Archive by category | Policies

Ethical review must be effective yet concise

Dr M. Nabeel Ghayur, of McMaster University Ontario, writes: I would like to add some points to Nature’s News Feature “Human-subjects research: trial and error”(Nature 448, 530-532; 2007), on the important topic of clinical-trial review by regional versus central review boards. I feel that the main question is not about who conducts the review, but about it being performed thoroughly and diligently.  Read more

Plagiarism at arXiv, and Nature journals’ policies

This week’s Nature (449, 8; 2007) features a News story about a plaigiarism scandal involving more than a dozen theoretical physicists at four universities in Turkey. Almost 70 papers by 15 authors have been removed from the popular preprint server arXiv, where many physicists post their work, by the server’s moderators. They allege that the papers plagiarize the works of others or contain inappropriate levels of overlap with earlier articles. This is probably the largest single incident of its sort ever seen on the server, according to physicist Paul Ginsparg of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and founder of arXiv. “What these guys did was way over the line,” he says. See here for the full version of the story (site licence or subscription required).  Read more

What’s an author?

Dr Robin Rose writes: Recently, the scientific community was presented with a paper containing the names of no fewer than 21 authors in Nature. The race for recognition in certain areas of study appears to have many scientists battling for authorships on as many papers as will accept them. Any number of journals seem to find this acceptable. Thinking back through my long career in science I cannot recall ever seeing an article or “letter,” in this case, with so many authors: 1/21 would suggest an average 4.76% contribution, with some contributing more and some less (!). While collaboration is often praiseworthy, I found myself asking more than a few questions:  … Read more

Calling all biologists: free market science

This month’s Editorial in Nature Cell Biology (freely available at Nature Cell Biology 9, 721; 2007) explains to biologists the role of the preprint server, that mode of communication familiar to physicists, astronomers, astrophysicists and chemists. This post is an edited version of of the section of the Editorial about Nature Precedings, and how posting preprints and other documents to that site affects submission to Nature journals.  Read more

Word 2007 and science publishing

In a post entitled Nascent: Word 2007 and the STM Publisher Ecosystem, Howard Ratner, Chief Technical Officer of Nature Publishing Group, writes about how he has become involved in “a very lively conversation with Microsoft staff about why Word 2007 is not being actively endorsed by STM publishers. It has recently come to Microsoft’s attention that ”http://www.nature.com/nature/authors/submissions/template/index.html “>Nature , ”http://www.sciencemag.org/about/authors/prep/docx.dtl”>Science and many other scholarly publishers do not accept files from authors in Word 2007. Both Science and Nature Publishing Group have been in correspondence with Microsoft staff on this important issue. The staff there have been very willing to engage in this conversation.”  … Read more

Corrigendum for Nature paper on stem cells

The authors of a controversial paper on stem cells publish a correction of their work in this week’s issue of Nature (447, 880-881; 2007) but state in it that the errors do not affect the conclusions of the article. A News story also in this week’s issue (Nature 447, 763; 2007) describes how the paper in question, published in 2002, claimed to find evidence for so-called ‘multipotent adult progenitor cells’, or MAPCs, in mouse bone marrow (Y. Jiang et al. Nature 418, 41–49; 2002). The work was led by Catherine Verfaillie, now director of the Stem Cell Institute at the Catholic University of Leuven.  Read more