Nature has issued an Expression of Concern for a paper co-authored by a scientist who threatened to sue us last year for writing about another Expression of Concern for one of his other papers.
Here’s the “Editorial Expression of Concern” for “Non-adaptive origins of interactome complexity:”
Dr Michael Lynch has indicated that he no longer has confidence in the original data presented in this Letter, and would like to have his name removed as a co-author. Dr Ariel Fernández has conducted his own statistical analysis, firmly stands by the data and has claimed that differences in interpretation are at the basis of this disagreement. Nature’s editors have concluded that it is necessary to alert the readership to this controversy until further clarification is obtained.
The paper has been cited 57 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Fernández tells Retraction Watch that he has posted the following “Open Data and Post-Publication Information” in response to the Expression of Concern:
In an addendum appended to the letter on November 26, 2014, the Editors of Nature have upheld the work while pointing to a controversy between the two authors. The paper and its addendum may be found at the url:
To clarify the controversy issue, I have posted on the web the step-by-step instructions and the code required to reproduce and analyze the primary data and I have also published at the same website the raw data, statistical analysis of the raw data and the resulting interpretation. The information may be found in my tutorial at the url
By posting this tutorial, I am fulfilling the open-data mandate (not enforced by Nature at this time) and I am also inviting the readership to generate more information that would shed light on the controversy. Should readers have further questions or requests, they can contact me at email@example.com
It’s not clear to us that Nature has “upheld the work,” as Fernández claims, and it’s not what they wrote in the Expression of Concern. Such Expressions of Concern are often posted when there are questions about whether the data exist at all.
At this point, I’ll just say this is not a matter of “confidence in the data” or in the statistical analysis or interpretation of the data.
it was brought to the Editors’ attention that the data generated by the first author, Ariel Fernandez, seemed anomalous. One of the author’s institutions found that the data were not reproducible from the described methods, but an investigation by the author’s other institution did not find the data or their interpretation suspicious.
Fernández threatened to sue us for covering that Expression of Concern, and has since posted a document at Academia.edu that claims to be the conclusions of an “in-depth analysis” of the paper. He had earlier claimed in a now-removed post on the same site that the
paper was critically reviewed by a senior faculty member at the University of Chicago at the behest of BMC Genomics. The paper was found to stand on firm ground. The professor found the work to be correct and reproducible. Therefore, the paper will not be retracted and the record will not be corrected.
Fernández also had another paper put on hold for concerns over anomalous data, and has corrected the funding sources in several papers, in an apparent attempt to disclaim support from the NIH.