Ideas

Brainiac

On Second Thought: Supportive colleagues

the concept of education of children. the generation of knowledge
shutterstock

Academics are notorious for petty infighting and cutthroat competition. But not always. When the journal Scientific Reports refused to retract a 2016 article that appeared to plagiarize the work of Michael Beer, a biologist at Johns Hopkins, Beer’s colleagues rallied to his defense. A group of nearly 20 members of the journal’s editorial board — most but not all from Hopkins — resigned in protest in recent weeks, calling the decision “a very poor example” of publishing ethics. The journal’s editor, Richard White, maintains that a correction to the offending paper was enough. That didn’t sit well with Ted Dawson, a Hopkins neuroscientist who jumped off the editorial board: “If you are caught plagiarizing someone else’s work in Scientific Reports, all you need to do is apologize” and publish a correction, Dawson said. But stay tuned: The journal now says it will convene a “senior editorial committee” to review the allegations.