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Journal is not going to retract influential paper by botanist accused of plagiarism and fraud | Science

the journal BMC Medication has determined to not retract a controversial 2013 paper by botanist Steven Newmaster of the College of Guelph (UG) that questioned the purity of natural cures and had far-reaching results on the dietary complement trade. An earlier UG investigation had cleared Newmaster of misconduct.

“Following [the] investigation … the Editor has concluded that no additional editorial motion is required at this level,” a 9 September Editor’s Word on the journal’s web site says. However BMC Medication retained a word posted in February alerting readers that doubts had arisen in regards to the reliability of the paper’s knowledge.

“We nonetheless consider that the BMC Medication paper is fraudulent,” says Ken Thompson, a Stanford College postdoctoral fellow who first blew the whistle on Newmaster’s work and signed a 2021 criticism that alleged he dedicated scientific misconduct. “We plan to position our full set of considerations into the general public area quickly,” Thompson says. He and fellow critics fault not simply the journal, but additionally what they see as a cover-up by the college.

Newmaster didn’t reply to a request for remark at the moment.

within the BMC Medication article, Newmaster and colleagues reported utilizing a method known as DNA barcoding to confirm the contents of common dietary supplements. They discovered that many contained inert fillers and contaminants, together with poisonous substances. The work finally led main shops to tug their merchandise from the cabinets and helped Newmaster turn out to be a sought-after professional and trade marketing consultant. He licensed the purity of dietary supplements and different merchandise and raised thousands and thousands of {dollars} for tutorial and business ventures to advance his concepts from him.

The criticism, which was signed by eight scientists, together with two of Newmaster’s co-authors, alleged that the paper and two others by Newmaster have been primarily based on “lacking, fraudulent, or plagiarized knowledge.” Impartial DNA barcoding specialists supported these considerations, as detailed in a February Science investigation that additionally described different circumstances of alleged plagiarism and invented information in Newmaster’s educating, lectures, biographical supplies, media interviews, and revealed work.

However the UG investigation, accomplished in June, concluded that, though Newmaster confirmed “a sample of poor judgment and failed to use the requirements moderately anticipated in analysis exercise in his self-discipline,” there was “inadequate proof” he had engaged in misconduct.

Lin Lee, chief editor of BMC Medicationstated in an e-mail to Science that the journal adopted pointers set by the Committee on Publication Ethics in evaluating the considerations. The editors additionally consulted with an impartial reviewer with material experience and reviewed the investigation by UG, Lee says. She declined to reveal the identification of the reviewer.

“We’ve stored the earlier Editor’s Word on the paper to take care of the accuracy of the scientific document,” Lee stated. She didn’t reply to a query about whether or not the journal stands for the accuracy of the article. “If we turn out to be conscious of further considerations with the paper then we’ll look into them and punctiliously take into account whether or not additional motion could also be applicable,” she stated.

“It does not make very a lot sense,” Thompson says. “The editors did not communicate to us in any respect. They requested us no questions. We do not know in regards to the rigor of the journal’s personal investigation.”

Thompson studied below Newmaster as an undergraduate at UG and revealed a 2014 research on forest vegetation with him that was among the many papers challenged. Thompson requested a retraction of the research and offered proof that Newmaster had surreptitiously used information from a separate, unrelated research quite than legitimate knowledge. the journal Biodiversity and Conservation retracted the paper final fall. Thompson says BMC Medication seems to have dismissed comparable proof in regards to the dietary supplements paper primarily based on a superficial UG investigation.

Alison Avenell of the College of Aberdeen and Andrew Grey and Mark Bolland, each on the College of Auckland, who uncovered fraud on a large scale by a Japanese bone researcher, say journals usually do not take alleged misconduct significantly. the BMC Medication paper illustrates journals’ reluctance to offer detailed responses to detailed complaints of misconduct, they write in a joint remark in response to questions from Science. “Authors submitting work for publication are requested to offer a point-by-point response to reviewers’ feedback, but journals can not handle to do the identical when integrity considerations are raised,” the three researchers say.

UG by no means made public its examination of Newmaster’s work, they add. In impact, the college requested that the general public “belief that they’ve carried out a good, thorough job, when the proof factors to the other conclusion.”

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