February 2010

Opinion / Medical students are taught early that guest authorship is acceptable

A recent study done by Lakartidningen, the journal of the Swedish Medical Association, among 499 newly qualified doctors of medical science has shown that even at the beginning of their careers, doctors are not adhering to rules on authorship. The English summary is here , full text of Swedish report is here.

Opinion / Science editorial on who takes responsibility for the research in a paper

In its January 1st editorial Science laid out ideas for “Promoting Scientific Standards” including dealing with the issue of who takes responsibility for parts of a research project. The editorial states that “Science will require that the senior author for each laboratory or group confirm that he or she has personally reviewed the original data generated by that unit, ascertaining that the data selected for publication in specific figures and tables have been appropriately presented.”

Opinion / MMR paper retraction

Following a hearing by the UK's General Medical Council, the Lancet has retracted the paper by Wakefield et al about the MMR vaccine and autism.
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60175-7/fulltext

See the COPE guidelines on retraction (on this website) for more details about when and how COPE recommends editors should retract papers.

Opinion / Fraudulent structures uncovered by Acta Crystallographica Section E

An editorial in the January, 2010 issue of Acta Crystallographica Section E tells the distressing story behind a number of frauds involving papers published in the journal (which is a member of COPE). The fraud is extensive, with apparently at least 70 structures having been shown to be falsified.

Opinion / Stem cell researchers call for open peer review

Stem cell researchers have accused journals of biased review and suggested that a remedy for this would be having reviewers' comments published as supplementary material alongside papers (this policy has been adopted by the EMBO journals and has been used for some time at BioMed Central). For more details see
http://www.eurostemcell.org/commentanalysis/peer-review

Opinion / Peer review in stem cell research

A news item on the BBC’s Today programme this morning discussed the issue of what can potentially happen when a small group of researchers predominate in a field. Two scientists working in stem cell research suggested that such small groups can tend to dominate the review process of papers and lead to bias and delays in publication of papers from other groups.