PNAS butterfly flap heats up

The __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__ has halted the print publication of a controversial scientific paper, saying it's investigating the conditions under which it was ushered through peer review by a distinguished academy member who advocated for its inclusion in the journal. The linkurl:paper;http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/08/25/0908357106.abstract, written by University of Liverpool researcher linkurl:Donald Williamson,;http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/williamso

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Sep 30, 2009
The __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__ has halted the print publication of a controversial scientific paper, saying it's investigating the conditions under which it was ushered through peer review by a distinguished academy member who advocated for its inclusion in the journal. The linkurl:paper;http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/08/25/0908357106.abstract, written by University of Liverpool researcher linkurl:Donald Williamson,;http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/williamson.html posited that butterflies are the evolutionary result of a long-ago mating between worm-like and winged ancestors. It appeared in the early edition on __PNAS__'s website on August 28th and was to appear in the print version of the journal soon. But according to the linkurl:__Times Higher Education__,;http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=408496&c=1 __PNAS__ has decided to hold up on printing the study after a flood of negative reactions from biologists about the paper and the journal's practice of allowing academy members to "communicate" manuscripts as a way to speed their publication. __PNAS__ linkurl:announced;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55970/ last month that it would be doing away...
g the conditions under which it was ushered through peer review by a distinguished academy member who advocated for its inclusion in the journal. The linkurl:paper;http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/08/25/0908357106.abstract, written by University of Liverpool researcher linkurl:Donald Williamson,;http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/williamson.html posited that butterflies are the evolutionary result of a long-ago mating between worm-like and winged ancestors. It appeared in the early edition on __PNAS__'s website on August 28th and was to appear in the print version of the journal soon. But according to the linkurl:__Times Higher Education__,;http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=408496&c=1 __PNAS__ has decided to hold up on printing the study after a flood of negative reactions from biologists about the paper and the journal's practice of allowing academy members to "communicate" manuscripts as a way to speed their publication. __PNAS__ linkurl:announced;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55970/ last month that it would be doing away with that submission process, which allowed academy members to hand pick reviewers for the papers they were bringing to the journal, starting next summer. The decision to wait on publishing the contentious paper seems to hinge on the accusation that linkurl:Lynn Margulis,;http://www.geo.umass.edu/faculty/margulis/ the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, cell biologist and academy member who "communicated" the paper, may have failed to submit some negative reviews of the manuscript to __PNAS__ editors. A recent linkurl:article;http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=national-academy-as-national-enquirer in __Scientific American__ stated that it took Margulis "'6 or 7' peer reviews before she had the '2 or 3' positive ones necessary to make a case for its publication." "Our stated policy is that academy members must submit all the reviews that were received for a paper, not merely the favorable ones," __PNAS__'s editor-in-chief Randy Schekman told the __Times Higher Education__. Schekman also told the British paper that one of the reviewers of Williamson's manuscript appeared to have collaborated with the researcher recently, a charge (which would also be against journal policy) that Margulis denied. Margulis told the __Times Higher Education__ that three other papers she co-authored and were slated for publication are being held up __PNAS__ because of the flap. "I am looking into the legality of punishing me for a finished paper they don't like by stopping publication on a second unrelated paper with my name on it," she wrote in an email seen by the __Times Higher Education__.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:PNAS scraps special submission;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55970/
[10th September 2009]*linkurl:First Person | Lynn Margulis;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13893/
[June 2003]

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