Readers of this blog know that we have had a few stock villains over the years. High on the list has been the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), and we’ve criticized repeatedly the journal’s unwillingness to provide any information about the reasons for retractions. For as long as we’ve been around, the JBC’s stock retraction statement seemed to be:
This article has been withdrawn by the authors.
Times have changed. According to an editorial published earlier this month, the JBC says it will now be giving readers as much information as possible about the retraction notices it prints. The editorial, written by interim editor-in-chief of Vanderbilt University, alludes to the heat the journal has been taking about its opacity:
As members of that community who have indeed described the notices as “opaque,” we say, Amen to that! But before we pop corks, we’ll note that the JBC did have a cup of coffee with more transparency before, when its publisher, the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, hired an ethics manager for its journals. That was almost exactly three years ago.
In the intervening time, we’ve seen a smattering of informative notices, but the only consistent change was that retractions required by Office of Research Integrity (ORI) investigations were linked to the relevant ORI reports.
So, although we have reason to be cautious here, we’re delighted by the change in policy and commend the JBC, and its editorial leadership, for acknowledging the importance of clear and informative retraction notices.
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