Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bentham Editor Resigns over Steven Jones' Paper

Looks like the "peer-review" didn't include the editor:

"They have printed the article without my authorization else, so when you wrote to me, I did not mean that the article was published. I can not accept, and I have written to Bentham, that I withdraw myself from all activities with them, "says Marie-Paule Pileni, which daily is a professor specializing in nanomaterials at the prestigious Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France .


The language sounds a little stilted, but it's translated from the original (Danish).

Update: A translation of the article from Steve S, one of our commenters:

Editor in chief resigns after controversial article on 9/11
28 April 2009
From videnskab.dk ( Danish science news service)

An article on explosives in the World Trace Center was published in a scientific journal without the editor in chief knowing about it. Now she is resigning, she tells Videnskab.dk ([science.denmark])
By Thomas Hoffman (th@videnskab.dk).

It created a great attention, surprise and suspicion when the Open Chemical Physics Journal in April published a scientific article on remains of nanothermite which were found in great amounts in the dust from the WTC.

One those most surprised is apparently the editor in chief of the journal. Professor Marie-Paule Pileni first heard about he article when videnskab.dk wrote to her to ask for her professional assessment of the article’s content. The e-mail got her to immediately close the door to the journal.

“I resign as the editor in chief”, was the abrupt answer in an email to videnskab.dk

PRINTED WITHOUT PERMISSION
A telephone call reveals that editor in chief Marie-Paule Pileni had never been informed that the article was going to be published in The Open Chemical Physics Journal, which is published by the journal giant Bentham Science Publishers.

“They have printed the article without my permission, so when you wrote to me, I did not know that the article had appeared. I cannot accept this, and therefore I have written to Bentham that I resign from all activities with them”, explains Marie Paule Pileni, who is professor with a specialty in nanomaterials at the renowned Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in France.

She feels not only stabbed in the back, but is puzzled that the article on dust analysis following the terror attack on the U.S. on 11 September 2001 could at all have found its way to the Open Chemical Physics Journal.

“I cannot accept that this topic is published in my journal. The article has nothing to do with physical chemistry or chemical physics, and I could well believe that there is a political viewpoint behind its publication. If anyone had asked me, I would say that the article should never have been published in this journal. Period.” Concludes the former editor in chief.

FAILING GRADES TO THE JOURANL
The editor-in-chief’s dramatic departure gives critics additional reason to doubt the article’s conclusions, but Marie-Paule Pileni points out that because the topic lies outside her field of expertise, she cannot judge whether the article in itself is good or bad.

Nevertheless, the publication gets her to give the Open Chemical Physics Journal failing grades.

“I was in fact in doubt about them before, because I had on several occasions asked about information about the journal without having heard from them. It does not appear on the list of international journals, and that is a bad sign. Now I can see that it is because it is a bad journal”, says Marie-Paule Pileni and continues:

“There are no references to the Open Chemical Physics Journal in other articles. I have two colleagues who contributed to publishing an article which was not cited anyplace either. If no one reads it, it is a bad journal, and there is not use for it”, is the harsh verdict.

The professor informs us that a few years ago she was invited to be editor in chief of a journal which would open new possibilities for new researchers and because she supports the idea of open access journals where the articles are accessible to everyone, she said, “Yes” thank you.

“It is important to allow people to try and gain success, but one should not be allowed to do everything, and all this is certainly a bunch of nonsense. I try to be a serious researcher, and I will not have my name connected with this kind of thing,” concludes Marie-Paule Pileni.

DOES NOT CHANGE THE INVESTIGATION
The editor-in-chief’s decision is viewed as regrettable by the Danish chemist Niels Harrit, who is one of the authors to the controversial article on nanothermite in the dust from the WTC.

“It surprises me, of course, and it is regrettable, if it discredits our work. But her departure doesn’t change our conclusions, for it is a purely personnel related thing she his angry about. I still believe that we have carried out chemical physics, and if there is something wrong with our study, she is welcome to criticize us for it,” says Niels Harrit, Associate Professor at the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen.

It is Niels Harrit’s coauthor Steven Jones who was in charge of contact to Bentham, and therefore the Danish researcher is presently not aware which responsible assistant editor the group has been communicating with.

However, he does know the names of the two researchers –so-called referees—who have reviewed he article, but he will not give their names because they ‘are in principle anonymous’.

DANE WITHDREW FROM THE JOURNAL
Niels Harrit’s superior at the University of Copenhagen, Nils O. Andersen has himself participated in the pool of researchers who could be selected as editor, on an article which should be published in The Open Chemical Physics Journal. He has recently chosen to resign from the journals Editorial Advisory Board.

He informs videnskab.dk that the decision has nothing to do with Niels Harrit’s article, and that he otherwise did not achieve having any experiences with the journals, so that he cannot shed further light on how the journal operates.

“Open access is an exciting development, and as a principle the idea should be tried out for there is no reason for the commercial publishers to earn money from our work. But professionally, the journal lay at the margin of my expertise, and as I had said No to be editor of two articles, I decided that I would not use my time on anything else.”, explains Nils O. Andersen, dean of the faculty of Natural Sciences and editor of the European Physical Journal D.

It has not yet been possible to get any comment from Bentham Science Publishers.


Thanks, Steve!

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