Creationism in the journal Proteomics

Last year, a controversial paper on the mitochondrion, including a claim that amounted to "God did it" (created life), almost slipped into the journal Proteomics. I say "almost" because the article appeared online before print, and then caused such a furor that the journal withdrew it from their website and the print version never appeared.

I wrote a brief account of the whole episode, including the journal editor's attempts to justify their sloppy reviewing, which just appeared online in the National Center for Science Education's magazine, NCSE Reports. I also blogged about this when it happened, one year ago, as did PZ Myers (Pharyngula), Attila Csordas, and Lars Juhl Jensen. The article appears as "retracted" on the journal website, with the explanation that the retraction was due to plagiarism (most of the article was blatantly plagiarized), but no comment at all about the Creationism claims.

Ironically, this article - although retracted! - was the #2 most-accessed article for the journal for the entire year of 2008, according to the journal's website. I guess people were interested in seeing what all the fuss was about.

The Creationist claim and the plagiarism were discovered by bloggers and blog readers, and sent to the journal. The journal's chief editor was initially very concerned, but he quickly became defensive, and never made a public statement on the Creationist claims, instead defending the review process and the anonymous reviewers.

Luckily we stopped them this time. But it's a cautionary tale for those of us who regularly review papers in the scientific literature.

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