The French journal Biologie Aujourd’hui — Biology Today — has retracted an article it published earlier this year after learning of ethics violations, authorship issues with the paper and a problematic image.
The article, titled “Utilisation de dendrimères pour une nanomédecine innovatrice,” or “Using dendrimers for an innovative nanomedicine,” was written by Jean Pierre Majoral of the Laboratoire de Chimie de Coordination in Toulouse. (We haven’t been able to get our virtual hands on the paper yet.)
According to the retraction notice, which in fact says “withdrawal notice“:
This paper published in Biologie Aujourd’hui has been formally withdrawn on ethical grounds.
Request approved by the Editor-in-Chief and the Publisher on May 30, 2013.
So, what were those ethical violations? Obviously the notice doesn’t have much to say on that score. But we were fortunate enough to raise the matter with a French fan of the blog, Hervé Maisonneuve, who took the time to speak with the publisher. And this is what we learned (quotes via Maisonnueve):
- they read the COPE guidelines and they want to fully comply
- they will come back to the editorial board of the journal to ‘educate them’
- they will write and publish an erratum with the full explanation (authors problems, and problem with an image not respecting the animal ethical guidelines,..); the editorial board will sign it; the erratum will be linked to the retraction and to the paper;
- the paper will be put back on the website with the mention ‘retracted’
- everything will be clear in Medline
Then we corresponded with Claus Roll, a representative of EDP Sciences, which publishes the journal. Roll told us that the initial retraction notice did not include mention of the authorship dispute because he was unaware that such issues are grounds for retraction. He asked us for advice on how to handle all of this. While we’re conscious of doing the tricky dance of journalists moving a story, we gave him the same advice we’ve posted on countless times, and we’re disclosing that. We encouraged him to mention that problem as well.
Roll seemed receptive to the advice, telling us:
[T]hank you. I’m working with the board in this sense in order to give the “full story”.