will now set a standard for stem cell work in neurological disease. The standard of the characterization of the neuronal cultures is very high,” John Hardy at University College London, U.K., wrote to [Alzforum]. He was not involved in the work but is taking a similar approach in his own lab.
According to the abstract of “Directed Conversion of Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Skin Fibroblasts into Functional Neurons:”
On Tuesday, we broke the news of the retraction in Circulation of a paper on cardiac stem cells by a group of researchers being investigated by Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Today, The Lancet has issued an Expression of Concern about another paper led by Piero Anversa, the last author of the Circulation paper.
An Elsevier journal has taken “the exceptional step of ceasing to communicate” with a scientist-critic after a series of “unfounded personal attacks and threats.” The move means that the journal, Scientia Horticulturae, will not review any papers that include the critic, Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva, as an author.
It’s not unusual to hear authors bemoan the fact that a new paper doesn’t cite their work that set the stage for a scientific advance. “The journal limited me to [a seemingly abitrary number of] references,” authors sometimes shrug, with or without apology. This week, however, we found a case of that which seems to have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
The authors of a September 2013 article in Nature Communications have issued a correction for the piece, which failed to cite the source of a key step in their experiment.
The article, “Val66Met polymorphism of BDNF alters prodomain structure to induce neuronal growth cone retraction,” came from the lab of William “Clay” Bracken, a biochemist at Weill Cornell Medical College. According to the abstract: Read the rest of this entry »