What is the proper way to alert a someone when I find an author improperly analyzed their data? As a statistician, I find lots of errors in how many scientists use statistics.
Thanks for a really interesting question! We spoke to members of the Editorial Publishing and Policy teams at Springer Nature, and they had the following advice:
- First of all, you are right that misuse of data should be raised with the chief editor at the journal, but unfortunately, in some cases this does not yield a response
- One option would be to post a comment on the online article, if the journal provides for such commenting
- Or alternatively, you could use one of the post-publication peer review platforms to raise the issue. Publons for instance allows you to post formal post-publication peer reviews, plus they have a facility to start a discussion on a published article
- If the issue is very serious such options should only be used if you have first been unsuccessful with the author and editor. You could then use either of these options and alert the author and editor to your published comments
- In general, use of a single platform like Publons for raising such issues on multiple publications could allow people to build reputations for correctly identifying such errors in published articles, and editors could then more easily identify when something might need to escalate to action by the journal itself
It’s great to see that researchers are engaging more with publishing policies, and are holding journals (and researchers) to account. We hope to see these processes becoming easier and more transparent as Publons and similar platforms/initiatives expand.