ABOVE: Microscope image of Chlamydomonas

The journal PNAS has temporarily banned a researcher from submitting manuscripts following a dispute about access to materials used in a scientific article, Retraction Watch reports. Zhangfeng Hu of Jianghan University in Wuhan and colleagues did not make a mutant algal strain available to another researcher who had requested it, in violation of the journal’s policy. The incident has led to a three-year ban for Hu.

“We received a message from a researcher who had requested a mutant strain from the authors and was rebuffed,” PNAS editor-in-chief May Berenbaum tells Retraction Watch. “We then corresponded with the authors, who continued to refuse to share the material, in violation of our policy stating that ‘Authors must make unique materials promptly available on request by qualified researchers for their own use. Failure to comply will preclude future publication in the journal.’”

See “The Open Data Explosion

Hu and colleagues published their paper, which described the use of Chlamydomonas to study flagellar assembly, in 2018. The sanction was issued to Hu because the other corresponding author on the paper told the journal that the algal strain in question had been made in Hu’s lab, according to Retraction Watch.

The paper now carries an editorial expression of concern explaining the situation and alerting readers to the policy violation. PNAS published a similar expression of concern in 2010, when the journal discovered that yeast strains used in a 2003 paper were not being shared with other researchers due to “patent protection and intellectual property issues.” 

See “Opinion: Toward Better Data Sharing