The paper has drawn a blizzard of criticism in the blogosphere about the peer-review process at the journal, Proteomics. The editor of the journal, Michael J. Dunn, a professor at University College Dublin’s Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, told The Chronicle last week that the paper had passed peer review.
Today’s announcement says that the two authors of the article, who are scientists at Inje University, in South Korea, agreed to the retraction. Initially only one of the authors had asked for a retraction.
In the news announcement, Mr. Dunn said: “Clearly human error has caused a misstep in the normally rigorous peer review that is standard practice for Proteomics and should prevent such issues arising.”
The plagiarism is bad all right, but my main concern was that such a blatantly goofy paper made it through peer review. How? All Dunn is saying is that it did pass review, which suggests that somehow, someone read it and didn’t pull the alarm, and even approved it. Was it a lazy reviewer? Or was it some other kind of hole in the process? “Human error” is an awfully vague label.
We may not ever get an answer, but you know everyone will be scrutinizing Proteomics papers critically. Other journals, too, of course — a reader just sent me another freaky paper that I’ll describe tomorrow.