PubPeer Selections: Authors respond to critiques; motorcycling meets photonics; soda and aging

pubpeerThis week we learned that Fazlul Sarkar, who is suing PubPeer commenters, claiming he lost a job offer at the University of Mississippi because of their critiques, declined an opportunity to respond to said comments. Here’s another installment of PubPeer Selections:

8 thoughts on “PubPeer Selections: Authors respond to critiques; motorcycling meets photonics; soda and aging”

  1. It’s becoming fairly obvious that if PubPeer does not reign in its comments, it will face many more lawsuits in the future (and probably closure). The ‘discussion’ of the Austin Smith paper is a prime example of what PubPeer needs to deal with.

  2. The problem with Austin Smith’s paper maybe actually lie with the top-tier journals like Cell, which demand a straightforward, simplistic and “sexy” story, otherwise the editors are not interested. I am quite sure the data from Smith’s lab is solid, but unfortunately we miss out on chunks of it due to the editorial peculiarities of Cell (but also other publishing dinosaurs)

  3. Exactly my point Dave.
    As some details were left out as not to confuse the editors, certain overexcitable readers get confused and scream blue murder. Which now keeps several serious PubPeer users busy trying to calm this person down.
    The simplicity of the title does make it rather categoric, I wonder if it was prompted by the Cell editor.

  4. I would have to agree with Dave on this one. Without being an expert in this field, it does seem that this is a case of incremental contribution to a field, in which some evidence shows X while other evidence shows Y. Just because some evidence may contradict other evidence does not necessarily mean that the opposing evidence must all be retracted from the literature. What would be required, no doubt, is a short paper perhaps even written by competing groups, that shows how the views differ, and why these differences are important, or not. Also, regarding PubPeer comments, indeed, there do appear to be un-moderated comments that simply call for a flat-out retraction, which seems to be more of a cheap shot below the belt. And, if we were in a boxing ring, that could result in some penalty if too many such shots were delivered. So, I would also caution PubPeer because no doubt the web is ultrasensitive now to this issue, and the fine line between libel and criticism is ultra-fine now, I feel. Retractions will take place in their own natural time, I am sure, if the reasons are right. Because no editor or publisher – most importantly no author – can escape a serious mistake like data or figure duplication, or serious plagiarism. But in the Austin Smith case, I think of it as an ongoing conversation in which evidence can be contradictory. Let clear heads and common sense prevail while we seek to correct the literature. Hawkish attitudes that are invalid will destroy the cause, and overly soft attitudes when hawkishness will soften the movement.

  5. Oh cmon guys I do agree that this Peer 1 should be more polite and detached on his comments but I do not see anything in this discussion that could end up in court or traumatise any of the authors into attending therapy. This is an authentic classical passionate scientific discussion and I think Pubpeer is a good place for it, whether or not we agree with the points of view presented. No allegation of fraud was made nor anyone was called names.

  6. I think we have a misunderstanding. Nobody here, including myself, thinks Peer1’s call for a retraction of Smith’s Cell paper is anywhere near from being justified. So why are we debating each other and storming open doors?
    My only issue here was with the editorial sensationalism practiced by big journals, which I do hope to see retracted one day.

  7. It’s interesting that one of the first commenters in the PubPeer thread (Peer2) refers to a “glut of retraction demands” and “paperS”, as in plural. Scrolling down the recent list there were at least 6 complaints posted around the same time and with a similar style, all targeting publications from the Smith or Jaenisch labs:



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