Following criticism, PLOS removes blog defending scrutiny of science


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Community blog PLOS Biologue has pulled a post by journalists Charles Seife and Paul Thacker that argued in favor of public scrutiny of scientists’ behavior (including emails), following heavy criticism, including from a group and scientist mentioned in the post.

Their reasoning: The post was “not consistent with at least the spirit and intent of our community guidelines.”

The original post, published August 13, is no longer available online, but you can read it here. In the piece, Seife and Thacker lament what they call a recent backlash against transparency in science.

Keith Kloor, author of the Nature news article mentioned in the retracted post, told us he also disagreed with the decision to remove the article.

As much I think the PLOS post is deeply flawed and erroneous, it bothers me that it was retracted. 1) The official explanation is really vague. Not very transparent! 2) I have to wonder if there was intense pressure brought to bear from scientists…I find myself in the odd position of defending the flawed PLOS post from these presumed pressures, in part because I’ve been the subject of similar pressure campaigns. (Of course, I’m only assuming pressure was brought to bear. I have no idea if this was actually the case.)

Indeed, it was the “community reaction” to the post that made PLOS consider removing it, Kiermer told Retraction Watch:

The community reaction caused us to reexamine particular assertions made in the piece about individuals and groups. We concluded that some were not consistent at least with the spirit of the guidelines that we apply to all community writing and commenting on PLOS blogs.

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