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10

Lab Times

5-2016

News

on non-publishing-related activities, such

as software development, new product de-

sign, collaboration and outreach.

The majority of the journal’s budget,

however, was invested in publishing mat-

ters, with the lion’s share of close to one mil-

lion pounds being used to pay

eLIFE

’s highly

valued editors. “We feel it is important to of-

fer remuneration to the editors, to compen-

sate at least in part for the hard work that

these busy scientists provide to devise, op-

timise and run a new editorial process.” In

contrast to other science publishing outlets,

eLIFE

pays its Editor-in-Chief (Randy Schek-

man), its three Deputy Editors (Eve Marder,

Detlef Weigel, Fiona Watt) and 39 Senior

Editors as well as almost 300 Reviewing

Editors. Additional costs for the journal in-

clude the actual processing of research arti-

cles (£739,000 were spent on, for instance,

managing the responsible staff workers and

maintaining the online systems) and, not to

forget, marketing (£419,000). In total,

eLIFE

dedicated 3.9 million to handle its 6,000

new submissions last year, leading to 833

published papers.

Speaking about single papers. With eve-

ry article published, the average costs for a

paper fall. In 2012, for instance,

eLIFE

pub-

lished only 27 research articles, the overall

costs were, however, £2.25 million. Hence,

the costs to publish a single article in the

journal in 2012 were a staggering £83,333.

These costs fell to £3,630 in 2015, when

eLIFE

published 833 papers. “Given the con-

tinued (albeit more modest) growth this

year, we anticipate that the cost per article

will drop further in 2016 and in subsequent

years,” the

eLIFEr

s are optimistic.

But, perhaps, these numbers are to be

taken with a pinch of salt, after all. In a re-

cent contribution to the

Scholarly Kitchen

blog, Kent Andersen suspects that not all

costs have been incorporated into the fi-

nal, publicised invoice. “Factoring in the

work space, overheads, and capital expen-

ditures”, he calculates, “and the

eLIFE

cost-

per-article goes from US$4,700 to roughly

US$6,380 (£4,880). And we’re still not sure

that we’ve seen all their expenses.

“The eLIFE annual report is an interest-

ing example of a report released more as a

rationalisation than as a form of disciplined

transparency,” he criticises.

Microbiologist accused of fraud

Foul Play?

The news section on Robert Ryan’s home-

page reads: “Dundee researcher recognised

among the top young scientists in Europe.”

Last year, EMBO welcomed Robert Ryan

into the distinguished circle of EMBO Young

Investigators that comes with “financial as

well as practical benefits”; but this year’s

news has not been quite so joyful – recently,

the University of Dundee suspended the mi-

crobiologist for allegations of scientific mis-

conduct, dissolved his nine-strong research

group and launched an investigation.

Trying to understand the signalling

processes occurring between and within

pathogenic bacteria during infections, Ry-

an’s wanted to find “treatments for many

emerging multiple antibiotic resistant infec-

tions, which are desperately needed in clin-

ics around the world”. Was desperation also

behind his alleged fraudulent actions?

Earlier this year, PubPeer commenters

discovered quite a few irregularities in Ry-

an’s papers (see image). “Images of flasks

in figures 1 and 6, stated as different condi-

tions, including wild-type and experimen-

tal conditions, look very similar. The flask

image in fig A far right may be a horizon-

tal flip of figure 6 A far left. To the eye Fig-

ure 6 far right also looks very similar,” one

commenter observed in a 2012

PLoS ONE

paper (7(12): e52646). Another found the

same image in two papers, labelled differ-

ently: “Figure 3A [in

EMBO J

, 32(18):2430-

8] contains the same images of leaf labelled

‘H2O’ as in Figure 3A in

Mol Microbiol

, 88

(6) 6: 1058–69 but in that paper it is la-

belled ‘Class 0 No symptoms’”. A source to

The Scotsman

, the newspaper that first re-

ported on the case on August 28

th

, said that

the alleged misconduct spanned a number

of years and involved numerous prestigious

journals.

While the investigation is ongoing, the

University of Dundee remains tight-lipped.

In its official statement it confirms that

there’s an investigation “into an allegation

of research misconduct” and that these al-

legations are being thoroughly investigated.

Support for Turkish scientists

Science Solidarity

Times are not easy for scientists in Turkey,

at the moment. Since the coup attempt in

July, thousands of researchers have been

removed from their posts, arrested, their

departure has been denied and, not least,

they have been stripped of their academ-

ic freedom. “Germany’s universities are

shocked by the current developments seen

at Turkish universities. The drastic and ap-

parently unscrupulous curtailments of ac-

ademic freedoms by the Turkish govern-

ment leave us all speechless. We protest in

the strongest terms against such actions,”

said Horst Hippler, President of the Ger-

man Rectors’ Conference (HRK) in a press

release. “We empathise with the academic

staff affected and assure them of our soli-

darity,” Hippler added.

Turkey and Germany have many histor-

ical connections. During the second World

War, for instance, many German intellec-

tuals, including politician Ernst Reuter and

composer Paul Hindemith, fled from the

Nazis to Turkey. Will Germany now return

that favour?

In July, the Alliance of Science Organ-

isations in Germany, which includes, for

instance, the German Research Founda-

tion, the German Academic Exchange Ser-

vice, the German Rectors’ Conference and

the Max Planck Society issued a statement,

calling on the “Government of Turkey to

conduct its ongoing investigations into the

participation of universities and research

institutions in the attempted coup strictly

within the framework of legitimate consti-

tutional procedures”.

Kambiz Ghawami, chairman of the

World University Service, an independent

international organisation focussing on ed-

ucational policy, even goes a step further.

“I ask the German universities to host pur-

sued Turkish scientists as well as students,

particularly now; also in remembrance of

the numerous expats fromGermany during

Nazi times, who at that time found protec-

tion and support at Turkish universities.”

“We call on the Turkish authorities to

stop putting scientists and students under

general suspicion and persecuting them,

for exercising their basic right to freedom

of opinion and referring in their scientific

work to Article 27 of the Turkish constitu-

tion. The autonomy and freedom of teach-

ing and research is a keystone of the inter-

national scientific community and should

be respected by every government,” Gha-

wami said.

When excised, flipped and placed next

to each other, the flasks look remarkably

similar (

PLoS ONE

7(12): e52646).