PLOS and scientist appear close to settling lawsuit over expression of concern

Soudamani Singh

The publisher PLOS appears close to an agreement with a scientist who sued to stop the addition of an expression of concern to one of her articles, according to a recent filing in the case. 

Soudamani Singh, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical and Translational Sciences at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in Huntington, W. Va., filed suit against PLOS in April, as we previously reported

According to Singh’s complaint, the publisher planned to place an expression of concern on one of her papers after she and her co-authors had requested a correction. 

Singh’s suit sought a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction preventing PLOS from publishing the expression of concern, as well as damages and legal fees. 

The paper at issue, “Cyclooxygenase pathway mediates the inhibition of Na-glutamine co-transporter B0AT1 in rabbit villus cells during chronic intestinal inflammation,” published in PLOS ONE in September 2018, currently has no notice of any sort. The article has been cited nine times, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science. 

On October 12, the federal judge assigned to the case ordered a stay of the action, citing a “pending settlement.” The judge also ordered the parties to submit an order dismissing the case by November 13, or the court would dismiss the case, allowing the possibility for Singh to re-file. 

We could not learn the terms of the settlement. Singh’s lawyer did not respond to our request for comment, and David Knutson, senior communications manager for PLOS, said the publisher “cannot comment because this is an ongoing case.”

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9 thoughts on “PLOS and scientist appear close to settling lawsuit over expression of concern”

    1. This particular line in the complaint illustrates the weakness of her claim:

      “Rather than simply publishing the “Notice of Correction,” containing the explanation and correct Figure to the Article, Defendants research editors (not the same content-expert editors that previously vetted the Article) made numerous inquiries about the Article which were duplicative of the vetting process that Plaintiff had already reviewed with Defendant nearly four (4) years prior – when Defendant’s research editors had accepted the research, data, scientific processes and conclusions related to the Article.”

      Does she really believe that once a paper has been peer reviewed it can never be critiqued again? If she’s unabashedly willing to state this belief, and file a suit based on this belief, perhaps that fact will affect her future employment and grant opportunities more than an expression of concern on a single paper ever would.

      I imagine by now the author has learned something about the Streisand Effect.

      1. Yeah, better to remain silent and not self-report errors in your papers because no good deed ever remains unpunished. Singh should have simply remained silent about the error in the table/graph and none of this would have occurred. The chances of anyone noticing such an error on a five years-old paper is remote. Nobody noticed five years ago why should anyone notice now.

  1. Using the legal system to suppress scientific inquiry and criticism of academic works is unacceptable and an abuse of both the legal and academic systems.

    Shame on Dr. Singh for this assault on the scientific record. It will a large unintended negative consequences that will further undermine the integrity of scientific publications, which are already under assault by unscrupulous publishers, academics, and paper mills.

  2. So Dr. Singh apparently discovered an error in one of her previously published articles and took the HONEST route and self-reported (along with her co-authors) the error to the publisher (PLOS) requesting a “Notice of Correction” be published to correct the error only to be informed by PLOS after NINE MONTHS that a more negative “Expression of Concern” will be attached to the paper instead implying that she willfully or negligently made these errors and that is wasn’t just an “honest error” while dealing with two separate papers at the same time.

    I’m sure Dr. Singh has learned her lesson. Especially when it comes to her old papers. That lesson? If you find mistakes in your older published works that apparently nobody had noticed in the alleged “Peer Review” of the paper or later after the paper is published just keep your mouth shut and don’t try and correct those errors. Chances are good that nobody else will notice the error in a five years old paper so why bother attempting to correct the issue/error.

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